Competitive Carriers Association President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Berry said today that he is concerned that the framework the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has laid out in its request for proposals (RFP) could result in smaller wireless carriers getting stiffed by a national provider that is chosen to construct the nationwide public safety broadband network. “I prefer to look at this as a glass half full as much as I can,” Mr. Berry said this afternoon at the 5th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference, which was organized by Forum Global. He added that his smaller members have good relations with public safety, but he said, “How they do that through the FirstNet RFP is yet to be seen.”
Mr. Berry cited a provision in the RFP regarding partnering with rural providers. “The Offeror’s solution must demonstrate commitment to exercise rural telecommunications provider partnerships for at least 15 percent of the total rural coverage nationwide,” the RFP states. “While Attachment J-2 requests these data by states, the 15 percent coverage factor will be evaluated on a nationwide basis only for this phase.”
Mr. Berry expressed concern that as a result, an offeror would not have to commit to the 15% threshold in the rewarding of a contract.
FirstNet has stressed that one of the criteria that proposals will be judged on is whether they involve rural partnerships. FirstNet President TJ Kennedy discussed the RFP at today’s session.
Mr. Berry said he understands FirstNet’s decision to pursue a national, rather than a regional, acquisition. “I just don’t understand how that effectively enhances the smaller carrier participation,” he added.
“Many people ask me, ‘Is this a Verizon deal locked up and done?’ I don’t think so. I hope not,” he said. “But I would like to see innovative deployment alternatives that are much more from the bottom, or ground up, than from the top down.”- Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org