AT&T’s FirstNet program is one of the carrier’s shining stars — even according to Elliott Management. Now, Chris Sambar, who had been leading the program as SVP of FirstNet, has been promoted to executive vice president of AT&T Technology Operations. And Jason Porter will be stepping into the FirstNet leadership role as senior vice president.
Sambar led the FirstNet program since April 2017. “Working with the FirstNet Authority to bring the incredibly important FirstNet network to life has been a career highlight and a privilege,” said Sambar, via an email to FierceWireless.
In its highly publicized letter to the AT&T Board, activist investor Elliott Management was mostly critical, but it had good things to say about FirstNet. “AT&T’s milestone FirstNet deployment has provided improved network performance as well as a large and stable funnel of new customers,” stated the letter. We believe that AT&T is best positioned to be the market leader in 5G. Accelerated by its FirstNet build, AT&T is differentiated with a strong spectrum positioning (both mmWave and mid-band), highly virtualized and software upgradable network, leading business solutions (both wireless and wireline) and premier IoT franchise.”
AT&T’s FirstNet program will now be led by Jason Porter. “I’m honored to lead our FirstNet program and carry on the important responsibility of delivering public safety’s vision for a dedicated, nationwide communications platform that’s second to none,” said Porter in a statement.
Both Porter and Sambar have military backgrounds. Porter graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Sambar graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. They both speak of the role at FirstNet as an opportunity to serve first responders.
At AT&T, Porter had most recently served for eight months as the company’s Chief Data Officer. That’s a role that’s been a bit of a revolving door. Prior to his stint as CDO, Porter held several leadership positions in engineering, strategy, operations and marketing, spanning across both the consumer and business segments.
Sambar’s new network position
In Sambar’s new role, he will be responsible for AT&T's next generation wireless and wireline network planning, investment, engineering, construction, and operations for consumer, business and government customers. That’s a monumental task as AT&T continues to invest in fiber deployments and as it deals with municipalities across the country in order to deploy the cellular infrastructure for 5G.
An AT&T spokesperson confirmed that the role of EVP for AT&T Technology Operations had previously been filled by Scott Mair. **Oct. 1 Update: Scott Mair was recently promoted to president of AT&T Technology Operations.