FirstNet Special Notice, Draft RFP Docs Released

As expected, a special notice and draft request for proposals (RFP) documents approved for release April 24 by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board (TRDaily, April 24) were issued today. Questions on the documents are due May 27 and written responses to them are due July 27.

FirstNet acting Executive Director TJ Kennedy outlined the special notice and draft RFP documents at the board’s special meeting April 24, but the documents released today, of course, provide much more detail.

For example, the special notice detailed FirstNet’s proposed deployment approaches prior to the state RAN (radio access network) decision process.

“FirstNet’s proposed approaches, as reflected in Figure 1 Proposed Acquisition Approach, anticipates allowing for flexibility in a draft acquisition approach in order to promote innovation, flexibility, competition and ultimately best value to the public safety communities,” the notice said, detailing two deployment categories.

“Category One encompasses a single nationwide approach whereby an offeror would be responsible for the provision of all necessary high-level functions needed to deploy and operate a nationwide solution in accordance with FirstNet’s objectives. This category would allow potential offerors to submit a comprehensive offer for all in-scope functions for all 56 states and territories,” the notice said. “The scope of this single nationwide approach would include all high-level functions,” including a core, applications ecosystem, RAN, covered leasing agreements (CLAs), deployables, satellite capacity, and devices.

Category Two “would allow potential offerors to submit an offer for one or more State RAN(s) and CLA(s), which would be integrated with a nationwide core network and other RAN(s) to create a comprehensive nationwide solution. Offerors may aggregate states to form regions as appropriate and as defined herein. Category Two encompasses the RAN(s) and CLA(s) applicable functions for a State or region, and does not necessarily include all other functions … “

The special notice also said that “FirstNet anticipates that potential offerors will provide public safety subscribers with a broad variety of different mobile broadband price plans including unlimited plans, pooled plans, and metered plans, as well as multiple billing options. Therefore, FirstNet seeks feedback on the types of price plans and billing options being considered by potential offerors that will meet public safety’s needs. In addition to any feedback, the capabilities statement should demonstrate the potential offeror’s capability to provide a variety of plans.”

“As part of the overall solution, FirstNet anticipates that potential offerors will have the ability to provide public safety subscribers with a broad variety of Band 14 enabled devices including smart phones, WiFi enabled portable ‘hot spots,’ USB devices, embedded modules, and other devices that support public safety’s mission,” according to the special notice. “Therefore, FirstNet seeks feedback and information, as well as demonstration of capabilities, on the types of Band 14 enabled devices, pertaining to end-user price points, payment options, and specific device functionality that will meet public safety’s requirements.”

As for the proposed period of performance, FirstNet said it “has preliminarily determined that the overall period of performance should run up to 2032 (base and all option periods if exercised). FirstNet anticipates a base period of performance of award through 2022, with an option to extend through 2027 and a subsequent option to extend through 2032.

“This longer period of performance would allow for the ability to maximize value to FirstNet and its public safety subscribers,” the special notice added. “This is based on the determination that a longer period of performance would allow potential offerors to recoup, over a longer period of time, the significant investments needed to deploy and operate the NPSBN. In particular, FirstNet intends to utilize excess network capacity to at least partially offset the costs of the NPSBN, which may require a longer period of time in order to monetize and thus provide value to FirstNet.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com