FirstNet names CTO, agrees to fund key activities

The First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) announced the hiring of its first CTO. Named to the position is Ali Afrashteh, who has been working as a consultant but previously held executive positions with Clearwire, Sprint (NYSE: S), Nextel Communications and PCS PrimeCo.

Ali Afrashteh FirstNet CTO

Ali Afrashteh is FirstNet's first CTO.

"Ali will manage FirstNet's planning and deployment of technology programs and initiatives and provide expertise on strategic wireless technology and network operational planning," according to a FirstNet blog entry. "Ali will also ensure that technical systems, policies, and processes are fully supportive of FirstNet's mission to design and deploy a nationwide public safety broadband network," the blog added.

FierceMobileGovernment noted that the FirstNet organizational structure revealed in March meeting documents shows that there are seven officers who report to the FirstNet general manager. Afrashteh becomes number five on the staff. In addition to remaining vacancies in the COO and chief of staff positions, FirstNet is now missing a general manager to oversee the organization.

Bill D'Agostino resigned the GM position in April 2014, not quite a year after he was officially named to the position. He resigned "for personal and family reasons," according to FirstNet.

A source told FierceWirelessTech that one apparent sticking point was a decision to base the FirstNet GM at the authority's new corporate headquarters in Reston, Va. D'Agostino lives in Southern California.

Board member TJ Kennedy is currently FirstNet's acting GM.

 Teri Takai FirstNet


Meanwhile, FirstNet board member Teri Takai reportedly has resigned her CIO position at the U.S. Department of Defense, effective May 3, but will stay on at FirstNet. She is an original FirstNet board member, having been appointed to a one-year term in August 2012. She was subsequently reappointed to a three-year term, which ends in August 2016.

"Teri Takai remains an active board member, assisting FirstNet in the implementation of our strategic roadmap," FirstNet spokesman Corey Ray told IWCE's Urgent Communications.

In other news, FirstNet board's finance committee recently approved fiscal year 2014 guidelines. The committee agreed to fund key activities, such as including business strategy development, network development, outreach and consultation and operating infrastructure.

FirstNet management may commit up to $6.9 million on business strategy development activities in the fiscal year, including initiating a public notice and comment process; $33 million on network development, including the requirements and procurement process plans for requests for proposals (RFPs) for comprehensive network solutions and for equipment and services; $16.1 million on outreach and state consultation, including consultation with 56 states and territories; and $16.1 million to further develop FirstNet's operating infrastructure, including facilities and support and contract staff.

The fiscal 2015 budget request for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration includes $2.3 billion in total budget authority for FirstNet, a $305 million increase from the current year budget.

FirstNet, which is charged with building a 700 MHz, LTE-based network for use by public safety, recently increased its online presence by launching the website and establishing a Twitter account, @FirstNetGov.

For more:
- see this FirstNet blog entry and release
- see this FierceMobileGovernment article
- see this IWCE's Urgent Communications article
- see this InformationWeek article
- see this MissionCritical Communications article

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FirstNet's hunt for a replacement GM may enable a fresh start
FirstNet's GM: 'We will deliver this network for public safety'
FirstNet leases space for technical HQ in Colorado, prepares to hire 100 employees
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FirstNet lays out roadmap, extends spectrum talks with Texas county