An evaluation team for the state of Michigan selected Rivada Networks’ bid as the best submitted in response to a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a vendor to construct and maintain a public-safety LTE radio access network (RAN), if the state chooses to pursue the “opt-out” alternative to FirstNet’s state plan.

Under the Michigan evaluation process, a vendor must submit a proposal that receives a minimum score of 80 technical points—out of a possible scale of 100—to be deemed a “responsible bidder” that warrants further review, according to the state’s recommendation document. Rivada Networks—bidding under the “Rivada Michigan” moniker—submitted the lone proposal to meet this standard, receiving the minimum score of 80.

Michigan’s evaluators gave Rivada Michigan high scores for its coverage maps, deployment timetable and system design for security. Concerns about Rivada Michigan bid included “failure to identify a no-cost model” for Michigan and a note that the proposal “left the state responsible for maintenance and deployables,” according to the evaluation document.

Rivada Michigan’s proposal was judged to be vastly superior to those submitted by Macquarie Infrastructure Development and Crown Castle, which garnered scores of 35 and 3 technical points, respectively.

Based on the evaluation, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) office recommends that the Rivada Michigan proposal be compared with the FirstNet public-safety LTE state plan “to determine the best-value bid.”

As in other U.S. states and territories, the governor for the state of Michigan has the option of accepting the FirstNet state plan or pusuing the “opt-out” alternative. Under the FirstNet state plan, AT&T—FirstNet’s nationwide contractor—would build, maintain and upgrade the RAN for Michigan for the next 25 years. Under an “opt-out” scenario, the state would be responsible for contracting with a vendor—presumably Rivada Michigan—to build, maintain and operate the RAN for the next 25 years.

FirstNet distributed its initial state plans on June 19 via online portals, with final state plans expected to be released in mid-September. When the final state plans are distributed, governors will have 90 days—with a deadline that is expected to be in December—to accept the FirstNet state plan or begin the “opt-out” process.

Although the initial state plans are designed to be “actionable”--enabling governors to accept the FirstNet plan early—they currently do not include several components that are critical to state considering the “opt-out” alternative, including the payments a state would have to make to use FirstNet’s 700 MHz spectrum and LTE network core under an “opt-out” scenario.

Michigan is the second state to complete its evaluation of potential RAN vendors for the purpose of having a RAN option to the FirstNet state plan, and the other state—New Hampshire—also named Rivada Networks to be its top choice to provide an alternative plan.

“We are honored that our alternative plan for public-safety broadband in Michigan will have the chance to be placed side-by-side with the federal government’s offering,” Declan Ganley, executive chairman and co-CEO of Rivada Networks, said in a prepared statement. “By putting out this RFP, Michigan has given its governor a real choice, as envisioned in the legislation that created FirstNet.”

In addition to Michigan and New Hampshire, six other states have issued RFP seeking vendor proposals for an alternative to FirstNet’s state plan: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

“With FirstNet’s draft state plans now in governors' hands, we expect more states to follow Michigan’s [and] New Hampshire’s leads,” Ganley said in a prepared statement. “This is only way to ensure that governor is getting the best possible network for his or her state’s first responders. We look forward to the opportunity to have our plan compared directly with FirstNet’s.”