- Nationwide public safety communications platform FirstNet approved a $240 million budget for FY 2019 and pledged to stay "laser focused" on building out its network.
- The budget comes just over a year after it signed a contract with AT&T worth $6.5 billion to serve as its sole vendor. Of the $240 million in spending, $81 million will fund the network's day-to-day operations, $78 million will go on enhancements and innovations, with $81 million placed in reserve.
- "With the network deployment in full swing, the FirstNet Authority is laser focused on driving the network build-out and innovation to advance public safety communications," FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a statement.
Since it went live, FirstNet appears to be going from strength to strength as it adds subscriptions from public safety agencies across the country. A spokeswoman told StateScoop this budget is its first self-funded one, as its annual payments to AT&T for its use of dedicated spectrum are then invested in its budget. Being financially independent is crucial for FirstNet, as it should mean it is sustainable and can then keep its promise to focus on innovation and new technology.
New innovations floated include enhanced location finding, which could show which story of a high-rise building someone is on and be helpful in dealing with fires at such buildings in cities. In a statement, FirstNet board chair Sue Swenson said the authority is positioned "for continued success as we work on behalf of public safety to ensure the network delivers what they asked for and evolves to meet their needs."
After some difficulties getting New Hampshire to become the 50th and final state to opt in to the service, FirstNet officials appear confident they can dominate, even with Verizon's rival service for first responders also rolling out. In the announcement of its budget plan, FirstNet rattled off a series of achievements in its first year, which includes a successful launch and getting its Innovation and Test Lab off the ground. For its leadership to continue, it is imperative to not only sign up new agencies to the FirstNet platform, but also explore new ways to improve its service, so as to stay ahead of the competition.