By James Mitchell, FirstNet Senior Program Manager for Operations
On April 27th, FirstNet released its Special Notice with Draft Request for Proposals (RFP) documents. With the release, we opened up the document for questions and comments, and solicited capabilities statements. FirstNet has made it a matter of policy that engagement with industry, the states and territories, the public safety community, and other market participants is key to the development of our RFP. It also reflects our ongoing commitment to transparency in our pursuit of a nationwide comprehensive network solution for public safety.
As of the deadline on May 27th, FirstNet had received 670 questions from 53 distinct entities - 44 from industry - on the Special Notice and draft RFP documents. This total includes more than 20 questions from the May 14th Industry Day. The questions we’ve received represent an investment on our stakeholders’ behalf, and – as I stated a couple weeks ago at the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) conference in San Diego – FirstNet is looking to return that investment in kind.
To that end, the RFP team at FirstNet has been working quickly toward a July 1 deadline to publish our responses to all of the 670 questions. In our first week, we posted 95 responses. This week, we posted another 187 responses, which will put us close to the halfway point. That’s a lot of work, but there’s still much more to do.
It’s important to note that the authors of the RFP are the ones answering these questions, and that’s by design. Each answer potentially represents a piece of what may go into the subsequent RFP. Moreover, we expect these answers to drive some of the comments and capabilities statements we will see coming in towards the end of July.
For the next few weeks, FirstNet will continue to post responses on a rolling basis, just like you’ve seen us do so far. We want to ensure that the information continues to flow back out to our stakeholders and that the momentum towards the RFP release later this year remains uninterrupted. It’s an exciting process to be a part of, and we thank you for your interest.