Rivada, Harris, Nationwide LTE Carrier Team Bids on FirstNet
Tuesday, June 07, 2016 | Comments
Although the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) isn’t releasing the number or names of bidders, Rivada Mercury, a newly formed company, announced it submitted a bid to build the nationwide public-safety broadband network. Rivada Networks leads Rivada Mercury, which also includes Harris, a nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) carrier and several rural carriers. Rivada Mercury officials declined to name the nationwide carrier partner.

FirstNet bids were due May 31, and a contract award is expected later this year.

In addition to Rivada and Harris, the other three founding partners include Nokia, Fujitsu Network Communications and Black & Veatch. Other named partners on the 24-member team include Ericsson and Intel Security. Ericsson has a partnership with Motorola Solutions for public-safety LTE and works with Motorola on several global projects.

Declan Ganley, co-CEO of Rivada, said all the major tower companies are partners with Rivada Mercury on a nonexclusive basis. The team also includes satellite deployable providers, rural carriers and other companies.

“The companies named represent the vast majority of the work involved,” Ganley said. “It was an extremely detailed proposal, and we wanted to make sure we covered all our bases.”

The team is financially backed with debt and equity structures from Wall Street, although Ganley declined to detail the funding. The management team includes Joseph Euteneuer as CEO and Dr. Dennis Martinez as chief technology officer (CTO). Euteneuer, formerly with Sprint, was named co-CEO and chief financial officer (CFO) Americas of Rivada Networks last month. Martinez is CTO for Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications and will work with both companies.

Harris, which provided its product offerings to other potential bidding teams, said it will provide four key things to Rivada Mercury on an exclusive basis: public-safety customer acquisition, customer care including establishing a nationwide network of call centers, and managing both the device and applications ecosystems with certification, training and testing.

“Our role is customer facing to the public-safety community,” Martinez said. “Public-safety agencies can buy devices direct from an OEM or from a service plan that we would offer.”

Ganley said the key differentiator from other FirstNet bidders for Rivada Mercury is Rivada’s Dynamic Spectrum Arbitrage (DSA) technology, which enables dynamic selling of excess critical-grade network capacity to commercial tenants without interfering with first responders’ broadband access. He calls the approach “carrier neutral” because no one carrier will control access to the spectrum.

Rivada’s DSA technology has not been submitted to the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) 700 MHz band 14 demonstration network. Martinez said the technology has been demonstrated “in the PSCR environment,” but is not part of the PSCR test bed. PSCR Engineering Supervisor Tracy McElvaney confirmed that the program is not evaluating spectrum sharing technologies.

Another unnamed partner is a spectrum exchange operator that will oversee the spectrum exchange, Ganley said. “Bandwidth as a commodity is traded, speculated on and allows access to a whole bunch of new players that we haven’t seen in the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) space,” he said. “We have a lot of demand out there that we’ve identified for capacity at certain times in certain locations that have unique uses and customers that want to buy bandwidth.”

Large media companies, logistics businesses, transportation companies, storage firms, utilities and other markets that need data-gathering platforms are all potential secondary spectrum users for the network, he said.

Ganley said the spectrum exchange and partner will operate in the background and won’t affect public safety, and the model will ensure the financial viability of the network.

“In our business model, secondary users will be tenants on the public-safety network, and their use is secondary,” Ganley said. “We are proposing a suite of local control capabilities. We’re building a public-safety network, and they’ll be served through different mechanisms. We think this is the model the law requests.”

In March, at least three state public-safety officials questioned Ganley about meetings with states where they said Rivada Networks executives encouraged state officials to opt out of FirstNet. Ganley denied that executives promoted opting out of FirstNet, saying the company has strong relationships with states and public-safety agencies. He cited the numerous former public-safety professionals affiliated with Rivada Networks.

“The relationships with states have been excellent, and we respond to the questions we receive from states,” he said. “Our relationship with states is second to none. They know what we’re about.”

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