Statement of FirstNet Board Member Sue Swenson Following February Board Meeting
“The FirstNet Board has taken a big step forward with the BTOP public safety projects. Using the information we obtained from our site visits and other work with the projects’ leaders and vendors, we have determined that each of these seven grantees could provide substantial benefits to FirstNet’s nationwide deployment efforts and generate valuable lessons learned on the challenges we face.
“The Board’s action today kicks off a two phase process: First, on behalf of FirstNet, I will be spearheading our negotiations with each of the grantees over the next 90 days in an effort to reach agreements that would include a common set of terms and conditions that would transform these potential benefits into the tangible results of meaningful, working relationships between FirstNet and the grantees. However, the BTOP grantees and I will also have the flexibility to capture any special project characteristics in an agreement. These could include how a project will address rural or wide- area deployments, in-building coverage issues, development of public safety applications, billing and provisioning, or other specific project features that FirstNet could leverage as it builds and operates a nationwide public safety broadband network that meets the needs of all of our first responders.
“If a negotiation with a grantee concludes successfully within that 90-day window, and the Board approves the agreement, FirstNet then would execute a spectrum lease with the grantee. In addition, FirstNet would provide a recommendation to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which administers the BTOP program, in support of that grantee’s request to lift the partial suspension of its funding. As administrator of the BTOP program, NTIA will have the final decision on whether lifting a grant suspension is a prudent use of taxpayer funds.”