Ed Parkinson named acting CEO for FirstNet, succeeding Mike Poth
Ed Parkinson, one of FirstNet’s initial employees and someone who has worked for the development of public-safety broadband for most of this decade, is the new acting CEO of FirstNet, according to an announcement today from the FirstNet Authority and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Parkinson has been serving as the FirstNet Authority’s director of external affair for the past six months, but he has been with the organization since August 2013, when he was named as FirstNet’s director of governmental affairs at the same time as TJ Kennedy was named deputy general manager. Parkinson was among the first full-time staff members hired after FirstNet was created in 2012.
“I look forward to working with Ed in his new role,” U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information David Redl said in a prepared statement. “His understanding of the history of the FirstNet project and his leadership roles throughout its maturation make him uniquely qualified to lead the FirstNet organization into its operational phase.”
FirstNet board Chair Ed Horowitz echoed this sentiment.
“Mr. Parkinson is an excellent choice for Acting CEO,” Horowitz said in a prepared statement. “I have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with Ed, in his role as Executive Director of External Affairs, during the last three years and look forward to working closely with him as CEO.”
Although Parkinson has no formal public-safety work experience, his advocacy for public-safety broadband predates the establishment of FirstNet. In fact, Parkinson served as a professional staff member for the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security when public-safety representatives advocated that 700 MHz D Block spectrum be reallocated to first responders.
Parkinson drafted the first bill introduced by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)—chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security—that called for the FCC to grant the D Block to public safety. This notion was a key component of the 2012 legislation that established FirstNet and tasked the organization with building a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).
“I am honored being named to the position, to lead the incredible people that we have at FirstNet today, and to deliver the network that public safety can trust with their lives. I look forward to working with Chairman Horowitz, the FirstNet Board, and our colleagues at the Department of Commerce, especially Assistant Secretary Redl and NTIA, in achieving the high standards that public safety requires. Together with AT&T, FirstNet will succeed in delivering a world class service for public safety.”
Former FirstNet Vice Chair Jeff Johnson—one of the public-safety officials who advocated for D Block allocation years ago—cited this experience while expressing support for Parkinson’s appointment as the FirstNet Authority’s acting CEO.
“I’m really excited for FirstNet,” Johnson said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Ed has been with public safety from the very beginning, and you couldn’t find a more credible and capable guy.”
Parkinson is succeeding Mike Poth, who announced his resignation as FirstNet Authority CEO last month. The FirstNet board and NTIA officials are working together on the process for selecting a permanent CEO, according to a FirstNet spokesperson.