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O N L I N E  E X C L U S I V E

Public-Safety Broadband Waiver Recipients Move Forward with Contracts, Funding

February 15, 2012

 
 
At least two requests for proposals (RFPs) for public-safety broadband networks are pending contract awards, according to quarterly filings with the FCC and industry sources. Los Angeles and Pembroke Pines, Fla., have gathered public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) bids and are reviewing proposals.
 
New Mexico should release an RFP for LTE by the end of March, said industry officials. The microwave portion of the state's public-safety network is under construction by several vendors. The state of New Jersey is reworking its RFP, said industry sources.
 
Los Angeles received Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grants in 2010. New Jersey received a $39.6 million award to build a network in the northern part of the state. New Mexico received a $38.7 million award to build a network in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) funding timeline for the BTOP funds runs through August 2013.
 
The Los Angeles Regional Interoperability Communications Systems (LA-RICS) authority received two proposals, from Motorola Solutions and Raytheon, after restarting its procurement process last year. The authority plans to conclude the proposal review in March, followed by contract negotiations, the authority’s filing said.
 
The total estimated cost to build and implement LASafety-Net is $218 million. The authority has obligated $154.6 million in BTOP grant funds to design, build and deploy LASafety-Net.
 
In addition to New Jersey, New Mexico and Los Angeles, four more agencies won BTOP grants from NTIA in 2010 for public-safety broadband networks and have already awarded contracts for their networks. The Bay Area Urban Areas Securities Initiative (UASI) and state of Mississippi both have contracts with Motorola Solutions. The city of Charlotte, N.C. awarded a contract to Alcatel-Lucent for its LTE network. Charlotte also recently released a competitive procurement for end-user device products. Adams County, Colo., selected Raytheon for its network buildout. All four agencies with vendor contracts are in the process of building sites, completing system designs, and procuring and deploying equipment. For example, Charlotte said as of Dec. 31, about 80 percent of its microwave design was complete; network high-level designs were about 75 percent complete.
 
Of the remaining 15 agencies that received waivers but don’t have federal grant money for their 700 MHz wireless broadband network, several have found funding solutions.  Pembroke Pines expects to pursue a hosted core solution to minimize the required capital outlay for full deployment of its network.
 
“The city anticipates having sufficient funding available to begin a pilot/first phase deployment of the 700 MHz wireless broadband network from monies allocated for its 2.5 GHz network,” the city said in its quarterly report. “Additional buildout expenses will come from avoided costs, (for example by using a hosted core), vendor contributions and contributions from allied municipal interests, (the state of Florida, Broward County Sheriff and surrounding communities).”
 
Pembroke Pines published a request for proposals in October and received five proposals, which are being reviewed. “We have submitted a request to the state of Florida requesting their support and assistance in expanding the city’s Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) lease to include all of Broward County,” the filing said. “The logic behind this request is simply to achieve an economy of scale that is not otherwise easily achievable within the 35 square miles and more than 200 users in the city of Pembroke Pines.”
 
The state of Texas also has a 700 MHz public-safety broadband waiver. Harris County and the city of Irving, Texas, both contracted Motorola Solutions for their networks. The Irving project is funded through bonds. The initial Harris County LTE system deployment is being funded through a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fiscal year (FY) 2006 Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) award of $7.6 million. Harris County applied for an additional $6.4 million in PSGP funding, which requires that the funding be spent by May 31. The funding will be used for eNodeB installation and integrations, video security system and maintenance, and enhanced information sharing. In addition, the grant includes additional eNodeB equipment, planned to be put into service later in 2012, the Texas filing said.
 
The San Antonio UASI said it is reviewing funding available for a smaller project than initially planned. The SAUASI can participate in many vendor non-specific and vendor-specific contracts. These contracts, including Houston-Galveston Area Council Cooperative Purchasing Program (HGACC) and Texas Department of Information Resources Cooperative Contracts (DIR), cover 700 MHz equipment and services and are available for use.
 
“The SAUASI project team has engaged two available vendors,” the San Antonio filing said. “The vendors have submitted proposed pilot programs for review.”
 
The state of Iowa released an RFI in 2011, and the state is evaluating responses. The city of Seattle issued an RFI in December; responses were due last week. The city of Chesapeake, Va., said it plans to release an RFI shortly. The city has $1.95 million set aside for the project.
 
Other jurisdictions, including the state and city of New York; the city of Boston; and Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties in Wisconsin, are in various stages of planning RFIs and RFPs, gathering funding and hiring consulting services.
 
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