If the federal government sticks to its plan, by November 1, it will award a contract for the First Responder Network Authority — FirstNet. Wells Fargo Securities believes the time-table remains on-track.
FirstNet is tasked with cost-effectively creating a nationwide network and providing wireless services to public safety agencies across the country. The goal is to end decades-long interoperability and communications challenges for first responders.
The upside for the company that wins the contract is phenomenal. FirstNet provides wireless carriers the opportunity to procure 20MHz of nationwide 700MHz spectrum to build, operate and maintain a nationwide safety network. The government will pay carriers $7B+ to do so, according to Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche.
“Barring a national emergency, we estimate the spectrum will be less than 1 percent penetrated by public safety needs, which provides the winner with access to that excess capacity,” she said. Her team believes whoever is a winner may be getting a once in a lifetime opportunity. “When the government opens its checkbook — carriers should seize the day, especially ahead of a new administration and a new FCC,” she added.
Two potential winners may be Rivada Networks and “Big Blue” (AT&T), Fritzsche believes. FirstNet President TJ Kennedy said at the 2016 CCA Mobile Carriers Show earlier this year that public safety officials nationwide lobbied Congress for several years to make sure they could access spectrum and obtain the needed funding to ensure this network would not only get deployed, but also provide the kinds of upgraded and recapitalized services that public safety needs, Inside Towers reported.