With no appeals filed, FairPoint secures job to upgrade state’s 911 system

Posted Dec. 06, 2012, at 8:23 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 07, 2012, at 5:40 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The $32 million job of upgrading Maine’s emergency 911 system and replacing it with an upgraded, Internet-based system that can accept emergency calls from a range of devices will fall to FairPoint Communications.

The North Carolina company, which operates the state’s current 911 system, was awarded the job last month shortly before Thanksgiving. The period for losing bidders to appeal the award expired Wednesday with no appeals filed.

That means FairPoint and the Maine Public Utilities Commission can move ahead with installing a so-called NextGen 911 system that allows emergency dispatchers to accept and pinpoint the location of emergency notifications that come by phone, text message, notification services such as OnStar, and other devices.

The award to FairPoint ends a yearlong process for the PUC, which awarded FairPoint the job twice earlier this year only to have both of those awards appealed by losing bidders and overturned. The commission sought to have the upgraded 911 system in place by August 2013, but Chairman Thomas Welch said last month that the multiple successful appeals have delayed the project by a year.

The state’s contract with FairPoint for the current 911 system expires in October 2013.

After the most recent award was overturned last month following an appeal, the commission rescored the existing bids and, within 11 days, again scored FairPoint’s bid the highest.

“FairPoint will provide a fully integrated turnkey solution that will not only link voice, data and video elements to E911 call facilities, but will transfer data seamlessly, and it will provide the capability to read text messages and view video when the industry standards are developed,” Karen Romano, FairPoint’s vice president for government, education and research, said in a statement.

The PUC issued a request for proposals last year for a NextGen 911 system. Nine companies responded, and the commission settled on FairPoint in January.

Two of the losing bidders, Colorado-based Intrado and Lewiston-based Oxford Networks, appealed the award and a state appeals panel overturned it, concluding there were irregularities in the scoring process and violations of Maine bidding law.

The PUC then convened a new review team, rescored the nine existing bids and again awarded FairPoint the contract in June. FairPoint bid $32.4 million for the project while Intrado bid $27.8 million and Oxford bid $24.9 million.

Intrado and Oxford successfully appealed the June award as well. After that award was overturned, the PUC again rescored the existing bids and awarded FairPoint the job.

Spokeswomen for Intrado and Oxford didn’t immediately comment Thursday regarding the companies’ decisions against appealing the most recent FairPoint award.

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