Two FirstNet board members with public-safety backgrounds—Jeff Johnson and Charles Dowd—expressed optimism about the organization’s roadmap and provided personal perspectives on many aspects of the proposed nationwide broadband network for public safety during a session at IWCE 2014.

Neither Dowd—a deputy chief for the New York Police Department (NYPD)—nor Johnson—CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs—offered official new timelines or details about FirstNet plans, but both shared opinions on their broad visions for unprecedented broadband system, which will utilize 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum granted to public safety two years ago.

Both board members said they are encouraged by developments in Band 14 LTE equipment that were displayed in the IWCE exhibit hall last week—the kind of subscriber and infrastructure gear that is needed for FirstNet to realize its goal to provide first responders with dedicated broadband access throughout the 50 U.S. states and six territories.

“What we’re all witnessing is a gravitas that comes with a single approach to something,” Johnson said during the session. “You put 20 MHz of spectrum and a nationwide network on the street, and you watch the ecosystem respond to that.

“I think we’re going to watch that in hardware, we’re going to watch that in applications, and we’re going to watch that in a whole series of things that are going to touch this network. It’s exciting, because we’ve been spread over six different bands on 22,000-plus networks over the years, and it’s exciting when you create mass as you watch the network come together.”

Dowd cited the rapid pace of LTE developments, noting that it is common for devices today to operate in several spectrum bands, even though industry experts questioned whether it was technically possible to build such equipment as little as three years ago.