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FirstNet Legal Battle Ends, Buildout Could Begin as Early as June

In the Friday judgment, Judge Elaine Kaplan ruled in favor of the First Responder Network Authority, granting it the ability to move forward with the procurement process.

The lawsuit filed against the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) by RFP bidder Rivada Mercury — a partnership between several companies — received an unfavorable ruling in federal court March 17.

As Government Technology previously reported, the legal stalemate between the ousted bidder and the FirstNet authority significantly delayed the award for the 25-year contract by several months in December 2016. At the time, FirstNet officials said many of the moving parts necessary for project success were in place and ready.

“We have the rigor in place. We are an up-and-running organization just as Congress intended,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said at the organization’s quarterly meeting held Dec. 14. “We are here and it’s done, and we are ready.”

The larger case centered on a bidding dispute filed by Rivada Mercury, the collective made up of Fujitsu, Nokia, Harris, and Black and Veatch, against the FirstNet Responders Network Authority, which is overseeing the $6.5 billion contract for the national FirstNet public safety network. 

In the Friday judgment, Judge Elaine Kaplan ruled in favor of the network authority, granting it the ability to move forward with the procurement process. 

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision. This is a positive development for FirstNet and the public safety community. FirstNet intends to move expeditiously to finalize the contract for the nationwide public safety broadband network,” Poth said in a statement.

The complaint lodged by Rivada Mercury focused on how bids on the national RFP were evaluated and eliminated, after the company alleged it was unfairly eliminated from the process and should be allowed to have its bid reconsidered by the FirstNet Authority. 

According to a report from IWCE’s Urgent Communications, the division charged with leading the bidding efforts, Rivada Networks, plans on pursuing state radio access network (RAN) contracts moving forward.

“We regret the decision, but it won't stop us from offering our superior solution to the states,” Rivada Networks co-CEO Declan Ganley said in a statement provided to the publication.

In a tweet, Rivada Networks said the partnership would be considering an appeal and focusing efforts on state contracts.

Rivada U.S. Court of Fed Claims motion denied. Considering appeal & are ramping up with States that want option to exercise opt-out right. — RivadaNetworks (@RivadaNetworks) March 17, 2017
With a ruling on the books, many reports seem to favor project bidder AT&T as the awardee, barring any further legal action. Should FirstNet award the company, which joined the Department of Justice on behalf of FirstNet during the court proceedings, the buildout could begin as early as June.

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at