FirstNet President TJ Kennedy and FirstNet Chief Counsel Jason Karp will be leaving FirstNet at the end of the year to start a new company early next year that will focus on helping technology firms develop broadband solutions that will meet the needs of public-safety users.

Kennedy and Karp received plaudits during the Dec. 7 FirstNet board meeting—the final board meeting for both men, who played key roles in FirstNet’s evolution from a fledgling organization to a entity overseeing the deployment of a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

During an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications, Kennedy described the final board meeting as “kind of bittersweet. It’s certainly something we’re going to miss, but at the same point, I think we can feel confident that we’re going to help it out on the other side.”

That “other side” is the private sector, where Kennedy and Karp plan to launch a new company called The Public Safety Network. Kennedy and Karp will be principals in the new company, Kennedy said.

“We are going to focus on helping technology companies embrace the new platform that is public-safety broadband,” he said. “[The Public Safety Network plans to] make sure that they are bringing software, hardware and devices to the new networks—not just FirstNet, but around the world for public safety—and meeting the needs of first responders everywhere.”

Public safety could see a “significant change” in the technology available to it in as little as two years, and The Public Safety Network hopes to work with companies to ensure that the new offerings address the needs of first responders, Kennedy said.

“[We will be] consulting to companies on how they can really embrace public safety and make sure their technologies are built to be tough enough to be handled by public safety and to embrace this large market—both in the U.S. and abroad—of millions of first responders who are looking for applications and looking for devices,” Kennedy said.

“I think that the experience Jason and I have gained certainly will be helpful to the companies that want to embrace [public-safety broadband]. Whether that’s helping them develop applications, whether that’s helping them meet the needs through devices or other hardware, or whether that’s consulting on their strategy for addressing this marketplace, those are all things we’ll be looking at.”

Karp echoed this sentiment.

 “We think we can offer tremendous insight and experience, whether it’s internationally in terms of setting up a strategy in terms of how to do this—like we’ve done in the United States or otherwise—or working with various companies,” Karp said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“[Public safety is] a quirky market. It’s difficult to change. It’s slow to change, but we’re really at a cataclysmic moment now, with this new ecosystem. I don’t think there’s ever been a better opportunity for public safety to embrace some of these new technologies, so we’re really excited about rolling up our sleeves and getting into the nitty gritty with some of these new clients.”

In addition to helping hardware and software solutions providers develop first-responder products, Kennedy and Karp hope to share the knowledge they’ve gained from their FirstNet experiences with public- and private-sector officials in countries that are considering public-safety-broadband initiatives.

“Where the [public-safety-broadband] ecosystem has not yet rolled out—in international jurisdictions—I think we have a tremendous amount to offer, in terms of how to approach, from a strategic perspective, to roll out something like this on a nationwide basis—given the specifics of the jurisdiction, of course,” Karp said.

“Having lived though the good, the bad and the ugly [of FirstNet]—the things that that worked, the things that didn’t work—there are a lot of lessons learned that I think we can help apply abroad … Where there’s an existing ecosystem, we really want to help companies with their strategies moving forward. And, where [public-safety broadband] is in its infancy, I think there’s tremendous value we can offer in helping architect how these kinds of services get rolled out in the first place.”

Although Karp serves as chief counsel for FirstNet, he said The Public Safety Network does not plan to offer formal legal services. Instead, the company will focus on providing more strategic advice to clients, he said.

Kennedy said he believes the new company’s “sweet spot” will be in the Internet of Life-Saving Things space, but that work may be integrated with other smart-cities initiatives related to transportations, public works or other critical elements.