So clarification is coming out of FirstNet and AT&T on their PSBN contract. One thing I see missing from the discussion is anything having to do with a hardened and isolated solution. All we are hearing is how AT&T will use the excess capacity for themselves and how AT&T will allow pre-emption. How much do you want to bet that AT&T will never construct a separate network and, in fact, will only upgrade their existing infrastructure to accommodate a “supposed hardened solution” for FirstNet? You can see my rhetoric as comical, but the fact remains, since I started this blog I haven’t been wrong yet.
What we are actually seeing, as the result of this “partnership” between FirstNet and AT&T, is the actual implementation of a legal maneuver to pull the wool over the eyes of the Public Safety community by insuring a sole source contract to AT&T. This partnership will result in AT&T acquiring the D-Block spectrum for free and further isolating its competition, such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. That’s’ all this is. Since the signing of the law, all FirstNet wanted was to work with AT&T. Unfortunately, this has been a common practice within the telecom industry, all FirstNet has done is advertise an RFP that would only be answerable by AT&T.
By FirstNet declaring that all the “other” proposals did not meet the requirements of the RFP, when in fact they were never going to win anyway, gave FirstNet and AT&T admissible adjudication in the eyes of the law – so they believe. This is nothing new to the industry and has been done on a number of occasions with other large contracts. Once the key stakeholders know what they want, then it becomes a game of “how can we make you the winner and still make it look like a free and open competitive market”?
The only people who stand to gain from this fruitless effort will be AT&T…plain and simple….and maybe a few FirstNet people who move to work for AT&T in the future. It’s nothing new and shouldn’t surprise anybody. We’ve all seen it done before. Maybe we can have solace in knowing that all past endeavors, such as this one, ended in someone being the scape goat for the effort to which will cause the entire solution to fail miserably, plus destroyed a few careers along the way. This monstrosity of a solution will continue with FirstNet, as many have predicted, but it will now lay in the hands of the Governors as to whether or not their nefarious plan will succeed.
Regardless, the FirstNet plan will proceed with its current course of the opt-In deal. I have a few questions though; how will an AT&T solution beat out an incumbent provider like Verizon? How does AT&T stepping into its competitor commercial market seem competitive if its given all the tools to beat their enemy funded by the government? If AT&T tries to enter a market dominated by Verizon, then AT&T will offer a competitive commercial agreement for sharing the access to the spectrum in that geo-graphic region, further complicating the outcome and the desire that FirstNet is supposedly trying to obtain. At the same time the State “Opt-In” Public Safety Community will be cast as the puppet to the commercial carrier while still being exposed to a faulty infrastructure during a disaster. This is what happens when you try and force two totally different business models together.
Just because you can shake the oil and water mixture will never result in whip cream.
With a shared competitive matrix of commercial entities, which was never part of the original RFP, will in fact further seal the fate of the D-Block spectrum going to the commercial space. Any State that decides to Opt-In to the FirstNet deal with AT&T, will in fact be screwing up its own commercial market opportunities, thus government belayed services to the public. But what happens if Verizon doesn’t want to have AT&T even close to its market – which is the more likely case? What happens to the existing government contracts between the State and AT&T’s competitor? Will “Public Safety” priority take the existing contracts away from AT&T’s competition and hand it over to AT&T itself? How does this help a State’s economy and commercial market for broadband services? How will this impact Broadband America expansions? Will State Public Safety entities be mandated to ride on the AT&T solution? What about the Electric Cooperatives in the State who have existing contracts with an AT&T competitor? What happens if all State required infrastructures entities are, as secondary responders, required to take service from AT&T over their existing contract mechanisms? What happens if a State has all its 911 services laid out on AT&T’s competitor’s infrastructure? Seems kind of unfair to me, plus rather complex to manage.
For the Opt-Out State this is not a concern. The Opt-State can make its own Public Private Partnership, thus entice its own partners to provide broadband service statewide, that partnership may include Verizon, AT&T, Windstream, or others as part of the P3 consortium. Through the State’s new P3, the State can take ownership control of its network at any time, thus insuring the spectrum remains in the hands of Public Safety and not the commercial players. The State can benefit from a more expanded base of revenue and profit, furthering the enhancement to the State’s direct economy and critical infrastructure needs, while at the same time allowing for Private Commercial players to run and operate the broadband solution for the State for the foreseeable future. This will not be the case for the Opt-In solution.
But what do I know I’m……
Just some guy and a blog…..