FirstNet cancels meeting but is still open for business
FirstNet canceled yesterday’s scheduled board meeting, but the government shutdown has not halted the entity’s efforts to pursue the buildout of a much-anticipated nationwide broadband network for first responders, according to TJ Kennedy, FirstNet’s deputy general manager.
Technically, FirstNet was not impacted by the government shutdown, because it is an independent body that receives its funding from anticipated proceeds from FCC spectrum auctions, instead of the federal budget, according to sources. However, in practice, FirstNet has been affected by the government shutdown that has furloughed many employees of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce that work closely with FirstNet, Kennedy said.
“The FirstNet team is working,” Kennedy said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “Obviously, some of our staff support has come from NTIA and [the U.S. Department of] Commerce, so we are feeling the pinch and are certainly being very cost-conscious at this time. At the same point, we are continuing to plan and cover the missions of FirstNet.”
In particular, FirstNet officials are trying to select staff needed to conduct individual consultations with states and territories, Kennedy said. During the late spring and early summer, FirstNet hosted six regional meetings with officials from states and territories. Almost all of these entities have been awarded planning grants for the FirstNet project by NTIA, so FirstNet will be meeting with each state and territory individually to discuss strategies for implementing the network in its location.
Regarding yesterday’s board meeting, Kennedy said that FirstNet Chairman Sam Ginn will decide whether to reschedule the meeting, presumably after the government shutdown has ended.