FirstNet Award Details
FirstNet Names AT&T Partner to Build $46.5 Billion Network for First Responders Nationwide
FirstNet completed its RFP process for the NPSBN contract and on March 30, 2017 U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross awarded a 25-year contract with AT&T. This contract determines the NPSBN contractor for states that choose to Opt-In and accept the FirstNet offered State Plan; the alternative is for a given state to Opt-Out and pursue its own contractor to construct, maintain and operate their own RAN over the 25-year period.
FirstNet's RFP followed a Statement of Objectives (SOO) format rather than a requirements-based approach. This strategy was intended to encourage bidders to bring forward their best solutions and not constrain proposals to a preconceived solution. RFP Evaluation Factors were to include: Business Management, Coverage & Capacity, Products & Architecture, Value Proposition, and Past Performance.
Two other competing offerors have publicly confirmed having submitted bids: pdvWireless and Rivada-Mercury. Both were removed from consideration, with Rivada-Mercury protesting their elimination from consideration prior to reaching the final negotiation stage. Court proceedings upheld FirstNet's selection process, allowing the eventual award to AT&T.
Details of the contract are still being released. In mid-June, detailed Draft State Plans will be made available to each state SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for review. Until that time, the following is a summary of what has been publicly released.
- 25-year Contract/Commitment with AT&T - The contract term is for 25 years. AT&T will construct, operate, and maintain the network, including keeping the network current as technology moves ahead. Because the network is based upon and integrated with AT&T's commercial network, there is every reason to expect that continued advances in commercial mobile data technologies will be made available to the users of the NPSBN.
- Baseline network is entire AT&T Commercial Network (incl. Wi-Fi) - Substantial existing network coverage will be available on "Day 1" if a state chooses to Opt-In.
- Add Band 14 where needed (e.g., capacity increase) - Although AT&T will have the right to use Band 14 spectrum in all Opt-In states, they have stated that they will implement Band 14 where needed and as it makes economic sense to do so. For example, if a given area already has non-Band 14 commercial infrastructure in place and it is providing sufficient capacity, they may choose to not add Band 14 at that time. Alternatively, if they are upgrading equipment on a particular tower, they may choose to install Band 14 equipment for future use.
- Quality/Priority/Pre-emption (QPP) on all LTE infrastructure regardless of Band - Although NPSBN legislation only requires Band 14 to provide QPP to FirstNet subscribers, AT&T's solution implements first responder QPP on all AT&T LTE infrastructure regardless of the band. This means that QPP is provided from "Day 1" to opt-in states.
- Multiple Tier QPP - AT&T has stated that QPP will be provided as a tiered service with first responders in the first tier. Details on how subsequent tiers will be used and by whom have yet to be released.
- Dedicated Service Desk for Public Safety - AT&T will provide a dedicated service desk for public safety.
- Key Subcontractors and existing relationships - AT&T has identified the following key partners/relationships and their roles in the NPSBN:
- Motorola: purpose-built public safety mobile applications, software, and services that bridge communications between land mobile radio and LTE
- General Dynamics: systems integration & program management, broadband engineering skills, deployable telecomm assets, and cybersecurity resources
- Sapient Consulting: public safety application ecosystem, and web portal
- Inmarsat Government: portfolio of satellite communications solutions with value-added services
- An existing and extensive network of subcontractors and OEMs
- 45 US rural telecomm providers, and domestic wireless roaming agreements with 25 companies