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Final set of answers to FirstNet RFP questions addresses pricing, opt-out network performance

| Urgent Communications

Mar 21, 2016

Public-safety users of FirstNet will receive “most favored customer” pricing and have a uniform customer experience throughout the system, including areas served by opt-out state networks, according to the final set of answers to written questions submitted to FirstNet about its request for proposal.

With the release of the final group of answers on Wednesday, all 402 questions submitted about the FirstNet RFP by the Feb. 12 deadline have received responses. Multiple changes to the RFP were made as a result of this group of questions, but most of them were administrative in nature, addressing issues such as page counts for proposals, the timing of payment stages, auditing responsibilities, invoice details and data-storage policies.

But answers to other questions address key aspects of the FirstNet proposal, even though they did not result in changes to the RFP.

How much public-safety users will pay for service on the FirstNet system has been a topic of keen interest throughout the industry. In a couple of answers, more details about the “most favored customer pricing” policy for use on the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) are provided.

“Public Safety Entities would pay the lowest price offered by the Contractor for broadband LTE services on Band 14 or other bands,” according to one answer. “This does not preclude Offerors from incentivizing adoption through discounting commercially available services or subsidized specialized services for public-safety customers.

“The comparison between prices for services offered to Public Safety Entities and other customers will depend on the Contractor’s proposal and other service offerings. Offerors are free to propose the specifics of the most-favored-customer pricing arrangements.”

FirstNet conducted two proceedings in which the organization sought input about which entities meet the qualifications of a “public-safety entity” that can be prioritized on the FirstNet system and receive the most-favored-customer pricing. But in the RFP, FirstNet does not designate which organizations meet the “public-safety entity” qualification. Police, fire and EMS personnel are classified as being in the “primary user group,” but the FirstNet contractor will be asked to determine who should be included in the “extended primary user group.”

Another answer clarifies that public-safety entities would be able to purchase deployable assets for the network.

Meanwhile, one answer reiterates the FirstNet philosophy that a uniform level of service should be provided throughout the nation, even if a portion of the network is provided by a separate contractor in a state that has chosen the opt-out alternative and builds its own radio access network (RAN).

“FirstNet would like to emphasize … that the NPSBN experience for public safety users must be the same throughout the entire network, even in those states or territories that choose to take responsibility for building their own RAN,” an answer states.

On the liability front, another question notes that a portion of the RFP “obligates the awardee to indemnify the government claims arising ‘in whole or in part” from awardee’s actions and omissions” and asks that it be changed, so that the contractor only would have to “cover claims to the extent they arise or result from the acts or omissions of the awardee.” This request was declined.

“The management of the NPSBN will be undertaken by the Contractor,” the answer states. “FirstNet anticipates that each Offeror will develop a business case that appropriately manages its risk in a manner that is consistent with today’s commercial mobile radio services (CMRS) networks, including the use of end-user terms and conditions that contain appropriate liability protections and disclaimers.”


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