Monday, September 16, 2013

FirstNet and the States -- use the RFP process to build; or risk your timeline and funding!

One of the primary things that concerns the State’s, as they contemplate their decision to opt-out, is the RFP path. Given the size of these builds, and the complexity towards their execution, it would be smart to follow procurement laws and the RFP process. The competitive nature of the market place is down to three or four real LTE providers, but you don’t want to stake your build on just one vendor. Remember, the statewide deployment is heavy civils with project management, construction management, engineering and logistics for deployment. It has been demonstrated that less than 7% actually has anything to do with the LTE gear itself. If you don’t advertise under the open procurement laws all you will do is introduce delays where anti-competitive protests will be rampant. Nobody needs these types of delays, especially when you have such a tight industry to work with. Your best bet is to just use the process for what it was designed to do, else, you increase your risk in the scheduling, funding and technology areas.

Through the RFP process you will get a solid response from the major contractors if they are aware of your build-out. Depending on the timeline for the execution, local, civil contractors will come out of the woodwork. The issue will be organizing their responses under a managed umbrella of program controls. There are a limited amount of large contractors that have the ability to deploy these types of programs. Most of them dismantled their telecom efforts some years ago due to the fact that most lost their shirts in the collapse of the telecom market space back in 2000. Plus, depending on the State’s prevailing wages, labor union activity, and the commoditization of the basic construction services won’t make it any easier. If anything, the best way to construct your network will be through a fair and balanced terms and conditions on the contractors and focused on the timeline for the build. We need to create an environment where these players can start to prosper again. We got a lot of ground to cover.

Through the programmatic viewpoint, these large EPC (engineer, procure and construct) companies will be listening to the best solution for the State as to which technical solution is required. In the end the technical solution is closely aligned with all of the commercial vendors, and thus, focusing on this aspect as the leading aspect, will detract from the majority of your build. Look at this way; if you build a solid tower infrastructure across your State, then the LTE solution, and the backhaul, should be completely upgradable, or even open to full-out vendor replacement. You can’t do that with all your tower designs, builds and leases. Once you have that infrastructure in place you are stuck with it for the long-haul.

Just some guy and a blog…

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