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FirstNet Issues RFP

March 21, 2016

The January 13, 2016 release of FirstNet’s Request for Proposal (RFP) is a crucial step to prepare states, public safety users, and potential private partners for the scope of development needed for the National Public Safety Broadband Network.  FirstNet plans to make an award by the end of 2016, with responses due by May 13. (See the RFP here.)

FirstNet is seeking the best partner capable of deploying nationally, as opposed to dividing network responsibility on a regional or state-by-state basis.  Within that framework, the awardee may still team with other vendors or even state and local government networks offering public safety grade infrastructure.  Given the project’s scope, this may offer opportunities for the District of Columbia to leverage its assets and experience.

At 542 pages with sections ranging from technical to contractual, the RFP attempts to present everything needed to realize solutions and promote resources to l help FirstNet make a well-informed decision. The RFP uses a value proposition assessment to lay out network needs, much of which was obtained from outreach and data collection.

Items of note to the District of Columbia include requirements for temporary coverage related to unique incidents and planned events (Section J-19 State Plan Template).  The RFP cites this as a large issue in rural areas, but the District will be impacted by uncommonly large events such as the Presidential Inauguration, which requires a huge amount of mutual aid.

Issues related to PSAP integration into the finished network, such as Next Generation 911, will be more efficient in the District as there is one primary PSAP responsible for all emergency call taking, including federal areas, the WMATA system, utilities, and universities.

When considering environmental factors, the District is one of the few jurisdictions dealing with a large amount of new construction.  Both residential and commercial development can affect the present and future infrastructure as well as determining coverage needs.

In partnership with a vendor, District assets can potentially serve several network requirements expressed in the RFP:

  • A Services Management Center and related back up centers may be embedded within District facilities.
  • Network architecture can benefit from OCTO-managed assets. 
  • For core design, the District can offer sites and assistance regionally, and rights of way outside the District controlled by city agencies such as DC Water.

Given the extensive fiber optic presence of the District’s own network throughout DC, it is likely that private partners bidding on the FirstNet network would also have had prior relationships with District assets and agencies.  This familiarity and experience could potentially translate into a winning strategy for both infrastructure and applications architecture.

The RFP process parallels FirstNet’s 2016 state engagement strategy.  As FirstNet briefs state leaders and the user community, the Department of Interior will administer contract submissions. 

More information on the RFP and FirstNet’s projected timeline: