Fri Apr 8 10:45:50 2016
From our Friends at NPSTC: A Reminder to Honor those who also serve:
“National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NPSTW) is April 12-18. Next week NPSTC and communities across the U.S. will recognize those who help save lives in times of personal or national crisis. The Association of Public-Safety Officials (APCO) International has established an NPSTW blog where agencies can share celebration ideas and photos of this year’s festivities. Citizens can also share thoughts of gratitude and personal stories.”
According to APCO, “Initially conceived in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California, Telecommunicators Week was created to raise public awareness of the hard work and dedication of public safety telecommunicators.” Learn more about NPSTW at npstw.org.
And April is Also 9-1-1 Education Month. The National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA’s) website asks, “Do you know how to make 9-1-1 work for you? For 40 years, 9-1-1 has served as the vital link between the American public and emergency services. Public education and awareness initiatives throughout the years have contributed in large measure to the incredible and ongoing success of the emergency communications system as a whole. It is imperative that 9-1-1 professionals, teachers, government officials, media representatives, and industry leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to continue these efforts in the face of an ever-changing telecommunications landscape, and that citizens of all ages are well versed in the role they play in ensuring effective and efficient emergency response for themselves and their fellow citizens.”
FirstNet RFP Due May 13, 2016
FirstNet reported a number of capability statements had been received from prospective bidders. This bodes well for the final responses that are due in only a few short weeks. Then the real work for FirstNet, governmental agencies, and others tasked with reviewing the RFP responses will become intense. It appears as though there will be a general review of the received responses and then sections will be distributed to experts in the various areas covered by the RFP. For example, the FirstNet CTO staff and one or more other government organizations with cybersecurity skills, and perhaps even some private sector experts might review the cybersecurity portion of the RFP.
FirstNet has stated that it intends (or wants) to award the RFP before the end of the year, and while this will require an extraordinary effort from everyone involved, it probably can be done barring any legal challenges along the way or after the award is made. Once the award is made it will also take some time to complete all of the paperwork and make sure every single federal requirement is met. Then the most important part of this project will begin: building the network and putting it into operation.
I suspect that if the winner is an existing network operator the network build could be accomplished faster than FirstNet has planned since most of the sites will already have that network’s equipment on them. Yes, there will be some delays due to local permitting issues, tower site wind loading, and facilities modifications but one thing the U.S. network operators and their partners know how to do is to roll out a network in a timely fashion. While I do not have exact stats, I believe the network operators rolled out their own commercial LTE in the United States faster than they rolled out their 2G and 3G networks.
If the winner is not an existing network operator but has a relationship with one or more network operator, things will still progress nicely but perhaps a little slower because of the winner having to start from scratch at a number of sites. The most telling part of the build to me will be how FirstNet and the feds handle the multitude of change orders that will naturally have to be generated and reviewed. Sites may have to be juggled, some towers may not have enough capacity, or coverage might have to shift. All of this is normal with cellular systems such as this. If these change orders can be handled in a swift and orderly fashion, as in a purely public company build, delays should be minimal. However, there are, as with any new system, many moving pieces that have to fit together in order to make the network a true network.
The receipt of the RFP responses by FirstNet will mark an end and a beginning. It will be an end to the many, many years it has taken to reach this point. Many people spent a great deal of time setting this into motion even before FirstNet was conceived of or the law was passed in 2012. It is also the beginning of providing the Public Safety community with the additional capabilities it needs in its day-to-day work as well as during major incidents. While growing pains, delays, and operational issues will crop up and have to be handled, I believe this can and will be accomplished in a timely manner.
FirstNet has come a long way and along with its new partner it still has a long way to go. Still, May 13, 2016, is a significant milestone for FirstNet and for Public Safety.
Last week I teased our readers with my comments on a new income model we believe we have discovered. The interest in our ideas and concepts was high. It included, as you might imagine, queries from vendors, states, consultants, and others. A number of people decided we were simply considering IoT (the Internet of Things, or for us old timers, machine-to-machine communications), which should add to the income stream. However, that is not the model we continue to explore, and for which we are gathering data. I am sure that over the course of the FirstNet network implementation other financial models will come to light in addition to ours. However, for right now, the more we explore the concept the more certain we are that we may have a way to help the winning vendor increase its revenue stream and, therefore, its return on investment.
Andrew M. Seybold
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