California this week issued a request for information (RFI) in hopes of attracting proposals from bidders interested in building and operating a statewide public-safety LTE radio access network (RAN), if California decides to pursue the opt-out alternative to FirstNet’s nationwide deployment plan for the state.

In the RFI document released by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), the state notes that no decision to pursue the “opt-out” alternative—in which the state would build and maintain the RAN, as opposed to FirstNet and its nationwide contractor—has been made yet.

“The primary objective of this RFI is to solicit creative and collaborative business model recommendations for a potential public-private partnership(s) (P3) to build a California-deployed RAN,” the RFI document states. “In the event California determines that an ‘opt-out’ solution is in its best interest, the state-deployed RAN will be required to interoperate with FirstNet.

“It should be noted that the objectives for the FirstNet in California alternative RAN RFI are seen from a statewide perspective and, as such, are statewide in scope. However these objectives should not be viewed in isolation. The California state-deployed RAN will need to integrate with the FirstNet NPSBN and operate as a single network, guaranteeing seamless interoperability between ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ states.”

This sentiment was echoed by Bruce Alexander, spokesman for Bruce Alexander, spokesman for California OES.

“This [RFI is being released] in an effort to obtain as much information as possible for available options for building out California’s Radio Access Network,” Alexander stated in an e-mail to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We’re working with California First Responder Network Board of Directors, the State’s advisory committees, and First Net to make certain California’s needs are met.

“We’re continually looking for ways that improve first responder communications system to ensure that people in emergency situations can communicate to emergency responders in a safe and timely manner. Working with other public-safety agencies in the state, Cal OES is dedicated to providing the best emergency services possible. Modifications or refinements are continually being made to California’s emergency communications system in order to keep up with today’s ever-changing technology.”

California is the largest state to initiate a procurement process with the stated purpose of examining its opt-out options during the past year. New Hampshire, Alabama and Arizona have issued requests for proposals (RFPs), while California chose to release an RFI, the results of which will not generate detailed proposals from a financial standpoint.

In fact, the California procurement document included emphasized language that “respondents to this RFI should not include any pricing information in their responses.” However, the RFI does call on respondents to “establish pricing structures to support services packages that include data, voice, messaging, streaming and location services and that promote optimum public-safety subscribership while maintaining financial sustainability.”