Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of FirstNet being established, but the brief notes that the notion of nationwide interoperable network was first proposed by the 9/11 Commission in 2004.

“As the pending bid protest has delayed the award of the FirstNet contract and moving forward with the build out of the FirstNet network, [Boston and BayRICS] are compelled to respectfully request that the Court decide this matter without any unnecessary delay, so that the important build out of the FirstNet network can proceed,” according to the brief.

If Kaplan rules in favor of the U.S. government and Rivada Mercury does not appeal the case, the FirstNet board could award its nationwide contract soon, according to multiple industry sources. If Rivada Mercury prevails, its bid would need to be evaluated within the “competitive range” stage, and the outcome of that evaluation would be subject to another potential protest—a scenario that could extend the delay by months, sources said.

Perhaps the most intriguing scenario is one in which the court rules in favor of the U.S. government and Rivada Mercury appeals the decision.

Procurement experts note that there is precedent that would allow FirstNet to proceed with awarding the contract in that situation, pending the outcome of the appeal. However, pursuing this path could be risky: If Rivada Mercury were to win the appeal, FirstNet and states would be in the difficult position of having to halt—or undo—initiatives associated with outreach, state-plan development and preparations for “opt-out” decisions.

Rivada Mercury argued in its original complaint that the circumstances in the case deserve extra scrutiny from the court, because AT&T is the only bidder remaining in the “competitive range” of the FirstNet procurement. Rivada Mercury also argued its belief that it could address the evaluation team’s concerns in an oral discussion of its proposal—something that only would happen within the “competitive range” stage of the procurement.

Details of the Rivada Mercury complaint are known only to court participants, because the publicly available version of the complaint—filed on Nov. 30—is redacted to protect proprietary information about the bid. Since then, all substantive written briefs in the case have been sealed to the public.

One legal document in the case noted that U.S. government officials have agreed that the nationwide FirstNet contract would not be awarded before March 1, but that commitment would have any impact on the court’s decision-making timetable, according to legal sources.

U.S. state and public-safety officials are keenly interested in the outcome of the case. The FirstNet procurement award is the action that would establish the timetable for myriad processes, including the nationwide FirstNet deployment and states’ decisions whether to pursue the “opt-out” alternative.