In August 2015, FirstNet board members selected Mike Poth as the organization’s CEO, while Kennedy was appointed FirstNet president. Less than four months later, the FirstNet board approved the release of the nationwide request for proposals (RFP) seeking bidders to build and maintain the NPSBN—a contract that was awarded to AT&T in March.

Under the law that established FirstNet, governors in all 56 states and territories have the choice of making an “opt-in” decision—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan and allowing AT&T to build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state’s borders at no cost to the state—or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which would require the state to be responsible for building and maintaining the RAN for the next 25 years.

Kennedy will leave FirstNet at the end of the year, just two days after governors in all states and three territories are required to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions on Dec. 29.

When Congress passed the law that established FirstNet in 2012, many public-safety representatives, analysts and observers expressed concern that the 700 MHz spectrum and $7 billion in funding could not be leveraged in a manner that would result in a self-sustaining nationwide network that was estimated to cost at least $40 billion. But the FirstNet RFP was structure in a manner that effectively assures that the network will be sustainable for at least the next 25 years.

Kennedy said all members of the FirstNet team should feel a sense of accomplishment that the NPSBN will become a reality for the first-responders community for the next quarter century.

“The network is happening,” Kennedy said. “There are no longer the questions of four and half years ago: Is this going to happen? Can it happen? Is it really going to work? Is anybody going to bid? Well, we answered all of those—yes, yes, yes and yes.

“Now, you know it’s going to be around for 25 years—and it’s going to be maintained, and it’s going to be upgraded. That’s never been done in public safety before anywhere in the world that I’m aware of. We should all be proud of that.”