FirstNet Releases More Draft RFP Answers

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today released the third batch of answers to questions concerning the draft request for proposals (RFP) and special notice it released in April (TRDaily, April 27).

Today’s tranche included answers to questions 283 through 516. In all, FirstNet received 670 questions from 52 entities about the draft RFP and special notice, including in writing and during an industry day held last month (TRDaily, May 14).

As with the first two batches that were released, the questions for FirstNet publicized today were all over the map in terms of information that parties were seeking, including questions about the number of expected public safety users, the leasing of excess capacity, payments to or from FirstNet, most-favored pricing, opt-out of states, and a competitive market for services.

For example, in response to a question about whether there are “any restrictions on the resale or monetization of the excess capacity with a CLA [cover leasing agreement],” FirstNet replied, “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. However, FirstNet is requesting feedback, in accordance with the Special Notice, with regard to this topic. Any additional information will be included in a subsequent RFP.”

It received several similar questions.

Another questioner asked when FirstNet anticipates “releasing state-defined coverage and capacity projections and priorities?”

FirstNet said it “anticipates refining its coverage objectives through its ongoing consultation process. Those coverage objectives may be included as a part of the subsequent RFP.”

Another questioner asked whether public safety users will “have the opportunity to benefit from a variety of end-user packages and the potential of positive market forces that can be created from competition of similar end-user packages from a large pool of interested small, medium and large-scale service providers?”

“One of FirstNet’s underlying goals is to provide capabilities that will prove attractive for Public Safety Users and motivate them to adopt FirstNet’s service to enhance the country’s safety,” FirstNet replied. “Competition will support that goal by enhancing the quality of proposed solutions submitted through the acquisition process and after award, through potential in-scope enhancements, by providing Public Safety Users with capabilities that are currently unavailable. In addition, FirstNet’s product offering to Public Safety Users will itself continue to be subject to market forces and competition and evolving technology.”

Of the projected maximum 13 million public safety users, FirstNet was asked “what is the amount of users expected on the FirstNet network in year 1,2,3,4, and 5?”

“This information is not available for distribution at this point in time,” FirstNet replied. “FirstNet anticipates developing subscriber forecasts through its consultation efforts, which may be released as a part of the subsequent RFP. FirstNet, however, encourages offerors to develop their own internal business models in developing their proposed solutions.”

One question asked FirstNet to “share a thumb nail sketch of the specific cellular network experience, product development experience, requirements development experience and incident command experience for each member of the FirstNet RFP team?”

“The Government will not disclose any information pertaining to the RFP team,” FirstNet said. “Per FAR [federal acquisition regulation] 15.303, the evaluation team will be tailored for the NPSBN acquisition which includes the appropriate contracting, legal, logistics, technical, and other expertise to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of offers. This may include both federal employees as well as contractor support staff.”

Some queries clearly showed that the questioner knows very little about the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established FirstNet, even though the authority has worked to educate stakeholders on the obligations and restrictions it and other parties face under the law.

“Will states be able to opt-in or opt-out periodically, or if they opt-in will they be required to stay in?” one party asked.

“When a FirstNet state plan is delivered to a Governor, the 90 day window to make a decision begins. The Governor can choose to accept and proceed with the FirstNet plan or decide to assume the responsibility of deploying and maintaining the RAN within the state,” FirstNet noted. “This decision is not one that can be changed periodically.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com