Florida’s RFP called for bidders to build a P25 Phase 2 network that provides 98% mobile coverage throughout the state’s geography, as well as 95% portable coverage throughout Florida, including 25 miles off coast, Marcella said.

Harris proposed meeting the new P25 coverage requirements by leveraging the existing sites used for the SLERS network, Marcella said.

In fact, the Harris proposal calls for 190 RF sites, compared to the 197 sites that are support the SLERS network today, Marcella said.

“Because we were able to move some sites around and because of the benefit of new technology, we were able to provide more coverage with slightly … fewer sites,” Marcella said.

Given the fact that the Harris proposal promises to leverage the existing SLERS infrastructure from a Florida-based company, Green said that the intent to award the P25 contract to Motorola Solutions is puzzling.

“Harris’ proposal leverages the state’s extensive investment in the existing Harris-built network, which is one of the most robust public safety systems in the country,” Green said in a prepared statement provided to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “The state instead chose an out-of-state supplier to build a new duplicate network, when we believe an incremental investment is the more prudent approach.

“We are disappointed in the state’s decision, because we’re confident our proposal is a more efficient, flexible and less costly long-term approach. However, we will work with the state to better understand the award decision and our options moving forward.”

Another problem facing the state is the timing associated with implementing the proposed P25 system. The existing SLERS contract expires on June 30, 2021, at which point the new P25 system needs to be operational to ensure that Florida first responders can make a smooth transition to the proposed LMR network.

But the procurement process is not expected to be completed until the protest review is finished late this year, and a funding source to pay for the buildout of the proposed P25 network likely could not be identified until March 2019, when the legislature is due to approve the next budget. This timeline would leave the vendor only 28 months to deploy the statewide P25 system before the SLERS contract expires—something that Harris believes it could execute but other vendors would find very difficult, Marcella said.

“We believed it was achievable for us, because we’re reutilizing so much of the existing site infrastructure—towers, shelters and that kind of thing,” Marcella said. “Because we didn’t have to do a lot of site acquisition—we had no greenfield sites, meaning we had no towers to actually build—and because we … proposed an implementable design, we felt we could achieve it within the 28-month schedule and get it done by the end of June 2021.

“We think it’s a challenge for the state, if they don’t have a real design, if they’re having to build lots of towers, if they’re dependent upon interlocal agreements to utilize other people’s networks, we think they’re going to be challenged to hit a schedule that would facilitate completion by the end of June 2021. It would be tough.”

In particular, “it can take a year to get a site on the air” in densely populated areas of south Florida, given the zoning and environmental restrictions, Marcella said.