Oregon, Washington to Issue RFP for Public Safety Network

The states expect to release their RFP within two weeks, or by around Oct. 11, and close it approximately five weeks later. There will then be a period of evaluation and possible selection of one or more vendors to advance to the next phase of the process.

The governors of Oregon and Washington announced their states will jointly issue a request for proposals to operate a high-speed, wireless broadband data network dedicated to public safety. This network won't replace existing public safety radio networks but will be another tool to ensure first responders can communicate in times of disasters that may overwhelm existing networks, and the two governors, Oregon's Kate Brown and Washington's Jay Inslee, said Sept. 27 they have not yet decided to opt out participation in FirstNet, a nationwide broadband network that Congress requires states to join.

More than $6 billion has been allocated to build FirstNet, but states have the option to opt out and build their own infrastructure. In a letter to Washington's Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee, Inslee wrote, "It is the intent of this RFP to explore options available to the state that will be most responsive to the needs of public safety entities and which will be sustainable over the coming 25-year period. I believe a regional solution with our partners in Oregon is one that should be explored."

The governors say their states will be able to make a more informed choice about the best option for building a network that serves the unique needs of the Northwest, especially in rural communities.

The states expect to release their RFP within two weeks, or by around Oct. 11, and close it approximately five weeks later. There will then be a period of evaluation and possible selection of one or more vendors to advance to the next phase of the process.

"Our interoperability council members have been hard at work on this effort for years, and I thank them for their invaluable expertise and feedback," Brown said. "Our first responders are eager to move forward, and their ongoing feedback will be essential to making sure we make the best decision for our states."

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