This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
As noted by the NTIA: “In February 2012, Congress enacted The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, containing landmark provisions to create a much-needed nationwide interoperable broadband network…”
For those in the industry who are still not yet aware of the $7 billion U.S. government funded start-up company, FirstNet, here are a few key points to know:
-FirstNet is the largest telecom project in the history of the United States of America.
- When complete it will be larger than some of the major carriers today.
-It will cover every square meter of the United States with a wireless system.
This may all seem a fantastic story, a giant tall-tale, that there is such a plan and such an organization that is founded, formed, capitalized and in effect building this system. These bullets are in fact not fantasy, but true representations from FirstNet’s own chairman.
Here’s an excerpt of comments made by Sam Ginn, chairman of FirstNet, at the company’s Dec. 11, 2012, board meeting held in Washington, D.C:
"Yeah, and, you know, I understand the perspective because we are talking about big budgets here. But I'd just like to remind the board that this is the largest telecom project in the history of this country.
When we complete this project, it's going to be larger than some of the major carriers today, okay?
If you look at those major carriers and just a simple example, the number of engineers that are working just incrementally on their networks, there are thousands of those engineers.
And I think we have 12 employees at this point in time. So we have to grow a great deal, this is a complex project. There will be hundred of thousands of decisions made every day as we get into this project. And I just hope we don't forget about the scale, and how complex it's really going to be, because it is a very large and complex effort. So, I understand Kevin, and I want you to keep us honest about budgets. I'm for control, and just as you are, I'm for holding people accountable for what they do. And if we don't get results, we'll change it, and make sure that we do.
But this is not a small project in the northern part of Maine. I mean we've got to cover every square meter of this United States with a wireless system.
And that's going to be a big challenge."
A big challenge indeed! Considering that no other private, for-profit telecom company has been able to accomplish this feat thus far in the United States, one could argue that FirstNet will in fact be the largest and most important telecom network operator in the country when the job is complete.
Imagine that! Even with all of this insight and knowledge about what FirstNet is and will be, many questions still remain about how this will all happen and by when.
For those interested in watching the video of the board meeting it can be viewed at www.ntia.doc.gov. The time stamp of Sam Ginn’s statement is 22:58 to 24:57. For those who were not aware of FirstNet, now you are. Everyone should stay tuned.
Edited by Brooke Neuman