FirstNet setting up technical HQ in Boulder

BOULDER – FirstNet, an agency created by Congress to oversee a national emergency communications network, will locate its technical headquarters in Boulder, according to its board of directors.

FirstNet is an independent entity of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which shares a campus with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, said Heather Phillips, a NTIA spokeswoman.

No lease agreement has been signed for the technical headquarters site, yet, Phillips said, declining to give further details of the location. Both NTIA and NIST are part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Representatives of the government agency chose Boulder as technical headquarters because the federal government’s related Public Safety Communications Research program is based in U.S. Commerce Department labs in Boulder, according to a prepared statement. Workers involved with the program operate a network in the Boulder area. An unnamed site in northern Virginia will serve as the group’s corporate headquarters, according to the statement.

“Picking our corporate and technical headquarters marks an important milestone as we lay the foundation for building this nationwide public safety broadband network,” Sam Ginn, the group’s chairman, said in the press statement. “It will give us greater clarity as we recruit key talent to join the FirstNet team.”

The agency also is expected to open regional offices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 10 regions around the country, according to the press statement.

FirstNet is short for First Responder Network Authority, which is tasked with developing and operating a national public safety broadband network. The plan to create the network was approved in 2012 by Congress. It is expected to be funded with proceeds from broadband spectrum auctions, according to the press statement.

The idea is for FirstNet to improve communication among local, state, regional, tribal and national emergency services personnel, according to the press statement. It is governed by representatives of public safety, government and the wireless industry.

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