Thursday, August 22, 2013
FirstNet - Top Down or Bottom Up? Politically Left or Right?
It's been an interesting week at the APCO conference. I think the entire conference got a major boost from all the FirstNet talk going around. Although, one suggestion to APCO .... whenever you have any 700 mhz, LTE for Public Safety, or FirstNet related sessions, please use bigger rooms.
There are many topics that I could choose to write about, but one struct me as obvious -- the demeanor of FirstNet is changing --- and I'm not sure if its good or bad.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I can boast about having a meeting with the leadership of FirstNet -- Bill D'Agostino, TJ Kennedy and Randy Lyon. We spoke about the Public Private Partnership model I've been promoting, its makeup, and how it gets implemented. I have to say that I am impressed at their understanding of the topic, which leads me to believe that the possibility of hope still exist. My gut feeling is that Bill D'Agostino is very true to what he wants to get done and has the ability to make it a success. It is easy to see he is facing a rather arduous plan of achievement, further complicated with a contentious board of debates (which I believe is a good thing). I was also equally impressed with TJ and his "get it done" spirit. He is a perfect fit for that role. And, although Randy Lyon was just recently appointed FirstNet CFO, I have to commend him for accepting such a role and I wish him well in his future dealings with FirstNet. He has to know it will not be easy.
The conclusion to our discussion I felt came down to two things:
Either we use the Public Private Partnership from the top-down, that being an overarching federal program to implement the entire network as a carrier type model, where private equity would be entertained to help pay for it.
We use the Public Private Partnership model to build it at the State level by inviting private equity into State based rollouts and contracts. Minus the Private Equity input, it is no different than what is already happening with LA-RICS and soon to be many more.
There is a lot of work that FirstNet needs to get done as to understand and analyze its situation so that it can explain, exactly, how the federal P3 model would work. Having been through the analysis myself I am not a supporter of it and I will continue to explain why....even if you stop reading my bloviating dialogues.
One method of implementation is more beneficial from the federal standpoint; and the other is more beneficial from the State standpoint. In the end we need to ask ourselves a few questions: What model has the better chance of actually getting done? Which path has the better solution for the taxpayer? Which solution creates more jobs? Which solution actually creates more of an economic boom for the market? Which solution does not rely on the taxpayers to fund it...did I say that already? And, ultimately, which solution can best meet the needs of local First Responders?
There are only two groups of people that can answer this question: FirstNet, who holds the rights to the spectrum, and the State's, who hold the rights to getting anything built locally. Both carry taxpayer burdens, whether federal, or state. But only one solution allows for the complete avoidance of taxpayer money....the Public Private Partnership executed at the State level.
There are a few others spewing possible business case solutions, i.e. carrier subscriber solution, or the spectrum management solution, but, both of these would be overly complicated and vendor specific. The best solution is none other than the State monetizing the use of its own spectrum for the purpose of delivering its Public Safety Broadband Network - and using private equity to do so.
Can you do both? Well we could do both, the federal P3 model and the State P3 model. The real question is which actually creates the best economic advantage over the other...and yes has the better political message? Eventually this will be drawn out into the press, and the public, as a fight between the left and the right....if it hasn't already. But, in reality, you would think that if anyone were to trademark the term ObamaNet for the purposes of casting ill-will, may actually be saying something positive for the President.
If FirstNet, under the direction of the current administration, were to stand behind the State based P3 model, they could position themselves as the savior who is driving down unemployment; fostering new economic development; relieving the taxpayer of burdens; all at the same time providing for the safety and security of a hardened Public Safety Broadband Network directly supporting our nations First Responders. Alternatively, if for example, FirstNet were to lead with an overarching federal program they, could in fact, be viewed as directly trying to erode the entire Public Safety Broadband initiative as a private political maneuver, as well as a private venture into carrier based relations that leans towards a few select individuals, or groups, whose intentions are to monetize this valuable spectrum for their own use. I would have a hard time comprehending that the latter is a possibility. Who in their right mind would purposefully undermine a State's ability to deliver its Public Safety solution directly to its constituents?
Just some guy and a blog....
Words to Live By: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (Steve Jobs)