Connecticut last week issued a request for proposals (RFP) asking bidders to submit proposals to build and maintain an alternative radio access network (RAN) for FirstNet under a potential “opt-out” scenario, making Connecticut the 14th state with an active procurement for an alternative-RAN vendor.

Released on Friday, the RFP calls for potential vendors to submit their RAN bids by Nov. 9 and makes Connecticut the 14th state with an active alternative-RAN procurement, which will result in a contract only if the state were to complete the lengthy and challenging “opt-out” process. The states of Washington and Oregon have announced their intention to issue a joint alternative-RAN RFP, but it is not expected to be released until Friday.

Bidders should not submit proposals that require the state of Connecticut to spend any money, according to the RFP.

“Proposer must include a detailed budget for anticipated expenses to finance its no-cost solution for the state,” the RFP states. “The proposer's budget must comprehensively address any and all sources of revenues and expenditures for the project period of 25 years.  

“Proposer must fully define how they shall fund the state’s costs related to project oversight and management, including—but not limited to—staffing and related operational expenses required for appropriate program management and ongoing activities of the RAN.”

In addition, bidders are asked to explain how they would implement a “subscriber-refresh program” and demonstrate the ability to secure a performance bond that would assure all RAN-related costs during the contract period.

“Proposer shall describe how it shall provide a performance bond if requested, such performance bond to be used in the event that the proposer or one of more of its partners or subcontractors is unable to provide for or complete any of their obligations regarding the design, construction, operation, financing, maintenance,  and/or  upgrading/improvement of the RAN over the next 25 years,” according to the RFP. “Proposer must provide evidence of financial capability to obtain and maintain performance bond.”

Connecticut’s RFP calls for bidders to submit an alternative RAN that would provide public-safety users in the state with 99.999% service availability, even if connectivity to the FirstNet core is disrupted.

“Interfaces to the [FirstNet system] shall be configured in such a manner that the RAN will remain operational for—at a minimum—intrastate operation, in the event of failure of the FirstNet interconnecting network or its network components,” the RFP states. “This includes network core functionality.”

Under the law that established FirstNet, governors in all 56 states and territories have the choice of making an “opt-in” decision—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan and allowing AT&T to build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state’s borders at no cost to the state—or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which would require the state to be responsible for building and maintaining the RAN for the next 25 years.