Here I sit in another airport waiting about to board another plane to talk about the Public Private Partnership. In taking a temperature of how things are progressing I would have to say that things are in fact progressing -- at least in the background.
It is becoming evident to the influencers that the only real possibility of delivering this network is through a Public Private Partnership between the State, FirstNet and Private Equity. Unless of course a State really does want to raise taxes to fulfill the capital needs of building their own solution. To tell you the truth I have spoken with more than 30 States now and I have yet to find one that is real thrilled with going back to their State Legislature to ask for a budget. And there doesn't seem to be many supporters of the Federal Government coming in to build it either. Let alone a State that really believes the Federal Government will be able to fund the entire solution, especially a State's portion, of the national rollout of Public Safety Broadband. In reality, if a State hasn't realized it yet, they will be the ones left holding the bag on this if they believe the Feds will come in and do it for them. Too many promises from a Federal Organization promising to be a broadband provider ... and using a similar commercial carrier model that has caused so much headaches in the past.
The fact is that a majority of all the build will execute at the State level -- local contractors, local resources, local contracts, local constituents, local legislation. This is actually a good thing. It allows the State to implement its own private entity to design, build, operate and maintain the State's broadband solution so that the State can benefit from the monetization of the spectrum allocated by FirstNet. And yes, of course, this will all be done per the technical requirements of interoperability outlined by FirstNet. It's not about the technical solution; it's all about the management and financial governance.
The opportunity lies with the State -- Local State entities, i.e. police, fire, EMS, Utilities, Transportation, etc.. will all be able to disperse the risk of the technology curve into a centralized organization within the State and controlled by the State via board ownership representation. Not only that ... it will allow those same State entities to concentrate on their own business models and to subsidize the PSBN architecture by using the assets and investments already made in advancing their own telecommunication business needs. I won't get into all of them here but there are bunch of pluses in pursuing the Public Private Partnership model I have been presenting. Just the fact that a State can control and fund an entire broadband solution for the State without having to ask for a budget from State Legislature should be a deal maker alone. Can you imagine the political future of an incumbent, or newly elected official, if he/she were to run on such a platform?The job creation and the fostering of broadband service models to excel a States commerce causes are another great highlight. The solution has even been highlighted by the President in a recent "Presidential Memorandum -- Expanding America's Leadership in Wireless Innovation":
"Expanding the availability of spectrum for innovative and flexible commercial uses, including for broadband services, will further promote our Nation's economic development by providing citizens and businesses with greater speed and availability of coverage, encourage further development of cutting-edge wireless technologies, applications, and services, and help reduce usage charges for households and businesses."
The fact of the matter is that this Public Private Partnership is the only viable solution to which all that partake can benefit from -- to include the carriers and FirstNet (especially the carriers). Even though the network is prioritized for First Responders the fact is that we are creating a great infrastructure tool that will dramatically change the landscape of how all State and Federal Government can operate when it comes to broadband wireless access. The consolidation into all IP (Internet Protocol) networks using private broadband wireless will change the mindset in how the government will allocate funding and grants to support broadband access across the nation touching all facets of social context, especially as it relates to the Government supporting the people and the national infrastructure that we all need.
Imagine: instead of FirstNet worrying about spending the $2 Billion in grants, and the prospects of truly acquiring the additional $5 Billion through the sale of spectrum, what if they could just use that money to outfit a national entity to control the network nationally and then focus on ownership percentage in each of the State's P3 implementations? I can guarantee you that they would make a lot more money for reinvestment than trying to fight against the flood of taxpaying concerns. If the State can avoid the taxpayer base, and the budget approval process of their own State Legislature, FirstNet can do the same.
Just some guy and a blog....