FirstNet addresses network performance, rural partnerships and post-RFP negotiations in latest Q&A
Donny Jackson | Urgent Communications
Mar 10, 2016
An entire section of FirstNet’s request for proposal (RFP) that addresses the manufacturing location of equipment for the system was changed yesterday—an action related one of 64 answers to RFP questions that include clarifications about network performance, rural-coverage partnerships and post-RFP negotiations with bidders.
Yesterday’s release means that at least 330 answers about the FirstNet RFP have been given to the more than 400 written queries submitted by the Feb. 12 deadline. Additional questions can be asked today during the FirstNet pre-proposal conference call, which will be webcast beginning at 1 p.m. EST. Any written questions not released by the conference call will be answered as soon as possible, according to government officials.
Although the question-and-answer proceeding has resulted in several dozen changes to the FirstNet RFP, most have resulted in the alteration of a phrase or a sentence. But a question asking what steps would be taken to determine the accuracy of “origins of manufacture representations” generated a response that impacted an entire section of the RFP.
“Section K.3.2, Place of Manufacture (MAR 2015), has been deleted,” the answer states. “Section K, Representations and Certifications, references the specific requirements, representations, and certifications related to equipment that Offerors must include as part of their proposed solution, and that will be used to evaluate responsive proposals.
“Section K is being replaced in its entirety with this Amendment 004.”
For public-safety users, some of the most interesting responses to this batch of questions address issues regarding the availability and performance of the proposed nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).
One answer clarifies that the 99.99% availability within each reporting area for a 12-month period does allow some downtime during “planned maintenance windows.”
“Planned maintenance refers to normal maintenance scheduled for preventative measures (e.g., patches, upgrades) used to deliver stable NPSBN services to end users,” the answer states. “This level of maintenance shall occur only after a notice is delivered via electronic communication to and approved by the Government. This requires planning, allocation of significant amount of time and resources, and a high degree of coordination between the Contractor and FirstNet.”
Other answers noted that the 95% “confidence margin” for minimum data rates—256 KB/s uplink and 768 KB/s downlink—apply to the “cell area,” not the “cell edge” as noted in the original RFP document. There also were responses that reiterated the fact that FirstNet envisions its IP-based broadband system will provide voice interoperability with existing public-safety land-mobile-radio (LMR) networks.