Advertisement

The U.S. Court of Appeals of Federal Claims on Friday swatted down a lawsuit from Rivada Mercury lodged in November alleging FirstNet wrongly excluded its bid from the “competitive range.”

In a statement CEO Mike Poth said FirstNet is “pleased” with the decision.

“This is a positive development for FirstNet and the public safety community,” Poth said. “FirstNet intends to move expeditiously to finalize the contract for the nationwide public safety broadband network.”

The ruling all but confirms that U.S. wireless carrier AT&T will win the network buildout contract. The carrier in an 8K form filed with the SEC in December indicated it believed – with the presumed elimination of Rivada Mercury – that no other competitors were left standing.

“Based on Rivada's court filing and pdvWireless' public statements, AT&T is not aware of any other bidders who remain within the ‘competitive range’ of the First Responder Network procurement,” AT&T wrote at the time. “Should AT&T's bid be accepted, we look forward to serving the public safety community through this contract and making a significant investment in the infrastructure of our country.”

The contract would give AT&T access to 20 MHz of paired 700 MHz. But while those airwaves would first and foremost serve the needs of public safety users, Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche noted in December “barring a national emergency, we estimate the spectrum will be less than 1 percent consumed by public safety uses.” That means AT&T will have access to a good chunk of incremental spectrum that can be combined with its 20 MHz of AWS-3 and 20 MHz of WCS spectrum to form a 60 MHz reserve.

New Street Research in December also estimated 20 MHz of low band in the current spectrum auction would cost between $8 billion and $9 billion, and said “if AT&T wins the award for anything less than this, we would view the outcome positively.”

More on what an AT&T FirstNet win could mean for tower companies can be found here.

Advertisement
Advertisement