AT&T tipped to win 25-year US emergency network deal

AT&T tipped to win 25-year US emergency network deal

Overnight reports from the US suggest that AT&T will win a multi-billion dollar contract to build a nationwide first-responder network that will also provide the company with 20MHz of mobile spectrum.

If true, the news means that a proposal from rival company Rivada Mercury has lost its bid to build a wholesale LTE system that would have operated as an emergency services network.

Capacity has contacted AT&T for comment as well as Declan Ganley, the CEO of Rivada Networks, which last month lost its bid to build a wholesale mobile network, Red Compartida, in Mexico. Ganley replied via Twitter: "Too much read into it. Any award months away. Early days, there's a process & lots going on."

AT&T and Rivada Mercury, a subsidiary of Rivada Networks, were the only remaining companies known to be contending for the contract. It remains possible that other companies have bid but have not announced their bids. 

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) – the US government body charged with awarding the contract – is reported by specialist media to have eliminated Rivada Mercury from the bidding, leaving only AT&T. FirstNet has not commented on the reports.

However Rivada Networks spokesman Brian Carney told one specialist publication: “We are contesting that decision to get put back into the competitive range. We don’t think a competitive range of one is very competitive, nor is it in the interest of public safety, taxpayers or the government.”

FirstNet’s board has already allocated a budget of $6.58 billion for the first financial year of operation. The whole contract is due to run 25 years, once awarded to the winning party.

If AT&T does win the contract the decision is likely to give the company substantial spectrum that it can use for other mobile services, so long as they can be reallocated to emergency services when and where needed.

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