FirstNet has made “significant progress” in the evaluation of proposals from bidding teams vying for the right to build and maintain a nationwide public-safety broadband network, but procurement process will extend “beyond the Nov. 1 target date for the award,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth wrote in a blog published today.

“From the outset, FirstNet set an aggressive schedule for the procurement, knowing that the timing of the award would depend on many factors given its significance and complexity, some of which are outside our control,” according to Poth’s blog, which is available on the FirstNet web site. “This is a highly complex acquisition that requires the input and support of multiple agencies and entities; it is critical that all parties are thorough and follow the necessary processes, so that FirstNet gets this right for public safety.  

“With all of this in mind, FirstNet will continue to execute the acquisition process outlined in the RFP [request for proposals] beyond the November 1st target date for the award. We will continue to work diligently with our Federal partners to complete the RFP process in line with the FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation], while being as transparent as allowable.”

In his blog, Poth did not indicate when a FirstNet award would be announced, only that it would be “beyond the Nov. 1 target date.”

Poth’s statement was not a surprise to most in the public-safety community that have been following the procurement process and are familiar with the process steps associated with the FAR, which is the procurement method that FirstNet is using to execute its contractor selection.

Although the deadline for bidding teams to submit proposals for the massive FirstNet project were extended by a month in the spring, FirstNet officials continued to maintain that Nov. 1 was the target date for announcing the winner of the procurement for the massive 25-year project. In recent months, some FirstNet officials have expressed confidence that the award would be made in the “November timeframe,” if not by the Nov. 1 target date.

With the FirstNet procurement process being conducted in private, in accordance with the FAR, the first tangible indication of progress to outsiders occurred last week, when pdvWireless stated in an SEC filing that the bidding team it was leading had been informed in writing that it had been removed from consideration for the FirstNet award.

Bidding teams led by AT&T and Rivada Mercury were the only others to announce publicly that they had submitted proposals in response to the FirstNet RFP, and most industry observers believed these two entities had much greater resources to meet the objectives outlined in the FirstNet procurement document. To date, neither of these teams have indicated that they have been removed from consideration.