December 22, 2016 —
This year began promisingly enough for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as it released its final Request for Proposal (RFP), which established a public-private partnership to build, operate and maintain a standards-based LTE Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). But it became a year pockmarked with missed deadlines and finally a lawsuit.
FirstNet adopted an objectives-based approach in the RFP, rather than a traditional requirements-driven model. The RFP contained 16 objectives, including deployment and provisioning of a nationwide core network and radio access network, backhaul, aggregation, national transport networks and operation centers, apps, and a device ecosystem.
Proposals to the RFP were due April 29, but that deadline was pushed back to May 31. But most critically, FirstNet missed its Nov. 1 target for awarding the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. FirstNet CEO Mike Poth wrote in a blog on their web site that the organization has made “significant progress in the evaluation process” but due to its “aggressive schedule” and the “complex nature” of the process the deadline could not be met.
Then, in early December, the other shoe dropped as Rivada Mercury Networks took FirstNet to court, claiming that it was wrongfully excluded from the procurement process. It was widely speculated that with Rivada out, the bid would go to AT&T. The lawsuit will delay the contract award until at least March 1, 2017.