About BayRICS, CalFRN and FirstNet
For more information about BayRICS, please contact:
Barry Fraser, General Manager
4985 Broder Blvd
Dublin, CA 94568
What Is BayRICS?
The Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System Joint Powers Authority (BayRICS) was established in August 2011 to oversee advanced public safety communications projects, such as FirstNet. Members of BayRICS include the City and County of San Francisco, City of Oakland, City of San Jose, Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and “hub” cities in the East Bay and South Bay. Each member jurisdiction has appointed a representative to the BayRICS Board of Directors.
The BayRICS General Manager is tasked with monitoring the progress of FirstNet, keeping members up-to-date on the status and timeline of network deployment, developing policies and procedures for regional governance, and providing recommendations to members regarding adoption and usage of FirstNet services when they become available.
What Is FirstNet? What is CalFRN?
In 2012, Congress created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) within the Department of Commerce. FirstNet is charged with creating a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety that will use “Long Term Evolution” (LTE) technology standards, similar to existing commercial broadband wireless networks. Public safety groups had pressed for legislation to build a nationwide network for several years in response to the 9/11 tragedy and subsequent 9/11 Commission Report that identified the critical need for a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for first responders.
FirstNet will work directly with the states to plan and build the nationwide network in each state. In California, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) heads up the planning and consultation effort with FirstNet. CalOES established the California First Responder Network (CalFRN), which provides oversight and coordination for FirstNet planning in the State. Captain Jeff Hunter, City of Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, and BayRICS GM Barry Fraser represent the Bay Area on the CalFRN Board.
Current Status and Timeline
Currently FirstNet is evaluating proposals from commercial partners to build the nationwide network. FirstNet issued an RFP in January 2016, which closed in May. FirstNet has indicated that it will award a contract as soon as November 2016. While FirstNet has not disclosed information about proposals or evaluation details, at least three entities have disclosed that they submitted proposals: AT&T, Rivada Mercury Group, and pdvWireless Group.
FirstNet will not to provide many specifics about the service until the commercial contract is awarded. Once the contract is in place we should begin to hear details about the proposed service, such as pricing, services offered, coverage areas and deployment schedules. These details may begin to filter out as soon as November or December 2016.
California State Plan Process
Once FirstNet awards a contract, its partner will work with FirstNet to develop a “State Plan” to deploy the service in each state, including California. Beginning in mid-2017, FirstNet should begin delivering draft state plans to the states. CalFRN will review the plan and make recommendations, but it will be critical for all agencies to pay attention to these draft plans and be prepared to provide feedback to the state.
After this review period, which may be very brief, FirstNet will deliver final state plans and the Governor will have 90 days to either “opt-in” to FirstNet’s plan or “opt out” and develop an alternative plan to build a network within the state. Opt-out would be very difficult, time-consuming and costly for the state. FirstNet has developed a Fact Sheet with more information on Key Factors for the Governor’s Decision, available at http://www.firstnet.gov/sites/default/files/factors-governor-decision.pdf.
FirstNet is a complex project with many moving parts, so many key elements of the network are not discussed here. If you have questions or need additional details, contact BayRICS GM Barry Fraser at info@BayRICS.net. In addition, the BayRICS web blog, http://www.bayrics.net/news-and-notes-blog, is a good source of up-to-date information and reports on FirstNet activities.