FirstNet has filled key roles for leading the cybersecurity strategy and monitoring the development of standards public-safety LTE standards, and the organization continues to seek technical personnel as it prepares a final request for proposal (RFP) that is scheduled to be released by the end of this year.

In June, FirstNet Acting CTO Jeff Bratcher announced that Glenn Zimmerman—previously the director of the Air National Guard’s network operations and security center—was selected to serve as the organizations senior security architect. Zimmerman has hired a cybersecurity engineer and is making progress in the development of a system structure that is designed to address one of FirstNet’s key challenges: ensuring the security of the proposed nationwide public-safety broadband network, Bratcher said.

Current FirstNet plans call for the organization to release a final request for proposal (RFP) by the end of the year, and establishing a cybersecurity structure by that time is important, Bratcher said.

“We hope to have some things coming out soon,” Bratcher said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “I can’t go into any details right now, but that is definitely a focus of ours right now, so we can get that addressed before the RFP goes out.”

In the legislation that created FirstNet, Congress called for FirstNet to lead the U.S. standards-development effort impacting the proposed network—most notably, public-safety initiatives being executed in 3GPP, the standards body for LTE, the fourth-generation wireless technology that is core to the FirstNet system.

To date, that standards work—funded by FirstNet—has been headed by Andrew Thiessen of the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, Bratcher said. Recently, FirstNet hired Dean Prochaska to head the standards effort for the organization.

“[Prochaska is] going to take ownership of the team that we had funded with Andy Thiessen and the team for standards,” Bratcher said. “Now, we’ll have Dean as the official FirstNet employee, and he’ll be attending the [standards] meetings, along with the support of PSCR. He plans to hire a standards engineer at FirstNet, when he gets up to speed.”

Thiessen noted Prochaska’s hiring the recent IWCE online College of Technology session entitled “Voice over LTE for the Enterprise and Public Safety” (register here to listen to an on-demand archive of the session). Bratcher said Prochaska’s hiring will allow Thiessen to concentrate on his “many other duties” as PSCR’s deputy program manager—duties that Bratcher knows well, because he preceded Thiessen in the position. However, Thiessen will continue to play a standards role, Bratcher said.

“[Thiessen will] still be involved,” he said. “We definitely are not losing him from the standards effort.”

In addition to these hires, the FirstNet CTO office continues to seek candidates to fill multiple technical positions. This week, the position of supervisory electrical engineer-director of core network was posted, with applications due on Aug. 18. For more information about technical job opportunities within FirstNet, listen to this podcast with Bratcher.