By TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Acting Executive Director
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak before more than 300 independent, community-based telecommunications professionals attending the NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association’s Wireless Symposium in Las Vegas, NV.
During my presentation, I focused on the communications needs of rural and small-town communities and talked about my experiences both living and working as a public safety professional in rural areas around the country. I also discussed how FirstNet is moving with strategic urgency to make the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) a reality in rural America.
In 2015, FirstNet will focus on consultation efforts with federal, regional, state, tribal, and local jurisdictions, to assure their unique concerns and needs are heard. I noted that that under the legislation that created FirstNet, the term “rural” ensures substantial rural coverage milestones in each phase of building out the network. FirstNet will continue to explore cost-effective opportunities to speed network deployment in rural areas.
I also talked about how the team at FirstNet is working to complete a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) as soon as possible, and that once it is released we would encourage full participation in that process. I noted that just as NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in legislative and regulatory arenas, FirstNet is committed to keeping rural a key focal point in the discussions about the NPSBN.
NTCA Vice President Steve Pastorkovich summed it up best last week when he told attendees they would play “an important part in the development and success of the nationwide public safety broadband network.” Thanks to Steve and to NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield for their commitment to rural telecommunications issues and for inviting FirstNet to participate in the symposium.