March 29, 2017–LAS VEGAS – First Responder Network Authority President TJ Kennedy today took a victory lap by recounting all the efforts that led to tomorrow’s award of a contract to a network partner, and delivered a pep talk to the public safety community concerning the tough work still ahead to realize the deployment and operation of a nationwide public safety broadband network.
The Commerce Department today announced that the 25-year contract award – it did not mention the partner, AT&T, Inc., by name – will be announced at an event at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the agency’s headquarters. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross is scheduled to make the announcement. The Commerce venue was chosen after efforts to arrange an announcement with President Trump at the White House this week were not successful.
“This network happened because of each and every one of you,” Mr. Kennedy said in a keynote speech this morning at the IWCE show here. “We all stuck together and spoke with one voice, and we need to continue to do that.” He asked attendees to stand up and raise their right hands and vow to pledge to continue to work toward making the network a reality.
FirstNet released a draft request for proposals nearly two years ago (TRDaily, April 27, 2015), and it issued the final RFP in January 2016 (TRDaily, Jan. 13, 2016). “We have been moving at record speed when it comes to what needs to occur,” Mr. Kennedy said. “But most importantly, we also have not cut corners, we have not taken the easy way out. To me, that’s the most rewarding part, because the journey is not over. There’s an amazing amount of work that’s going to occur. The next six to 12 months – I cannot tell you what’s already on the agenda.”
Mr. Kennedy said that final state plans will be delivered “in less than six months,” core network deployments will be seen in the next six to 12 months, and radio access network build-out will occur in the next 12 months.“It is going to be a huge once-in-a-lifetime difference,” Mr. Kennedy said of the network. “I think it will be revolutionary. I think we will change the way that we respond to public safety incidents.”
Mr. Kennedy said that FirstNet plans to reach out to state single points of contact (SPOCs) and its Public Safety Advisory Committee within days to discuss the award and upcoming actions, and that it will move ahead to prepare draft and final state plans and proceed to “the task orders related to the core network.” He told TRDaily after his speech that FirstNet has teams to work on each task order, and noted that the teams will meet its partner, which he did not mention by name.
Mr. Kennedy said he doesn’t believe the contract with its partner will be released publicly. “The reality is this was a huge group effort, and it will continue to be that way,” he said during his speech. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org