Wicker Examines Progress of FirstNet Deployment

Miss. Senator Says Network Needs to Provide Secure, Reliable Coverage in Rural Areas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today conducted a hearing to examine the progress of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). This new nationwide public safety broadband network is aimed at helping emergency responders communicate more effectively in order to save lives and protect communities.

Dr. Damon Darsey, an Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, was a witness at today’s hearing. Click here for Mr. Darsey’s testimony.

Key excerpts of Wicker’s opening statement include:

“Following the communications failures that plagued recovery efforts during 9/11 and other national emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina, there was – and still is – a clear need for a reliable communications network to support the essential work of our public safety officials. Such a network would improve coordination among first responders across multiple jurisdictions and enhance the ability of first responders to provide life-saving emergency services quickly.

“Last year…FirstNet reiterated its commitment to providing reliable coverage to rural areas. It assured members of the Subcommittee that user fees would be reasonably and affordably priced for public safety users – two issues of great importance to first responders around the country.”

“By any estimation, the development of this nationwide public safety broadband network is a challenge, but it is an essential endeavor to ensure that first responders can fulfill their daily mission to save lives. At the center of this effort is the courage of our nation’s first responders, who put their lives on the line every day – in Mississippi and across the nation – to protect our families, neighborhoods, and communities. They deserve a network that is interoperable, reliable, and secure.”

Other witnesses at today’s hearing included:

Mr. Curtis Brown, Deputy Secretary, Office of the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Mr. Mark Goldstein, Physical Issues Director, Government Accountability Office
Mr. Michael Poth, Chief Executive Officer, FirstNet
Mr. Chris Sambar, Senior Vice President, AT&T