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Tip Osterthaler speaks with public safety officials in front of ambulance

Building Public Safety’s Network

August 20, 2020

I am honored to have been appointed chair of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) Board. As I take the helm of the Board today, I am eager to continue to drive progress for all of public safety.

I first became involved with the FirstNet Authority in 2018, joining the Board just one year after the public-private partnership with AT&T was formed. Since then, I have had the opportunity to watch the network come to life with extensive buildout and widespread adoption among public safety. As the Finance Committee Chair, I was involved in shaping some of our most important activities of the last two years – including disciplined budgets that fund our organization and guide the future of the network. The Committee also had a key role in developing the FirstNet Authority Roadmap and the first set of network investments.

These experiences will enable me to hit the ground running as Chair. I also will apply the lessons I have learned as both a public servant and a private sector leader, implementing a simple, clear strategy that relies on prudent risk-taking, disciplined execution, and metrics-based analysis.

We must take full advantage of everything FirstNet has to offer as a public-private partnership. With a team of experts in both government and industry, we have a wealth of talent to draw on as we embark on the next phase of the network’s evolution. Further, with a stable financial model in place, the FirstNet Authority can plan ahead with a full understanding of what funds are available to continue to build and grow public safety’s network.

Ultimately, the FirstNet mission will drive our work for the years to come. It is hard to overstate the growing importance of secure, mobile broadband access for our nation’s first responders. I am confident of not only the growing need for this dedicated network, but also of the opportunity we have to create something far more differentiated and valuable than the government or private industry is capable of providing alone.

As Chair, I will continue the progress and pace set by my predecessor, Ed Horowitz, by building and maintaining open and productive working relations with the public safety community, industry, key government partners, and the leaders of the FirstNet Authority team. I look forward to what we will build together in the years to come.

Robert Tipton (Tip) Osterthaler is chair of the FirstNet Authority Board. Tip brings decades of expertise in both the public and private sectors to his new role. After serving nearly 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, he retired as a Brigadier General and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy. Later, he acted as President and CEO of SES Government Solutions, an independent subsidiary of SES, one of the world’s largest satellite communications companies. He has been a member of the FirstNet Authority Board since 2018, serving as the Finance Committee chair and helping to guide the organization in the development and execution of the first strategic network enhancements, totaling more than $200 million.