FirstNet releases 10 RFIs, prepares for state meetings

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) released 10 requests for information (RFIs) to the planned nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).

The RFIs concern the radio access network (RAN) and core network. Questions from respondents are due July 22 and responses are due Aug. 30, 2013.

"These RFIs will enable FirstNet to gather input from equipment manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders on possible models and partnership and technology platforms," said Bill D'Agostino, FirstNet general manager. "We need to hear about innovative, cost-effective solutions for delivering the coverage, capacity, connectivity, cybersecurity and resiliency that a high-speed network dedicated to public safety demands."

The NPSBN will be an LTE-based network operating in 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum. FirstNet previously issued a device RFI on April 15.

The first RAN-related RFI involves the largest potential expenditures by FirstNet and seeks information about ways to deploy the RAN and core network. Four additional RFIs on RAN components address antenna systems, microwave backhaul, deployables and satellite services.

Five RFIs on core network issues solicit input on an enhanced packet core (EPC), transmission and transport, data center services, network management and operations centers and a network service platform.

After FirstNet receives and analyzes responses to the RFIs, it will develop and issue requests for proposal (RFPs).

Meanwhile, having wrapped up six scheduled regional meetings during May and June, FirstNet is closer to embarking on consultations with individual states and territories. As soon as late summer, FirstNet could be ready to meet with leaders from certain states that have conducted significant public-safety communications planning and research over the past few years, FirstNet board member Jeff Johnson told Urgent Communications.

FirstNet officials will need to first determine exactly what information the authority needs from the states to proceed, a process expected to begin next week. "The regional meetings were intended to establish the record, to create a dialog and to listen to the states," Johnson said.

Johnson cautioned, however, that FirstNet is still far from having all the answers the states are likely to want regarding the NPSBN, particularly in response to questions concerning the planned network design. He said information gleaned from the states will be poured into the ultimate network design, and he emphasized that FirstNet is still in a data-collection phase.

For more:
- see this FirstNet release
- see this Urgent Communications article

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