Commerce Department names board for first-responder network

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Ginn served as chairman and CEO of Pacific Telesis from 1988 to 1994 and chairman of AirTouch from 1993 to 1999. He became chairman of Vodafone in 1999 after the company bought AirTouch.

Ginn, a native of Anniston, Ala., is a graduate of Auburn University and serves on the university's board of directors.

The other board members include veteran public-safety officials and other retired telecom executives. The law requires that the board include members from rural areas.  

“Today’s announcement is an example of the Obama administration’s commitment to ensuring that our brave first responders have the modern communications capabilities they need to be safe while protecting our communities,” Blank said in a statement. “For too long, America’s first responders have been hampered by outdated technology and incompatible networks, and the creation of the FirstNet Board is a critical first step toward changing that."

Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department, said the board has a "wealth of public safety expertise and members who thoroughly understand state and local communications needs."

"And with Sam Ginn in the lead, we have an exceptional roster of wireless industry veterans who know how to build a network and develop a product that offers the applications desired by the public safety community at an affordable price," Strickling said.

Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and one of the leading proponents of the public-safety network, said the appointments "begin a new chapter in making sure our firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers, among other first responders, have the tools they need to get the job done and keep us safe." 

He emphasized that it is crucial to have a national centralized board to oversee the construction of the broadband network.

“The strong national governance structure created by Congress is essential to making sure that FirstNet is successful, Rockefeller said. "Congress entrusted the FirstNet board with achieving the pressing public safety need for an effective public safety communications network that works across agencies and jurisdictions – in rural as well as urban areas."

The other members named to the board are:

• Tim Bryan, CEO, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative

• Charles “Chuck” Dowd, deputy chief, New York City Police Department

• F. Craig Farrill, wireless telecommunications executive

• Paul Fitzgerald, sheriff, Story County, Iowa

• Jeffrey Johnson, fire chief (retired); former chair, State Interoperability Council, State of Oregon; CEO, Western Fire Chiefs Association

• William Keever, telecommunications executive (retired)

• Kevin McGinnis, Chief/CEO, North East Mobile Health Services

• Ed Reynolds, telecommunications executive (retired)

• Susan Swenson, telecommunications/technology executive

• Teri Takai, government information technology expert; former CIO, states of Michigan and California

• Wellington Webb, founder, Webb Group International; former mayor, Denver

The secretary of Homeland Security, the attorney general and the director of the Office of Management and Budget will serve as permanent members of the board.