Michigan last week became the fourth state to issue a request for proposal (RFP) seeking bids to build out and maintain the public-safety LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state, if the governor chooses the “opt-out” alternative to FirstNet. Colorado is expected to issue its RFP during the next few weeks.

Michigan released its RFP on Wednesday, and proposals are due on April 19. In the RFP, the state notes that its decision to solicit bids should not be interpreted as an indication that the state has decided to “opt out” of FirstNet’s plans to build a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

“The State has not made a decision to accept the proposal made by FirstNet for a NPSBN to serve public safety entities in Michigan,” according to the Michigan RFP. “Neither has the State chosen to opt-out of the FirstNet-offered RAN to serve its public-safety entities. It is the intent of this RFP to explore options available to the State that will that will be most responsive to the needs of public-safety entities and which will be sustainable over the coming 25-year period.”

Some notable aspects of the Michigan RFP include language that:

  • Michigan’s legislature has not appropriated any funds for the project;
  • Michigan does not know how much FirstNet will charge the state to use its 20 MHz of spectrum and nationwide LTE core;
  • Michigan expects the RAN contractor to fund the payments to FirstNet;
  • Michigan “may pay maintenance and support charges on a monthly basis” to the contractor; and
  • Public-safety entities’ traffic will be provided the highest priority on the RAN, including “ruthless preemption.”

Michigan’s bid document also depicts the type of bidder it anticipates as the state’s potential RAN contractor.

“It is clear to the State that if it chooses to opt-out of the federal program, it will need a Partner with wireless network experience at the national level, financial stability, consumer sales channels, and access to and integration of Band 14 infrastructure into a legacy network(s) that provides both LTE coverage and capacity in Michigan as well as the rest of the United States for roaming purposes,” the RFP states. “Roaming provisions on a national wireless carrier during the initial operational stages of the MPSBN shall be a requirement of the Partner.

“This RFP contemplates a PPP with a wireless network operator with one or more national wireless networks for roaming service. A consortium or team that provides the equivalent services will be considered for qualification.”