First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth today stressed the importance of the network’s service being affordable for public safety agencies. “There is no mandate that public safety use this network,” Mr. Poth noted during remarks at a Media Institute luncheon. “AT&T has to build this new, proverbial better mouse trap, and it has to be cost-effective, and it has to solve the problems that public safety has identified.”
He also said it is key to offer the right technology to younger first responders. “They all grew up with cellphones and technology so they have a high expectation,” he said. “So if it doesn’t work, they’re going to be very skeptical, and they’re just going to park it off to the side. So we only got really one shot to make sure that they see the value prop is compelling.”
He said that when FirstNet was in the planning stages of preparing a request for proposals (RFP), he had the staff run more than 200 business models to see how a private-sector partner would be able to realize a return on investment. “In order for this to work, we need the private sector to be successful,” he emphasized. “Quite frankly, we weren’t sure anyone was going to bid because it’s a pretty arduous task.”
AT&T, Inc., has a 25-year contract with FirstNet to build and maintain the nationwide public safety broadband network.
Mr. Poth also noted that each of the initial five phases of the deployment of the network must have a rural component. “But is it going to cover every square inch, every square mile? No.” He said that deployable assets are designed to help make up that gap.
Mr. Poth was also asked if FirstNet plans to hire a new president to replace TJ Kennedy, who left FirstNet in December. “Right now, I’m not planning to fill that spot,” he replied. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org