Fri Apr 22 12:04:54 2016
I read with interest the current version of FirstNet’s Tech Talk: Updated Vehicular Network System Vison which can be found here: http://firstnet.gov/newsroom/blog/tech-talk-updated-vehicular-network-system-vision. It is a good vision and one that we were working on in 2013 for FirstNet but with some nice refinements to it. The satellite portion of the Vehicle Network System or VNS as they call it, makes sense for service in rural areas but I noticed that very important part of the satellite usage included in our version of this is missing from the FirstNet VNS. There is at least one company that is already building this VNS in several configurations and has some in service in rural tribal areas and with other types of customers and the results have been very gratifying.
After my comments about the emails I receive and try and answer each week I received a number of very positive emails from readers. One that I will share with you was from a subscriber who is very well versed in Push-to-Talk and all things Public Safety. He wrote: Great quote about the folks that think mission-critical voice on FirstNet is here and he included a link to this quote by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). I enjoyed the quote so thought I would include it for all of you: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
The due date for the FirstNet RFP for choosing a partner to work with is May 31, 2016. It does not appear to me that there will be yet another extension to this due date and I am sure that all of those companies and partnerships that plan to submit a response are working very hard to make sure they get the best proposal completed in time that they can. One of the things I am most concerned about is the fact that anyone of the bidders could file a lawsuit after the award is made on a number of different grounds. In the LMR world and even in the LMR/LTE world this type of tactic has happened all too often. It stalled the LA-RICS system for over a year, it disrupted the Federal Government’s failed attempt to roll out a nationwide LMR network to be shared by multiple federal agencies (iWIN), and it has disrupted city and county procurements small and large. Sometimes these lawsuits are justified but normally they are simply sour grapes by one of the losing bidders who does not take losing well.
I sincerely hope FirstNet and the Public Safety community will be spared the year or more delay in getting construction of this network started because of a lawsuit. Everyone involved has worked much too hard on this for way too many years to have to live through yet another delay in moving forward with this project. As I talk to many within the Public Safety community who were avidly following FirstNet’s progress I am finding that many of them have shelved their interest in the project based on the fact that it is moving so slowly. Many of those who were so hopeful for the creation of FirstNet will have retired by the time the network is ready for prime time and the generation that will take their places are much more skeptical of what FirstNet will actually be able to provide.
The best outcome will be a clean bidding process with a clean set of responses making the decision about who to award the contract to a tough call for FirstNet and the many feds who will also be inserting their two cents into the process. The winner should be the company or group of companies that will be building the network not simply to make money on the secondary spectrum use but to serve the Public Safety community as well. While FirstNet may be conducting the RFP and determining the winner, the most important part of this network is the customers, the Public Safety agencies that decide to get onboard and make use of the network. If it is not built with them in mind then the very famous miss-quote from a very famous movie will, unfortunately, become the quote of the day: “If we build it they won’t come.” We cannot let this happen!
Andrew M Seybold
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