Tuesday, April 5, 2016

FirstNet takes on the State Governors! Get your popcorn here!

Just read Donny Jackson’s article entitled “Here are somenotes about FirstNet that you may not have known before” (April, 2016) There was an interesting take on what he wrote in the article about revenue.

Opt-out states may not get revenue from federal subscribers in their jurisdiction. A state or territory that chooses the opt-out alternative will be responsible for building and operating the RAN within its borders, but those RAN costs presumably will be offset by revenues generated by public-safety and commercial subscribers within its jurisdiction.”

“For instance, FirstNet already is talking with federal agencies about subscribing to the network. With offices throughout the country, these federal agencies could subscribe to FirstNet and its contractor to receive nationwide broadband coverage.” (TJ Kennedy)

I may be mistaken, but to me this sounds like some competitive positioning. Is FirstNet starting to take an offensive posture with regards to State Opt-Outs? TJ’s statement about selling “nationwide coverage” to federal agencies may in fact be a false advertisement if you ask me. If a State decides to Opt-Out, then that would make the FirstNet statement of an all inclusive nationwide coverage a false narrative. The fact is the law states that a State can sell revenue based services through its own Public Private Partnership (P3).

IN GENERAL —A State that chooses to build its own radio access network shall not provide commercial service to consumers or offer wholesale leasing capacity of the network within the State except directly through public-private partnerships for construction, maintenance, operation, and improvement of the network within the State.

In the end, what we are talking about is that a State actually will not be selling anything in regards to any type of broadband service, if they are using the P3 model I am proposing, the only entity that will be selling broadband services will be the privately based entity that is created by the P3. The State will just be a minority shareholder in that company, mainly for the purposes of ensuring Public Safety and First Responder prioritizations.

For TJ to come out and state that they will be talking to the same customers as a given Opt-Out State would, only illustrates the fact that they are starting to understand that they need to start envisioning their own SWOT analysis to remain competitive. Once again, from what I can tell, FirstNet still believes that it is a national carrier, or is striving to be a national carrier, not an oversight organization to help insure the Public Safety Broadband Network gets built for Public Safety. Nowhere in the law does it say anything about FirstNet being a national carrier. IN fact it states just the opposite. But, lets go along with the idea.

So if FirstNet is already talking with some federal agencies and is selling “nationwide coverage” as a product, then they will be open to legal action as it is in fact trying to act like a privatized commercial entity. I can side with the idea that we do need one entity liaison the federal contracts with any given State P3, or FirstNet itself, but that entity should not be FirstNet. FirstNet doesn’t have any jurisdiction to act in that capacity, let alone try to compete as a commercial entity. There is one entity that does have the ability to work in that regard…hello GSA. Now don’t get all excited, most federal entities, outside of GSA themselves, think they can do a better job, but the fact is putting together a direct deal with a State, States, or FirstNet itself, isn’t rocket science. The agency will setup a yearly SLA for service with auto-renewal clause. Depending on what priority group the federal entity falls within, will dictate its SLA agreement for prioritization, while at the same time ensuring its untethered access to statewide, regionwide, and nationwide coverage.  Why does FirstNet think it needs to control the relationship between a federal agency and a State?  How the network is paid for is based on the same science the federal agencies use today when negotiating broadband services from carriers; only in this instance they will have priority and complete coverage. FirstNet may be able to assist with guidance on how the services should be contracted, but only from the standpoint of interoperability and approved vendor solutions.

If FirstNet wants to be out front of the pack, and offer some great advantages, then it really needs to sell itself like a private entity…. good luck with that (see my recent article about DOC and FirstNet). While FirstNet is out there trying to better itself over an Opt-Out State, the opportunity to join the State, and have its own shareholder position, gets further behind and more difficult to correct later on. All they will do is piss off the State Governors, thus losing their ability to self-fund and self-sustain. FirstNet needs the States more than the States need FirstNet.

There is a strong political tie with a majority of the red leaning States. If the nationwide FirstNet model becomes caustic and unapproachable due to political infighting, then FirstNet needs to understand that it only takes 3-4 States opting out to kill their aspirations. I can assure you that the political ties will be unbeatable if FirstNet tries to strong-arm the State Governors, ultimately putting the nail in the coffin for FirstNet’s plans. In the end, it still does not impact the State’s right to monetize the use of the spectrum for the betterment of its Public’s Safety and First Responder resources. And, it still does not keep the State from executing its own P3 to build its own piece of the bigger broadband network.

But hey I’m….

Just some guy and a blog…..

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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