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Mike Poth, Who Saw FirstNet to Fruition, Departs for Private Sector

The FirstNet Authority is well into the deployment phase for the nation's first interoperable emergency responder network.

Mike Poth, who led the First Responder Network Authority — more commonly known as FirstNet — is stepping down as CEO of the authority to take a position in the private sector.

Poth was appointed as CEO in 2015, three years after Congress authorized funding for the nationwide emergency responder communications network. He led the authority’s efforts to bring state and local governments on board with the idea, a process at times chaotic — in the final hours before the deadline for states to officially opt in or out of the network in December 2017, many had yet to come to a decision.

In the end, all 50 states agreed, and the network’s deployment is underway.

“For the past three years, I have had the honor of serving public safety here at the First Responder Network Authority. Leading this organization of talented individuals dedicated to supporting our nation’s first responders has been a true privilege,” Poth said in a statement. “Now, FirstNet is here. Together with AT&T and the public safety community, FirstNet is fully prepared to continue its momentum. In the meantime, I will be focusing my efforts on ensuring the smoothest transition for FirstNet and all of its stakeholders.”

He will officially step down at the end of September. The statement didn’t give any details about where he would be going.

The network, which AT&T is building out, will create a dedicated network that different jurisdictions — and different types of emergency responders — should be able to use to communicate with each other. In the authority’s last update in July, it said that it had added Band 14 equipment to 2,500 sites across the country. So far, the authority has logged 110,000 connections to the network.

As Poth departs, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has appointed Edward Horowitz as chair of the authority’s board. The board, which still has six empty seats, will appoint a new CEO to replace Poth.   

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.