How to Create the Ideal
Request for Proposal (“RFP”)
for Your Wireless Solution
As 4G technology takes hold across the country, university and college campuses, corporate headquarters, stadiums, arenas, special event venues, mall owners and commercial landlords, to name a few, are looking toward enhancing the wireless access available in their respective communities and buildings. We are also seeing a trend of jurisdictions, municipalities, water districts and counties alike, (Louisiana juris?) that are looking toward leveraging their real property assets to increase the revenue in their annual budgets. Without an expert on wireless leasing and technology on staff, many of these entities are left to their own devises to determine how to effectively create and execute a wireless infrastructure plan.
From time to time we are retained to comment on wireless RFPs or RFQs, sometimes even after such requests have been distributed. What we are finding is that many times the wireless RFPs and RFQs are not asking the right questions or are missing the requisite information to receive an accurate response to the wireless RFP or RFQ (“Request for Quotation”). So while the Landlord is receiving a response, the responses make or overlook many assumptions which can lead to poor execution, cost overruns or worse, and loss of strategic advantage in maintaining control of the primary underlying asset.
In creating a wireless RFP or RFQ for a wireless solution, there are business, legal and technological questions which must be answered internally. The first question which must be answered is what is the overall primary goal? Who is the target customer? Will it increase the student's experience on campus? Or will it improve your anchor tenant's communications with its employees? What service provider do you use and are your coverage objectives being met? Do you have an older building with a closed floor plan where wireless signals do not penetrate as effectively as they do in an open floor plan? These questions and many others are just the tip of the iceberg in starting down the wireless RFP or RFQ process.
It is wise to identify the gaps in coverage or the special needs before deciding the available technological solutions. We sometimes find that wireless RFPs do not identify specific solutions, but instead leave the solution to the respondent which may not lead to the best solution available. Do you need a DAS (distributed antenna system) or a small cell or an amplifier? What cell sites are near the location and can they be enhanced to improve your coverage?
Once you have a more informed understanding of your technological needs and possible solutions, you can work with an expert familiar with similar wireless RFPs or RFQs to learn the fair market value of the various solutions. How do you maximize the return on investment for the various solutions? Who pays for the installation? Who maintains the system? Is there a fair market value license fee for such a solution, i.e. what is it worth to the carriers to have access to their subscribers on your campus or in your building? Knowing the answers to these questions prior to finalizing your wireless RFP or RFQ can be invaluable and ensure that you are not missing revenue opportunities.
After gaining an improved understanding of the technology and business terms that you should expect from a respondent to a wireless RFP or RFQ, the final piece to creating a comprehensive wireless RFP or RFQ is an understanding of what rights you want to retain and what liabilities and obligations you want to shift. If the wireless solution is on your rooftop, what happens when the roof begins to leak or is beyond its useful life? Who will be responsible for the cell site going off air? What is the response time to respond to a site that is down? What are the implications for your students or tenants if service is interrupted? And how do you minimize your liability for having the wireless solution on your property? Who is responsible for code compliance? What if the wireless installation triggers an ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) upgrade to the property costing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars? These are just a few of the many legal questions that property owners must navigate when creating a comprehensive wireless RFP or RFQ.
By creating a clear road map of the wireless RFP or RFQ process, you will more fully understand your goals and be able to communicate such goals in a concise fashion in the wireless RFP or RFQ. You will also be able to tailor the questions to your property and you will be able to differentiate between a qualified and serious response to your wireless RFP or RFQ and responses from those that are merely fishing for business, but not truly qualified to meet your objectives or execute your wireless solution.
We work closely with experts in wireless technology to assist in advising clients on how to create comprehensive and effective wireless RFPs and RFQs. If you are considering a wireless DAS or small cell solution for your university or college campus, corporate headquarters, stadium, arena, mall or other commercial building, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1–877–925–3778. We are happy to work with you to create a wireless RFP or RFQ that meets your objectives and satisfies your goals.