Rivada makes new attempt to win US first responder business

Rivada makes new attempt to win US first responder business

Rivada Mercury has made the first move to be approved to sell emergency services networks to individual US states – LTE networks that would then be tied into the nationwide FirstNet service.

AT&T has already won the Federal contract from the Department of Commerce to build and run FirstNet for 25 years for payment of $47.5 billion.

Rivada, which was excluded from consideration for the Federal deal, wants to bid for contracts from states, but needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) first.

A Rivada spokesman told Capacity: “The FCC must approve an opt-out state’s plan. The FCC is drafting rules to govern that approval process.”

Rivada has submitted a long document to the FCC via its lawyers on its proposals – which include making efficient use of spectrum that would be available on a wholesale basis to commercial wireless operators when not needed for emergency services.

“When some states operate and control their own state networks, and necessarily interoperate with FirstNet, those states may adopt and incorporate new technologies and capabilities ahead of FirstNet,” Rivada says in its submission. 

Behind the letter, sent to Marlene Dortch at the FCC, is a fear that the rules may exclude Rivada from the bidding. A company spokesman told Capacity: “AT&T and FirstNet are trying to use those rules to erect artificial obstacles to opting out. We are encouraging the FCC to be the fair and neutral arbiter that the law requires.”

The letter is signed my Declan Ganley, chairman and co-CEO of Rivada, and Joseph Euteneuer, former CFO of Sprint who is also co-CEO. “In mandating a single, national network architecture, however, the Act [setting up FirstNet] nowhere mandates that FirstNet control all traffic handled by that network,” they write. 

They add: “States operating their own radio access networks can also use different means of sharing spectrum with commercial users, always subject to the principle that public safety traffic has absolute priority and can pre-empt other traffic – what Rivada calls “ruthless pre-emption.”

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