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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Is AT&T days way from $6.5B payday?

AT&T may be just a few days away from learning whether it is the winner of the $6.5 billion First Net contract to build a nationwide first responder network.

Or it’ll learn that the competition is restarting for the huge project. Or something in between.

Everything rests with the Court of Federal Claims. Final oral arguments on a pre-award protest were heard on March 3 and the decision is due from the court in a matter of days, according to the chief counsel for the First Responder Network Authority. The authority is the organization inside the Commerce Department that is managing the multi-billion dollar effort.

Jason Karp, the authority’s chief counsel, told the organizations board that “all steps are completed. It is with the court,” according to an FCW.com story.

The bid protest was filed by Rivada Mecury, a joint venture formed to bid on the project. They filed their lawsuit after being told they were no longer in the competitive range. Rivada consists of Harris, Fujitsu, Nokia, Black & Veatch, Ericcson, Rivada Networks and Intel.

Another company, pdv Wireless, also was told they were not in the competitive range, but they have not filed a protest.

With those two companies out of the competition that leaves only AT&T under consideration, according to an AT&T filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

During the FirstNet authority board meeting, the organization said it is ready to move quickly if the court rules against Rivada.

“We’re manically focused on being ready,” said Firstnet Chairman Susan Swenson.

FCW also reported that FirstNet is a priority for the Trump administration and new Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross. He talked about it as one of his leading goals when he addressed employees March 1.

The contract would be a huge win for AT&T but also a major undertaking, involving 50 states and six U.S. territories. The company will lead the effort to build a nationwide LTE network just for first responders and offer interoperable connectivity to public safety officials.

Congress mandated the network in the years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The $6.5 billion price tag is just seen as seed money. Some estimate that it might cost $47 billion to build with vendors recouping costs by leasing bandwidth to other users.

If the court rules in favor of Rivada, that likely means the solicitation will need to be revamped and proposals will need to be re-written and submitted again for evaluation.

So FirstNet is either going to happen real soon or it’s gonna be a while.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:43 PM


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