Members of the Board of FirstNet met on Wednesday, December 9, and voted unanimously to release a final request for proposal in January, to allow vendors to submit public-private-partnership proposals for a nationwide public-safety broadband network. The deadline for those proposals is May.
The FirstNet Board has been under intense pressure in recent months, as they have been developing the RFP. Urgent Communications reported Chairwoman Sue Swenson said, “This is a significant event that I think we will all remember. We have more work to do, but this is a big, big step forward to the nationwide broadband network.”
The RFP will be released sometime in early January. Vice Chairman Jeff Johnson praised the RFP because it presented FirstNet’s objectives, but left the methods used to accomplish those objectives open for vendors’ ingenuity. FirstNet will present a webinar to overview the RFP, and potential bidders will have three weeks to ask any questions.
Proposals from bidders are due in May. FirstNet board members anticipate a quick turnaround once bidding is closed, but that will be dependent on the amount of vendors who submit proposals. CEO Mike Poth said, “Obviously, if we have 10 offerers come in [with RFP responses], that will take us longer than if we have three offerers. There will be opportunities to accelerate the final evaluation period, depending upon the number of final offerers.”
Urgent Communications identified several factors that FirstNet considers high priority as they review proposals. The offerers’ “past performance, proposed network coverage and capacity, the ability to build an ecosystem, and whether the business-management proposal ensures that the nationwide network can be sustained long term.”
If everything goes smoothly, FirstNet hopes the public-safety broadband network will be operational in key locations across the nation in 2018.