Rural Carriers Continue to Assess FirstNet’s DecisionComments Off on Rural Carriers Continue to Assess FirstNet’s Decision
Last week, FirstNet approved a resolution to accept only national deployment offers for its final request for proposal (RFP), removing the possibility that a bidder could be selected to build the network for a single state or region. Urgent Communications reported that carriers are still digesting this information and are deciding how best to proceed. At last week’s CCA Annual Convention, there was a session titled “What can the FCC do to promote competition?” Urgent Communications reported that speakers representing the interests of carriers other than AT&T and Verizon discussed the implication of the decision.
“There’s some frustration amongst CCA members with the announcement last week to go with a nationwide procurement strategy, but I think it’s helpful that FirstNet clarified that—in evaluating offerers’ responses to the RFP—one of the categories is how they’re going to partner with rural carriers and how they’re going to build out rural service,” Tim Donovan, CCA’s vice president of legislative affairs, said. “So I do think there is still a very important role for CCA members—with existing infrastructure, relationships and right of way in these rural areas—to be part of the FirstNet process. Without that participation and partnership, it’s not very likely that we’ll have an operational FirstNet network in some of these very rural areas any time soon” (Urgent Communications).
Donovan also encouraged rural carriers to pursue partnerships with the carriers who may bid on building out FirstNet’s network. The carrier chosen will still partner with a number of rural carriers. Working with FirstNet could also provide rural carriers with the opportunity to build more sites on federally owned land. While FirstNet’s decision was surprising to many carriers, there will still be a lot of opportunity to work on the project.