Have you read the recent article by Donny Jackson entitled “Updated FirstNet Operational Architecture would make winning bidder responsible for most functions”. (Sep 24, 2015)
“FirstNet’s winning partner—likely a team of commercial partners—would have ownership of more than 63% of the system functions, with public-safety entities being responsible primarily for user-management issues regarding devices and applications, according to FirstNet’s updated Operational Architecture document released earlier this month. “
First off let me point out that without proper ownership controls a 63% majority has all the rights to the solution, which means minority shareholders have no power whatsoever. Well, I told you so. In essence this falls directly inline with what I recommended right from the start. FirstNet should run itself as its own Public Private Partnership and give ownership to the private side of the deal, thus incentivizing the role of the partner. BUT…. FirstNet needs to understand that this partnership is only to address the national footprint model and not the statewide model. The network will still have to be operated locally under State jurisdiction. Trying to operate FirstNet as a National Carrier will not work on this solution. Such a partnership at this level would address the need of FirstNet to tap into statewide networks, or combine resources for multi-state scenarios, but it won’t be able to address the daily needs of the local support, especially if there is revenue involved – of which this model starts to tap into. Public Safety users have a lot more demands that just some guy and a smart phone.
The same P3 model needs to be addressed and employed at the State level as well; only the State level solution will be more about local ownership and control, yet still utilize the centralized standards and requirements of the national solution. The Federal level P3 awardee will only structure a nationwide overview of all the State’s and Territories. It should not provide local service on a local operational framework. It’s a lot more than just providing monthly cell phone service for a fee. What happens when the private side wants to sell virtual network usage that is only within State boundaries? What happens if service models starts to outpace the local First Responder needs? After all, money is king in the PPP scenario and with 63% of the shareholdings why not start to dilute the minority?
This falls in line with what I had mentioned two years ago, FirstNet should consider a separate RFP and contract to outsource a national organization to operate, as a Program Manager, the network at the highest topology overseeing all statewide operations and the State's need to construct and deploy the physical infrastructure utilizing their own statewide public private partnership. I can think of 30 or more revenue producing service offerings other than just voice. If the P3 arrangement touches more than just Public Safety entities then that number would multiply tremendously. Why must we restrict the revenue producing products just to one awardee at the Federal level? What stake does the State have in the deal? After all isn’t it the States land, assets, local contractors, airspace and local First Responders? Isn’t the State generating all the local physical work to build the solution? Why can’t that State make its own profit on the deal? Why do we have to have the Federal Government come into the State’s jurisdiction to run and operate another federal monstrosity?
In the end all I am seeing coming out of this RFP will be the basis to creating another carrier that is modeled on the typical revenue producing business model that is specifically designed for commercial service. This RFP does not fit the business needs of Public Safety at the local State level. I’m afraid this is a very large train wreck that is inevitable, especially with threats of the new election cycle coming up. In my professional opinion, this is not going to go well for FirstNet and we will have wasted 4 years of work and money, as I stated in the very beginning of my blog entries.
What I can predict, is that the Federal Government will continue down this convoluted mess and the entire solution will be a huge waste of time and money, unless it can model this RFP correctly. In the end the entire network will be taken over by its 63% owner of the entire solution – that being the commercial carriers – thus taking it all away from the State’s and putting it directly into the commercial carriers pockets. Forget about using the network to help reduce taxes and create more jobs. Why don’t we just save ourselves all the headaches and just give the spectrum to the commercial carriers now?
But whom am I other than…
Just some guy and a blog….