Thursday, February 9, 2017

Rivada Wins!? What now FirstNet! Will the Courts see the light?

So the end of the written dispositions is said to be close to completion on the Rivada challenge to the FirstNet RFP. Ok, what do you think will come of the Courts decision? Me personally, I would have to side with Rivada on this one. Why? Does anybody remember the very first days of FirstNet? All the talk was about a 400-page business plan, that was not approved, yet paid to a non-approved consultant to produce? You have to remember that FirstNet, the organization, did not exist at this time. The only thing that existed was the Board itself. Remember the slide presentation by Craig Farrill in the first open meeting? In that presentation it was illustrated, right from the start, that the carrier(s) were their solution. Wasn’t even a consideration of anything else other than the carriers. A Board chaired by an Ex-Verizon executive, influenced by another Ex-Carrier executive, then illustrated by a non-approved consultant who produced a 400-page business plan to justify it, all should illustrate some type of bias. Let alone the fact that the Inspector General of the United States laid out its own findings back in 2014 that nefarious and coordinated collusion was present.

“We found that the Department’s confidential and public disclosure monitoring procedures were inadequate (see finding I). Board members did not file timely public financial disclosure reports (see finding II). Also, the FirstNet Board operational procedures for monitoring potential conflicts of interest need improvement (see finding III). In addition, FirstNet contracting practices lacked transparent award competition, sufficient oversight of hiring, adequate monitoring, and procedures to prevent payment of erroneous costs (see finding IV).” (IG report Dec, 2014)

How could any court not believe that the carrier outcome was the plan from the start, thus road-blocking any other consideration such as Rivada’s? The funny thing is, the carrier solution will never work in this case anyway. Trying to combine two business objectives under a business plan that does not fit the demands of Public Safety and the States was never going to work, but four years later we can see how screwed up things can get. I wouldn't trust the Federal Government to run my WiFi in my house let alone a nationwide network.

There is of course the timeframe issue! The timeframe for this Court started reviewing this case before the new administration took effect. How will this hamper the outcome? It is my assumption that the court will make sound judgement on the case by considering the evidence of the Inspector General’s report, as well as the material produced at the very first meeting, thus the outcome should align with a ruling in Rivada’s favor.

The RFP process was never going to upset the FirstNet goal of a carrier solution. Why? Because the course had already been set and the new appointees were not traditional broadband guys, those guys were vacated after the IG’s report. This put the entire effort in jeopardy. The risk of failure was worse than understanding what really needed to happen, thus they decided not to change course and instead double-down on their original plan. The RFP was just a ruse. Frankly, with the Obama Administration’s plan to centralize the role of the Federal Government, the carrier solution was the only solution that came close to fitting their needs. But, the reality of the situation, and this is coming from a guy who has been in the broadband industry for 30 years now, the Federal centralized broadband was never going to work anyway. The only way this network has a chance of being built, is via the State Opting-Out and building their own portion of the network using Interoperable standards.

Now we have a new administration – the Trump Administration. This Administration is all about less government, less government influence, less government control, and ultimately the footing towards protecting the freedoms of commerce. A centralized Federally run FirstNet Organization goes against everything the new Administration believes in. We are already starting to see changes within the FCC and Chairman Pai by going after Net Neutrality and broadband incentives run by the government – why wouldn’t we think that FirstNet would go the same route? Remember, the FCC, DOC and the DOJ rule the roost of the FirstNet Board, it was that board that appointed and picked the FirstNet Board. That Board still exists. The fact remains that with the new Administration the only real option here is for the States to take control of their own build-outs and their own Public Private Partnerships to deliver broadband statewide. There is no other alternative! Carpe Diem!

Just some guy and a blog…..

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