FirstNet, you cannot rely upon the commercial sector to give you what you need. You are missing a crucial point…. supply and demand. If you want any commercial entity to produce products for your needs, you need to create demand. If you can’t create a large enough demand, then the commercial entities won’t produce. Why you ask? It’s simple, because a commercial entity works to create more revenue; revenue allows the company to hire and pay more people; new people buy houses, rent cars, pay bills and buy fancy phones; when people buy more fancy phones then the commercial entity can invest more creative product development; when a commercial company expands its product base it can sell more products, thus the cycle starts all over again. If you can’t create a large enough demand for the commercial entity to make more profit to fund their product development life-cycle, then your needs will go to the back of the line for future development, i.e. never happen.
The business model that FirstNet is targeting, top-down approach, does not address the life-cycle demand forecast that a commercial entity can use to foster their own life-cycles of product development. Once you try to ask the market to do something for you, i.e. the objectives based RFP, you will get a solution that best aligns with the commercial entities needs…not your own needs. Why? Because the commercial entity is just trying to fund its own life-cycle process and that life-cycle process has nothing to do with Public Safety. Why again? Because Public Safety does not create enough demand. If you can’t create that demand, then your model is in trouble and will never get off the ground…no matter how much taxpayer money you throw at it...thus the term "self-funded" and "self-sustaining".
Throwing money at the issue is not a solution for creating a commercial life-cycle. By throwing money at such an issue will actually only hurt you more in the long run. Why? Because all you are doing is propping up a capital solution to an operational need. You need to address the long term needs that can foster a cyclical approach to developing products. Throwing money at an issue will not create demand. Your demand can only be created by your users. If you don’t have enough users to attract product creativity that will develop your life-cycle, then you have nothing, thus no interest from the commercial space.
So what about the spectrum? If posting the spectrum as the viable alternative by trying to create incentive is your plan, it will fail. Why? Because now all you are doing is isolating your potential respondents to entities that can actually use the spectrum. A commercial entity that uses spectrum to sell services has its own life-cycle to fund; unfortunately for you the commercial product development life-cycle is closely entwined with product manufacturers. The guy that creates the most demand wins. If any entity gets complete access to the D-Block spectrum, they will utilize that spectrum in a way that optimizes their own revenue scheme that funds their own product development life-cycle. Once again, if you want to influence that entities life-cycle then you need to demonstrate a huge demand forecast that will move their bottom line – Public Safety does not create a large enough demand that influences the life-cycle of a commercial carrier…not even close. In fact, Public Safety impacts less than 2% of a large commercial carrier operation – and I’m being very generous on that figure. In the end, by posting the spectrum as the incentive will only create a path for the commercial carriers to taking over the spectrum. Why? Because money talks and it speaks very clearly to investors and shareholders.
What is the answer then? FirstNet needs to focus on a business model that creates its own life-cycle – you can only define a life-cycle if you have defined what your product is. As a hint: the only model that will create that product and life-cycle demand will come from the catalyst infrastructure that will be developed – a truly hardened, fully interoperable and complete coverage network infrastructure. But, in order to build that infrastructure to support broadband access, you need to focus on the local level needs that fall within a given State, else you will just have a huge mess of spaghetti processes that you can’t control later on. As I stated in an earlier article, all entrepreneurial efforts associated with creating a private commercial entity start with a strategy of creating demand surrounding a product. You haven’t even defined your product, yet, your trying to tackle the life-cycle of development for a product that doesn’t exist. Bassackwards is what we call that!
But whom and I other than…
Just some guy and a blog…