Here’s a look at the most popular stories on  IWCE ’s Urgent Communications  from last week:

1.“Secret evaluation team will assess RFP bids” – Though the FirstNet board recently approved the final request for proposal (RFP) for the multibillion dollar nationwide public-safety broadband network, the full board will not be responsible for selecting the winning bid, FirstNet officials announced earlier this month. The evaluation team that will choose that winning bid will consist of some FirstNet board members and others from federal entities who  will spearhead the evaluation process resulting in a selection recommendation that will be formally executed by FirstNet’s contracting officer. “We’ve set up an evaluation team, which may consist of members of FirstNet staff, the FirstNet Board, senior managers and advisors, as well as our partners the U.S. Department of the Interior [DoI], the National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA] and the U.S. Department of Commerce [DoC],” FirstNet spokesman Ryan Oremland said in a prepared statement. “All members of the evaluation team will be subject to ethics reviews to ensure a conflict-free evaluation.”

2. “New Hampshire issues RFP for public-safety LTE system, but official says no opt-out decision has been made” – New Hampshire has issued a request for proposal (RFP) that seeks bids on a statewide public-safety LTE network, which state officials say will begin construction before FirstNet is expected to begin work on the nationwide public-safety broadband system in the state. New Hampshire released the RFP on Dec. 11two days after FirstNet’s board approved the release of the RFP for the nationwide initiative. John Stevens, the statewide interoperability coordinator for New Hampshire’s department of safety, says the RFP issuance should not be interpreted as an indication that the state will opt out of the FirstNet network. “We’re just looking at the options available in the landscape. We continue to work on a daily basis with FirstNet to accomplish the FirstNet goals … In my responsibility, I just have to make sure that we discuss all options,” Stevens said during an interview with IWCE Urgent Communications.

3.“PSAC report: Priority, preemption issues on FirstNet likely limited to secondary users, not public safety” –  FirstNet’s LTE sites should provide enough bandwidth capacity to serve the needs of public-safety users in disasters and day-to-day scenarios alike, a task team of technical experts from the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) recently revealed from a study on the topic. “We found very few—if any—scenarios or use cases that we felt would cause severe congestion on the network, based on public-safety usage alone,” PSAC Chairman Barry Fraser said during the public portion of last week’s PSAC meeting, which was webcast. “That was a good finding, because the real concern you have is when you get network congestion, or congestion at the cell site.

4.  “NTIA proposes rules to review, approve FirstNet fees each year” The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will be reviewing many key FirstNet fees to determine whether those payments are sufficient in covering FirstNet’s expenses but are not excessive,  according to an NTIA proposal that will be the subject of a public proceeding in January. “To be successful, FirstNet will have to win customers through competitive pricing and services,” NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling said in a prepared statement. “The approach we outline today will give FirstNet the flexibility it needs to respond to changing market conditions and meet the demands of its customers—the public-safety community.”

5.  “FirstNet board approves final RFP for early-January release, with bids due in May” – After what FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson described as an “intense process,” FirstNet board members recently unanimously approve for FirstNet staff to release the final request for proposal (RFP) in early January. Vendor teams will be charged with submitting their public-private-partnership proposals by a May due date. “This is a significant event that I think we will all remember,” Swenson said after the board approved the RFP release. “We have more work to do, but this is a big, big step forward to the nationwide broadband network.”