Under the current SLERS deal, all sites and network infrastructure assets are owned by Harris. The existing contract gives the state of Florida the option to purchase the EDACS system when the contract expires in June 2021, Marcella said.

“The state has the option to purchase the existing system at the end of June 2021,” she said. “When our contract ends, the state has the option to purchase the network. [To purchase SLERS] any time before then would require legislative approval and appropriation through the legislature.”

In terms of facilitating a smooth transition to the proposed P25 network, Harris is the only vendor that has the right to access existing SLERS sites to install P25 equipment at the towers before the SLERS contract expires, Marcella said. The state would be allowed access to the sites, if it wanted to build, operate and maintain the new P25 system itself, she said. However, if the state plans to have a non-Harris vendor like Motorola build, operate and maintain the system—as the SLERS arrangement is handled—the vendor currently has no early-access rights to the sites.

“The state itself can utilize some of those sites at no charge, but our competitor cannot,” Marcella said.

Harris hopes to win the P25 contract after filing its protest, but company officials acknowledge that it is possible that the SLERS network could be sold to the state or that it might need to shutter the SLERS assets when it ceases having the spectrum rights to operate. In addition, there is a possibility that the state of Florida might seek an extension of the SLERS contract beyond 2021, if the proposed P25 network is not operational when he SLERS contract expires.

“We are open to discussing it,” Marcella said of the extension scenario.

With the SLERS contract set to expire in June 2021, Florida state officials have a lot to consider, Marcell said.

“They have lots of options,” she said. “They can buy the network. They can keep the network until 2021, just the way the contract is. If the state is not ready to cut over at the end of June 2021, then they have to look at extending our existing contract, and [state officials have to consider] ‘What does that cost? How long does that take?’ and the fact that it has to be legislatively approved and funded.

“They have a hard date that’s going to be a challenge.”

Complicating the decision-making process further are developments at FirstNet, which has contracted AT&T to build a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). By the end of this year, FirstNet is scheduled to begin offering mission-critical-push-to-talk (MCPTT) services to its public-safety subscribers.