FirstNet Outlines New Operational Strategy at Board Meeting
Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Comments

The acting CEO of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) laid out a new strategy for the organization through 2022 as it moves further into operational mode and the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) gains subscribers and coverage.

During the December FirstNet board meeting, Ed Parkinson said the organization must be a catalyst for advancing the NPSBN with a vision to create a dedicated and differentiated broadband communications experience that transforms public-safety operations to save lives.

“We have to be adaptable, so we’re answering the challenges that public safety faces every day,” Parkinson said.

Jeremy Zollo, FirstNet director, enterprise strategy division, said the strategy will see FirstNet become more metrics based to validate that FirstNet is meeting the needs of public safety.

The five strategy objectives are positive sentiment, successful partnership performance, recognized differentiation, FirstNet enablement and organizational effectiveness.

To meet those objectives, the organization plans to engage public safety, develop and promote road maps that reflect the voice of public safety, collaborate with public safety to realize operational benefits, and invest in the network through people, time and resources to differentiate it.

FirstNet also announced the evolution of the former Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) task teams to strike teams. The PSAC’s goal is to have smaller teams of members pulled together to focus on current and specific topics, issues or questions to quickly turnaround input. The input will help create the road map for future objectives, officials said.

The strike teams are a small group of PSAC members with expertise, in addition to the executive committee, which will participate on each strike team. The short intensive meetings validate findings, provide guidance and develop recommendations.

The board passed a new resolution that moves FirstNet’s PSAC point of contact from the chief customer officer, formerly Rich Reed, to the executive director of public-safety advocacy, Dave Buchanan. Buchanan will be the FirstNet liaison with the PSAC to communicate work assignments, priorities and work plans on FirstNet’s behalf.

Chris Sambar, senior vice president of AT&T FirstNet, delivered an update on the network build, highlighting that the commercial carrier has hit each milestone in its contract on time or ahead of schedule. Sambar said that of FirstNet’s 3,600 public-safety agency customers announced in October, 70 percent of those agencies are new customers it acquired from other commercial carriers.

Sambar also used the meeting to differentiate FirstNet’s physically separate core from a competitor’s core, which he said is really that carrier’s commercial core. “They even produced a black SIM (subscriber identity module) card, which is a marketing gimmick,” he said. FirstNet’s SIM is black.

The Dec. 13 board meeting was the first since Ed Horowitz was named chair of the FirstNet board, and Parkinson was named acting CEO. Other new board members were sworn in earlier this week.

FirstNet Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kim Farington outlined the authority’s 2018 fiscal year financial results, saying the organization “ended the year well.” FirstNet used only 90 percent of its fiscal 2018 budget ended Sept. 30 — $65.9 million of $73.5 million — with the remaining 10 percent available to put toward future operations and investments in the network, she said.

For the first two months of fiscal year 2019, October and November, FirstNet used about $10.5 million or 13 percent of its total annual budget of $81 million. “This is in range of what we forecasted,” Farington said. “We typically have more obligations in October, so we are on track.”

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