Georgia recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) asking bidders to submit proposals to build and maintain an alternative LTE radio access network (RAN) for FirstNet under a potential “opt-out” scenario, making Georgia the 13th state with an active procurement for an alternative-RAN vendor.

Georgia released the RFP on Sept. 22, and bids are due on Oct. 24. The proposed alternative RAN would be known as the Georgia Public Safety Broadband Network (GAPSBN) and would only be constructed if the state completes all of the tasks necessary to gain “opt-out” status, as outlined in the 2012 federal law that established FirstNet, according to the RFP.

Language in the RFP notes that “hardening of the network to public-safety grade is a primary requirement of the state,” and that Georgia’s alternative RAN would cover “greater than 98% of the state’s geography and 99.5% of its population.” Vendors should utilize the 20 MHz of 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum “to the greatest extent possible,” according to the RFP.

From a financial standpoint, the RFP notes that the state of Georgia has not appropriated any funds for the proposed alternative RAN, so vendors need to leverage excess network capacity from the RAN to make the system self-sustaining financially. Vendors need to ensure that they can do this while providing service to users at fees that “will be maintained at the lowest practical level” and making payments to FirstNet for the use of its core and licensed spectrum—costs that are not yet known.

Georgia’s RFP language calls for a 25-year contract term, with the state having the option to extend the deal for two additional 25-year periods. However, the only performance-bond language in the RFP calls for a $25 million bond.

Georgia’s issuance of an alternative-RAN RFP is the first such announcement in about a month, when the states of Mississippi and Vermont both released RFPs. As with other states that have issued alternative-RAN RFPs, Mississippi and Vermont noted that a contract would be awarded only if their states completed all other “opt-out” tasks.

Bids for the Mississippi RFP are due on Oct. 3, with bidders vying for the potential right to enter into a 5-year deal with the state that would include four 5-year renewal options to mirror the 25-year period of the nationwide FirstNet contract.

Mississippi’s chosen vendor also “must provide a statement of guarantee that they will sustain the operations and maintenance of the MSPSBN for the entirety of the 25 years, including but not limited to SMLA [spectrum management lease agreement] payments to FirstNet (including core fees), ongoing costs for operations of the network (including maintenance, upgrades, etc.) and any penalties incurred for not meeting the requirements of the SMLA as defined by FirstNet.”

Bids for the Vermont RFP are due on Thursday. The proposed contract term in Vermont is for 10 years, three 5-year renewal options to reach the 25-year period.