Fri Apr 15 11:20:16 2016
Each week as I sit down to write this post for the end-of-the-week email blast, I first review the happenings of the week and emails I received about previous posts. Sometimes these emails thank me for my comments, sometimes there are comments that I got something wrong or don’t understand the issue well enough, and sometimes I am called a curmudgeon, which is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “a person (especially an old man) who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains.” I would rather think of myself as a realist who asks questions and tries to come up with answers. Perhaps my blog title, “Tell It Like It Is,” explains who I am or maybe I should have been born in Missouri, the “show me” state. I do tend to get annoyed easily but usually that annoyance has to do with those who talk about what the Public Safety community needs when they have never worn a badge, put on a turnout coat, or saved the life of a patient in the back of an EMS rig. (Yes, I have done these things.)
One of the things I recently reacted to was the crowning of Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk as a killer application for FirstNet’s broadband network when in fact it has yet to be deployed on a network that has yet to be built. This seems to be wishful thinking. My answer is that yes, PTT over a truly Mission-Critical LTE network could in fact become one of the killer applications for FirstNet. But ONLY after those in charge of the folks in the field whose lives sometimes depend on voice communications agree that PTT over FirstNet is an application, a technology, or whatever you want to call it, that they will trust their people’s lives to, and not before.
By now we all know that FirstNet has extended the due date for the FirstNet partner RFP response until the end of May, basically adding another two weeks to the two weeks it was already extended. I believe this is a good move on the part of FirstNet. I have said before that this is a complex bid, with many moving parts and many ways in which a responding company or consortium of companies can consider the requirements and propose solutions that will achieve the basic goals perhaps in ways that have not yet been considered. No bidder wants to submit a half-baked response simply because it doesn’t have enough time to review what it is proposing and poke holes in it prior to the submission date. I believe this additional two weeks probably won’t result in more responses but in better responses that will then be easier to evaluate.
This is the middle of April, which means the RFP response due date is only six weeks away. In the scheme of things and considering how slowly government projects normally unfold, these extra weeks won’t be noticed in the long run. Granted, we won’t know anything for a long time I am sure but at least the next phase of the process will be underway. FirstNet’s goal is still to choose the winning partner prior to the end of 2016 so that the real work can begin in 2017. (February 2017 is five years after the law that created FirstNet was passed.)
The Upcoming Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Public Safety Stakeholder meeting to be held in San Diego in early June should be very interesting. Not only for the always-good information that comes out of this event but also because it will be held only a short while after the RFP responses have been submitted. While I don’t expect any comments from FirstNet about who bid, I do expect some comments, and probably some rumors, about who bid and what it will mean to the Public Safety community. I have already made my reservations for this event and hope to see you there, too. For more information please see: http://www.pscr.gov/about/highlights/psbb_062016/
And finally from our friends at Inside Towers, a very good article about FirstNet’s Keynote at the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) spring event: https://insidetowers.com/category/featured-story/
Andrew M Seybold
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