FirstNet responses to draft-RFP queries provide some insight into potential plans, leave many questions unanswered
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FirstNet responses to draft RFP queries provide some insight into potential plans, leave many questions unanswered
But more prevalent than clarifications and insights were FirstNet answers that stated the organization’s previous positions and/or acknowledged that a decision had not been made about a given topic.
For instance, FirstNet reiterated multiple times that it is open to any ideas from vendors that would deliver broadband connectivity to public safety as outlined in its statement of objectives while enabling FirstNet to be self-sustaining from a financial standpoint. As long as the arrangement ensures that FirstNet is not in a deficit position at the end of any year, the winning bidder(s) likely will be allowed to be as creative as they want in pursuing strategies to leverage the 20 MHz of public-safety broadband spectrum licensed to FirstNet.
“Other than the sustainability requirements and the pricing concepts identified within the Special Notice, FirstNet does not currently anticipate any restrictions on the resale or monetization of the excess capacity with a CLA,” FirstNet states in response to question 303. “However, FirstNet is requesting feedback, in accordance with the Special Notice, with regard to this topic.”
FirstNet has proposed that the winning bidder(s) would receive as much as $6.5 billion in cash, user fees from subscribing public-safety entities, revenues generated from the sale of excess capacity to commercial customers on a secondary basis, as well as opportunities such as the aforementioned cloud services. FirstNet responses do indicate that it expects that devices from multiple vendors—not just from the winning bidder(s)—will be available to users.
In return, the winning bidder(s) would build and maintain the public-safety broadband network and would make fixed quarterly payments to FirstNet to fund the organization’s ongoing costs.
While the broad construct of the FirstNet arrangement with the winning bidder(s) has been clearly outlined for months, many key details are still unknown at this point, including:
- The user base qualifying as a public-safety entity (PSE)—the subject of an ongoing FirstNet proceeding;
- What incentives/disincentives FirstNet will establish to ensure that winning bidder(s) takes actions necessary to get public-safety users to subscribe to the network;
- Section C-2, which will address the service-level agreements for radio access network integration;
- Section C-10, which will address cybersecurity and cyber hardness requirements;
- Comparable pricing that will be used to determine the “most favored pricing” that FirstNet envisions;
- How priority and preemption will work, which is expected to be a factor in determining how much excess capacity is available to be sold to commercial users;
- Coverage requirements, particularly as they relate to rural and indoor locations; and
- Data-throughput requirements, which are being reviewed and could be changed from the 768 KB/s downlink and 256 KB/s uplink from the cell edge with 50% loading.
In addition, multiple questions asked about the evaluation criteria for bids, which FirstNet said it would include in its final RFP.
Overall, there more than 200 references to “subsequent RFP” and more than 100 references to “seeks feedback,” indicating that FirstNet still has significant areas to address in its procurement process.