Regional Carriers Slighted by FirstNet

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FirstNet made the decision to invite companies that can handle a nationwide rollout to the RFP coming out this year. The playing field for bidders just got a whole lot smaller. Did FirstNet hurt FirstNet by doing this? Did they severely limit competition? Hey little guy, better kiss up to the turf vendors, again. That is unless Verizon or AT&T will take this on, but why would they? They don’t need the spectrum and they probably have huge contracts with emergency services already, but let me get back to the point.

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Did FirstNet screw over the regional carriers by going nationwide only? Should the CCA, Competitive Carriers Association,, feel slighted? While they would never publicly admit it, I think that they already do, the CCA already dog-tags_clearbackgrondfeels a little down because the FCC isn’t going to help the smaller carriers out in the auction. They have a lot going against them. They need to rely on leasing the larger carriers for spectrum, so they probably feel like they are under the big boys’ thumbs with no help from the FCC. And now FirstNet.

Now I know that FirstNet had the conference stating that they want to partner with the regional and rural carriers, might be tough for deployment with a large contractor between FirstNet and the regional carrier!

The way I see it, this decision has taken away, correction, made it impossible for them to take lead roles in the roll out. Do you think it’s justified? There are 2 lines of thinking that are for and against FirstNet.

Against FirstNet. Here you have a group that is willing to work for spectrum but FirstNet implied that they don’t want to deal with small potatoes. They want to go big or go home. Drawbacks? FirstNet will wonder why the really rural areas are not getting built. Tower_20Worker_20Logbook_20Cover_20Final_203I see that as a problem, like getting Alaska built. They have a commitment to cover 95% of the landmass. I don’t believe that AT&T nor Verizon do much of that on their own. They need partners, the CCA members that are willing to cover those rural areas that the big boys don’t deem profitable. I get it, they need to make money, but the CCA is doing all that they can to provide coverage where there is none, kudos to the CCA.

The other problem I see is that FirstNet just raised the price of the system. They just said that because they don’t have the resources to manage the full build that they are willing to pay a large contractor to do it for them. This eats at margin on margin on margin. Once again, the installer is at the bottom of the food chain. What else is new?

The pros for FirstNet are that they don’t have to manage the build, they don’t need to hire too much staff to manage this. They limit their risk by putting it all on the company that is willing to take it on. They have one throat to choke. If they are really lucky that could partner with AT&T or Verizon to handle all of this for them. I get it, I SOW_20Training_20Coversee a huge upside by paying one contractor to do it all. It makes a lot of sense to me. So I am not one-sided on this. FirstNet has a daunting task, on that the federal government took away from the states. (The states probably would have something built by now, just saying.) So I see where FirstNet is at, this is the most efficient way to use their resources, just like when the government used one contractor over in Iraq, Halliburton, how did that work out?

Don’t get me wrong, the smaller carriers will be involved. They are needed to make this happen, in my opinion, because they have the coverage, the sites, the knowhow, and the experience to deploy in rural areas. I would want them on my side for wireless deployment. They are the key to construction in rural areas. Here is what I see as an invaluable partner, companies that are in the trenches to make the world of communications better in regions that the big boys intentionally overlook in favor of larger profits.

Rural areas are what FirstNet is required to cover, eventually, but they need to turn a profit first, just like the carriers. So do the big boys see them as competition? Do they see money going out the door if FirstNet is a success? Will they lose all that public safety money if FirstNet takes off? FirstNet’s plan hinges on them signing Cover V7 LTEup public safety groups around the US, then the utilities. What if it works and the groups start signing up? Why would they keep their big boy contracts? Why pay twice? Maybe the big boys see the threat of all those government agencies that relied on them for reliable coverage moving to FirstNet. What if they start leaving those 2 year contracts in favor of a system that is built for emergencies? I see that happening, if the system works, maybe in 2020. Why pay the carriers who have a system that gets overloaded in an emergency for one that is guaranteed to work in an emergency. Good bye crappy contracts and hello integrated public safety system. Is all that government money leaving the carriers, at least the big ones, for a newer system that focuses on public safety?

This is where the CCA and their members are invaluable. They could have used the spectrum and partnered with FirstNet to make the best system out there. They could have seen the opportunity to make it happen together in the areas that are very hard to cover. They could have brought their experience to the table. I see the CCA as a great partner, it’s a shame that FirstNet did not do more to work with them. I think that the experience that the CCA brings to the table is invaluable.

Will the big boy carriers take on the challenge of assisting FirstNet? I can’t wait to see but I think FirstNet should have seen more value in the CCA, that’s all I am saying. This is a daunting task, one that will take time, money, and patience. One that will have a lasting effect on the wireless industry because it will be taking money off the table for the carriers if they don’t work with FirstNet and then keep it in the government’s financial system. It is one that will spark growth in the wireless deployment industry for years to come! Deploy, deploy, deploy! Let’s get building! Well, I guess in 2017 we may get building, sorry, I got ahead of myself.

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