As expected, the states of Oregon and Washington last week issued a joint request for proposal (RFP) seeking proposals from vendors willing to build and operate an alternative public-safety radio access network (RAN) in either state or both under an “opt-out” scenario.

Released last Friday, the joint RFP calls for bidders to make proposals by Nov. 13. Governors in both states must decide by Dec. 28 whether to “opt-in” to FirstNet—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan that would be built by AT&T—or to pursue the “opt-out” alternative, which makes the state responsible for building and maintaining the RAN within its borders for the next 25 years.

As with other state-issued RFPs, the Oregon-Washington joint procurement document emphasizes the fact that no contract for the Northwest Public Safety Broadband Network (NWPSBN) will be awarded in a state, if the governor of that state makes an “opt-in” decision. This RFP is unique in that it calls for bidders to make proposals addressing other scenarios:

  • A single regional RAN serving both Oregon and Washington provided by one vendor under one contract;
  • A single regional RAN serving both Oregon and Washington provided by one vendor but with separate contracts with each state;
  • A RAN designed specifically for Oregon, in case Washington decides to “opt-in” to FirstNet or chooses a different vendor through the RFP process; and
  • A RAN designed specifically for Washington, in case Oregon decides to “opt-in” to FirstNet or chooses a different vendor through the RFP process.

Both Oregon and Washington are seeking bids that do not require any funding from either state, including the financial match for any construction grant that may be provided by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

“The states are seeking proposals that do not require payment from either State for anything resulting from the design, building, operation, financing, maintenance, upgrading/improving of the NWPSBN, including any cost resulting from the proposer's failure to fully perform any of the responsibilities outlined in this RFP,” according to the RFP.

“Neither state shall assume responsibility for funding any deficiencies for anything resulting from the design, building, operation, financing, maintenance, upgrading/improving of the NWPSBN or that result from the proposer’s inability to fully operationalize and or monetize the NWPSBN spectrum in Oregon and Washington.”

Proposals should provide coverage to 99.5% of Washington’s total population and 99.7% of Oregon’s population, including at least 99.0% of the rural population in each state, according to the RFP. The alternative RAN design should cover at least 70% of the geography in Washington and 78% of the geography in Oregon, the RFP proposes.

In addition to Oregon and Washington, 12 other states have issued an RFP without having their governors announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision to date: Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Of these states, New Hampshire is only state to announce the winner of its procurement—Rivada Networks.