Michigan may consider Rivada's bid alongside FirstNet

Firefighters training a hose on a fire
Michigan reportedly became the second state to name Rivada as a potential alternative to FirstNet.

Rivada Networks said it received the top score among three bidders to build Michigan’s statewide public safety broadband network. But that doesn’t at all mean it will beat out FirstNet for its first statewide win.

Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget recommended that the state analyze Rivada’s bid alongside FirstNet’s proposal “to determine the best value bid for the state,” the company said this morning in a release. Michigan is the second state to select a vendor for a potential alternative to FirstNet, Rivada said, following the lead of New Hampshire, which is also considering Rivada’s offering.

“We are honored that our alternative plan for public safety broadband in Michigan will have the chance to be placed side-by-side with the federal government’s offering,” said Declan Ganley, Rivada’s co-CEO, in the announcement. “By putting out this RFP (request for proposal), Michigan has given its governor a real choice, as envisioned in the legislation that created FirstNet.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce granted AT&T the right to build the nation’s first network dedicated to first responders three months ago. Rivada Networks, which lost the FirstNet contract to AT&T, said earlier this month that it continues to respond to states that issue RFPs seeking vendors willing to build and maintain a statewide public safety LTE radio access network (RAN) that would be interoperable with FirstNet’s offering.

States have a legal right to opt out of FirstNet’s service, and Rivada is positioning its offering as an alternative.

FirstNet last week revealed its initial individual state plans for the first nationwide dedicated wireless network for first responders, essentially starting the clock for states to decide whether they want to participate.

FirstNet said it has worked with states, territories, localities, federal authorities and the public safety community since 2013 to develop the plans, which were delivered three months ahead of schedule. States and territories can spend up to 45 days to review the plans, then have an opportunity to exchange feedback with FirstNet before a 90-day window opens for them to opt in or out of FirstNet.

“This is the only way to ensure that (governors are) getting the best possible network for his or her state’s first responders,” Ganley continued. “We look forward to the opportunity to have our plan compared directly to FirstNet’s.”

FirstNet officials remain confident that states will find their proposal more compelling that any other potential networks, however. “There’s tremendous value to opting in—I will be very surprised if we have any states that will be opting out,” AT&T Senior Vice President Chris Sambar said recently, according to Politico.