Washington, Oregon to Issue Joint Public-Safety LTE RFP
The states of Washington and Oregon will jointly issue a request for proposals (RFP) to operate a high-speed, wireless broadband data network dedicated to public safety. The network will not replace existing public-safety radio networks but will be another tool to ensure that first responders can communicate in times of disasters that tend to overwhelm existing networks.
The states expect to release their RFP within two weeks and close it about five weeks later. There will then be a period of evaluation and possible selection of one or more vendors to advance to the next phase of the process.
Congress has mandated that states participate in the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), a nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety. By joining together to issue the RFP, officials in Washington and Oregon said they’ll be able to make a more informed choice about the best option for building a network that serves the unique needs of the Northwest, especially in rural communities.
Govs. Jay Inslee and Kate Brown said they have not yet decided to opt out of participation with FirstNet.
“It is the intent of this RFP to explore options available to the state that will be most responsive to the needs of public-safety entities and which will be sustainable over the coming 25-year period,” said Inslee in a letter to Washington’s Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC). “I believe a regional solution with our partners in Oregon is one that should be explored.”
Issuing an RFP to solicit bids from other vendors is a critical piece of the due diligence that ensures the best service for first responders in the Northwest. Once proposals have been submitted, the states will weigh them against the merits of joining the FirstNet infrastructure.
Each state convened a state interoperability council to help develop strategies for enabling interoperable public-safety communications and play a central advisory role in evaluating the FirstNet proposal.
“Our interoperability council members have been hard at work on this effort for years, and I thank them for their invaluable expertise and feedback,” Brown said. “Our first responders are eager to move forward, and their ongoing feedback will be essential to making sure we make the best decision for our states.”
Inslee said he appreciates and values the work of the SIEC and looks forward to its review and recommendations on the final FirstNet state plan and any alternative plan.