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Vice chair promoted to top spot at FirstNet

Sue Swenson's tenure as chairwoman of FirstNet will last three years.

Sue Swenson, a longtime telecommunications executive, was named by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to take over leadership of the FirstNet board of directors. She replaces the agency's first chairman, Sam Ginn, who will remain on the board until his term expires in August.

FirstNet is leading an effort to build a nationwide, interoperable public safety mobile broadband communications network that can connect state, local, and federal first responders. The agency, a component of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Agency, is still in the process of staffing up to oversee construction of the network. Ginn, 78, came out of retirement to launch the FirstNet board in 2012. Swenson joined as vice-chairwoman last December. Her term as chairwoman will last three years.

Swenson takes over at a critical time, as FirstNet is planning to develop a series of requests for proposals covering the construction of the network as well as for equipment and services. The plan is being funded by $7 billion in anticipated proceeds from an upcoming spectrum auction. FirstNet's plan is to incorporate existing network assets wherever possible, rather than building capacity from scratch. In a FirstNet blog post, Swenson promised more updates on implementation plans at a board meeting next week.

The agency also announced that Acting Deputy CTO Jeff Bratcher is joining FirstNet on a permanent basis. He had been detailed to FirstNet's technical headquarters in Boulder, Colo., from NTIA. Bratcher will continue to lead the teams that are creating the technical specifications for the network.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM

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