FirstNet Authority approves $240 million budget in first self-funded fiscal year

WIth its budget approved, FirstNet CEO Mike Poth says the authority is now "laser focused" on continuing its network buildout.

The FirstNet Authority, the independent agency within the Department of Commerce charged with overseeing the deployment of the nation’s dedicated public safety communications network, announced a $240 million budget for the 2019 fiscal year on Monday.

The $240 million is split into three categories : program and administrative operations, reserve, and network reinvestment. One $81 million chunk will be used to fund FirstNet Authority programs, staff and activities, while another $78 million allocation will be used to reinvest in the public safety network — specifically in enhancements and innovation recommended through feedback from public safety organizations and FirstNet subscribers.

Finally, an allocation of $81 million, matching the operations budget for 2019, will be put in reserve funding for the authority.

With FirstNet’s establishment in 2012 as part of the Middle Class Tax & Relief Act, the authority was allocated a portion of the initial $7 billion granted by congress to establish the network. That funded the authority for five years. In March of 2017, the authority signed a $6.5 billion contract with AT&T to serve as the sole vendor of the network — with AT&T committing roughly $40 billion to building out the network — and in 2018, the company began making annual payments in exchange for use of the network’s dedicated spectrum.


Those payments, a spokesperson for FirstNet told StateScoop, are invested in the authority’s 2019 budget, enabling the authority to be fully self-funded for the first time in its existence.

“This budget is an investment in the future of our organization and in public safety’s network,” said CEO Mike Poth in a statement. “With the network deployment in full swing, the FirstNet Authority is laser focused on driving the network build-out and innovation to advance public safety communications.”

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