Thursday, August 11, 2016

FirstNet has really bitten the big one? Who would have thought?

Just got finished reading Steven Brill’s article entitled “The $47 Billion Network That’s Already Obsolete” (Sep 2016) Mr. Brill makes some obvious claims of federal government waste and unraveled requirements that have become the hallmark of a federally driven program. I don’t know about you, but have you notice that when anyone suggest the government has a solution for a problem, everyone rolls their eyes to the back of their heads?

The very same topic has been covered throughout my blog since the beginning – only now people are starting to notice. Maybe it’s the upcoming elections; maybe the fallibility of federal programs; or maybe it’s just plain old greed. The fact is what it is – we’re 15 years after 9-11; we’re 4.5 years since the law was passed; we’re 4 years since FirstNet was created and we still have nothing to show for it.

Had this one little man’s idea of pushing the Opt-Out, using the Public Private Partnership, been listened to in the first place, we wouldn’t be here. At the minimum we would have seen one, if not two, of our first State’s coming online already. I had envisioned as much as ten States having at least 75% of their networks completed….but noooo…..what an asinine idea for anyone to believe that such a grand solution, for such a complex requirement, could possibly come from a lonely little blogger, especially one that the Federal Government couldn’t come up with on their own? Well, I told you so. The fact is, and Mr. Brill points this out, the network that FirstNet is touting is in fact “obsolete” already. Welcome to 5G! And by the way, its gonna cost you more!

The fact remains the same, the only way this is going to get built is from the ground-up through a State initiative. With the kind of cuts that will be forthcoming, with a new administration, I can almost guarantee you that FirstNet’s budget will be cut and the States will be given the go-ahead to construct their own Public Safety Networks on the D-Block spectrum on their own dime. If that doesn’t happen, then the carriers will improve their own bottom-line ten-fold – and Public Safety will get nothing that they don’t already have. There is a solution though.

FirstNet needs to get ahead of the game and create templates for design, project schedules and frameworks for State driven RFPs, then help organize the State’s to start construction of their own Opt-Out solution. If FirstNet doesn’t take these steps, then their very existence will be scant for future dealings – in short, you don’t take these steps you will be disbanded. What do you honestly believe the outcome is going to be when FirstNet announces a carrier relationship solution for Public Safety Broadband? Do you think it’s all going to be hunky-dory and everyone is just going to go along with the plan? Do you think it won’t become a contention of legal debate for years to come? Do you really think it won’t be impacted with a change of administration? The only thing FirstNet has created so far, is a centralized socialistic voice of one-size-fits-all. If FirstNet wants to show any hint of success, it needs to start engaging the States to build their own solution and stop screwing around. Just because the carriers believe that if they delay, and demonstrate contention in the ranks, that they will get the spectrum through an “I told you so” event, they will be sorely mistaken.

FirstNet is the end-game for any national carrier that tries to take its reigns away from Public Safety. The political quagmire associated with trying to build such a network solution will be catastrophic for even the largest of carriers. Can you imagine all the lawsuits if States are pushed towards such a solution? FirstNet has the makings for the worst financial boondoggle in the history of the United States – if not the world.

What about the States though?

Well, each State has the ability to use its own resources to advertise a Public Private Partnership(P3) RFP to construct their statewide solutions. Through the P3 the State will get its funding, its self-sustainment, its ownership control, revenue, and a solid Public Safety infrastructure for the foreseeable future. As I have stated in past articles, a State doesn’t need FirstNet – FirstNet needs the State.

If FirstNet continues down this path who loses? Public Safety loses. Who wins? The carriers do. The carriers will eventually get all the spectrum because “they are the only ones that know how to build a broadband network” – right? I’ve been in the telecom industry for 30 years, the carriers don’t even build their own networks. What makes you think they can do any better than just an entrepreneurial blogger? After all, it was a lonely little railroad worker, turned scientist, that created the first telegraph networks that became the catalyst to all the world’s telecommunication infrastructures. It wasn’t the government that decided it needed to talk to other stations along the railroads. The government didn’t just put out an RFP expecting everything would be great. It was a lonely little citizen who felt he needed to create a solution for a problem he faced daily. You can’t get more “ground-up” than that. Today’s FirstNet solution is no different. Stop thinking about the end-game, the entire solution, and the limelight of control -- start focusing on the seed and where you need to plant it.

I continue to push the idea that the State needs to take hold of its own destiny and move on. Stop waiting for something from the federal government that will never come. The FirstNet solution is so misconstrued, that its downfall will be a long slow collapse of bureau-crap-tic solutions festering away with the stench of wasted money, time, and resources only to be savored by long-term overly paid government workers that will have nothing to show for it but a pension of poor healthcare benefits.

Just some guy and a blog…..

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