Sunday, August 25, 2013

FirstNet Public Private Partnerships finally starting to take hold! But regional deployments won't work.

In a recent interview by Donny Jackson, of Urgent Communications, Bill D'Agostino is quoted as saying, “I think that we’re going to need to look at this regionally—with the opportunity for bidders to bid for multiple regions—but I don’t think we want to approach this at a winner-take-all national level. I think we have to be as specific regionally as we can be, and I think we’ll end up with a better-quality product that way. I’ve always said—and continue to say—that we need to let the market continue to drive us. But we’ve made the decision, for example, to align with the FEMA regions, and we think that makes the most sense for right now, because those FEMA regions are the places where the relationships exist today in the event of emergencies and disasters, and they’re a great place for us to put our state-outreach resources and be able to work in that geographic context. And, I think, to a great degree, those will line up very good from a partnership perspective. So, our hope would be that we focus on the FEMA regions, and we’ll see how that rolls out from there.” (Donny Jackson, Urgent Communications, Aug 26, 2013)

We seem to be heading in the right direction, but, Houston I see a problem.

As I have spoken about in earlier blog entries, the tricky part of doing a deployment of FirstNet, on a regional basis, is not the technical, or tactical, ability of delivering a broadband solution -- its the financial governance. Geographically we can deploy LTE, backhaul and fiber transport solutions quite effectively, but, if you are inclined to use the Public Private Partnership model Bill is eluding too, you need to control your financial obligations locally. State constitutions do not account for one state collecting revenue from another State's public safety service entities.

Through a partnership you need paying customers to help fund your investment, deployment and long-term operations. Those customers will come from two-layers within a State, State public safety service organizations and federal organizations. From a Federal standpoint it would be easier to have one region to deal with when it comes to financial contract obligations, but, in reality each State operates differently with each Federal organization, thus would not footprint into a region very well. Plus, internal State public safety organizations typically may tactically operate well with adjoining States, but their budgets are usually approved through their own State legislature. It's impractical to believe that one State would just allow another State to collect revenue, or fund budgets, without their respected State legislative body taking interest, especially when the monetization of the D-Block spectrum is so valuable to the State. Don't know about you, but one State legislature is enough -- I can't imagine trying to corral two, or three, or eleven of them.

With that said, the concept of a regional deployment starts to fall apart. We have to remember that the standards for deployment; the selection for approved vendors; and the interoperability requirements can still be dictated to the States for their deployments, thus one overall network methodology and design. The real secret will be for FirstNet to grasp the P3 model in its entirety and then negotiate its own stake in each of the State's individual P3 rollouts. It really is the best way forward, but, given the pace of understanding, we still have some sludge to go through before the nay-sayers are brought into the fold.
In the end though, I can see that FirstNet is starting to understand the Public Private Partnership model that I have been evangelizing about. It's a start, but, FirstNet needs to realize that the State's won't wait forever on this, and can, in fact, deploy under their own P3 model without FirstNet, thus its important that they grasp the model and format it's template for all the States to utilize -- especially if it wants to capitalize on a share of the projected recurring revenue from each of the State's P3's.

Just some guy and a blog.....

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