Urgent Matters

Will other states follow New Hampshire’s lead and conduct their own RFPs for public-safety LTE?

by Donny Jackson
Feb 25, 2016

The state of New Hampshire announced that it received five bids in response to its request for proposal (RFP) to build a statewide public-safety LTE system. Now, officials in many of the other 55 states and territories likely are asking whether they also should follow the RFP path blazed by New Hampshire.

Given all of these circumstances, it would not be surprising if other states decide to conduct their own RFPs as part of the effort to prepare governors for the one-shot opt-out decision after the state plans are presented. After all, if New Hampshire—a middle-of-the-road state in terms of population density—can get five bids, many other states probably feel confident that vendors will give them proposals.

Even if the state RFP fails and no bids are received, some states still would consider the process to be valuable. While such a result may be distasteful, wouldn’t it better to learn that no one will bid before the opt-out decision is made, instead of discovering this is the case after the governor makes an opt-out decision and delays any potential FirstNet deployment by several months?

Based on the current FirstNet legal interpretation that opt-out states will not be allowed to keep any revenue generated that exceeds the cost to build and maintain the radio access network (RAN), it’s still difficult to imagine that states will choose the opt-out alternative, if the FirstNet state plan is close to what state officials want—the potential financial liability and political risk associated with opt-out alternative is just too great.

However, going through the RFP process may make sense for some states. Some may want the bids for comparison purposes, others may want them for perceived leverage during state consultations, and others may legitimately want a way to opt out of FirstNet.

New Hampshire officials are adamant that they have not made an opt-out choice already. Hopefully, that is the case, because doing so before evaluating the FirstNet state plan would be premature—for New Hampshire or any other state. But preparing for the day that opt-out decision has to be made is only responsible, and conducting an RFP this year to give a governor a choice is certainly one way for a state to meet its “due diligence” obligations. It will be interesting to see if states other than New Hampshire feel the same way.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 6

on Feb 25, 2016

I haven't seen any comments as to why they are requesting RFP's other than that they want the governor to make an informed decision. Could it be that their state constitution requires such action or it may be a question of they don't quite know (due to an unclear statute) and want to have all their bases covered. It could be a case of being overly careful.

It will be interesting to see if other states follow their lead.

on Feb 26, 2016

Another aspect of this is that the state's RFP was pretty bare bones, containing little or none of the security, reliability, availability and quality assurance requirements of FirstNet. Can FirstNet require that an opt out state's network meets these requirements as well?

who cares (not verified)
on Feb 26, 2016

There are only 50 states not 55 like the article stated.. Things like this makes me feel like whoever wrote the article is a moron!

on Feb 26, 2016

I'm guessing this won't change your feelings, but just to clarify, the article references New Hampshire and the "other 55 states and territories." FirstNet is required to submit its state deployment plans to 50 states and six U.S. territories (actually five territories and the District of Columbia, but they typically have been grouped together in FirstNet references). Thanks for reading.

User 98112 (not verified)
on Feb 26, 2016

States would be wise to follow NH's lead. FN has had more than three years to convince public safety of its value; and soon FN will be giving states 90 days post notification to Opt In or Opt Out. The Governors in Home Rule states generally speaking cannot force local governments to Opt In or Opt Out. They can elect for the state government only.

There is something about due diligence that demands a state and its local governments to evaluate -is this actually a good deal-the right thing for us.
Now FN is claiming the calendar is on fire-we got to hurry this up.
The present timing of FN is to coerce decisions without Public Safety Entities actually and entirely knowing the details. Like the open and public vetting of the selected Contractor, the real on-going costs, all of the actual terms, the informed expectations of outcomes, and most important the GIVE from public safety for the GET( loss of local control, loss of choice, the NPSBN spectrum being leveraged to force compliance with the FN Boards' cloistered decisions).
There is much to be concerned about FN as we know it today. States develop your own strategy. Don't just blindly follow FN; there are no public benefit reasons to do that.

Bob (not verified)
on Feb 29, 2016

Its all well and good until you consider that NH only really needs 1 tall enough tower to cover the entire state. There are west coast counties bigger than NH.

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