Phillips claimed that Motorola was chosen in March 2010 in a competitive bidding process that included three other vendors—Harris, IPWireless and Alcatel-Lucent. But representatives for each of the three vendors said they believe they were making presentations for a request for inquiry (RFI) for a small project, not a request for proposal (RFP) that could be worth more than $100 million in the long term.

“All notifications pointed out and referred to the process as an RFI,” said one vendor representative, who requested anonymity. “It was repeatedly stated that this was an RFI for three trial locations only during the orals themselves.”

This sentiment was echoed by a representative from a different vendor.

“Everybody in this industry knows the difference [between an RFI and an RFP]—you don’t stay in business, unless you do,” said the vendor representative, who also requested anonymity. “They are different things. If it’s an RFP, you start getting into certain things—you have to bid, and you have to have a performance bond.”

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern signed the vendor agreement on March 15, 2010, with Motorola “on behalf of the Bay RICS Policy Group”—a group that did not exist at the time and would not meet for the first time until almost three months later.

In terms of the spectrum, the FCC had granted waivers to the cities of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland to use the 700 MHz broadband spectrum licensed to the PSST to support a public-safety LTE network deployment, if those cities could negotiate a spectrum agreement with the PSST.

A spectrum agreement was reached with the PSST, but it was not signed by any representatives of the three waiver cities of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. Instead, the spectrum deal was signed in August 2010 by Alameda County Sheriff Ahern, this time on behalf of the “San Francisco Bay Area Urban Area,” which Ahern later acknowledged did not exist as an entity.

Eventually, Phillips resigned as Bay Area UASI general manager, and the BayWEB initiative was restarted under a different governance structure with Motorola as the vendor, because the company still controlled the BTOP grant for the region. Like all public-safety BTOP projects, the San Francisco-area LTE effort was halted by NTIA after Congress created FirstNet in February 2012.

After lengthy negotiations between representatives of Motorola, FirstNet and the San Fransciso Bay Area failed to generate a spectrum-lease agreement, talks on the subject ended last November.