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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Announces Appointment of Robert T. Osterthaler as Chair of FirstNet Authority Board

August 17, 2020
News Media Contact
Commerce Department

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the appointment of Robert Tipton (Tip) Osterthaler to serve as Board Chair of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority).

Osterthaler is a retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General and private sector CEO who was first appointed to the Board in 2018, serving as the Finance Committee Chair as well as a member of the Governance and Personnel Committee. He will succeed Edward D. Horowitz, who was appointed Board Chair by Secretary Ross in 2018 and is completing his two-year term as Chair on August 19, 2020. Horowitz will remain on the Board until his term as a member expires in 2021.

“Tip Osterthaler has been an instrumental FirstNet Board member who will bring exceptional leadership to the organization during the next phase of FirstNet implementation,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “FirstNet’s mission has proved even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am confident Tip will excel in his new role as he ensures first responders have the connectivity they need to support the American people. I want to thank Edward Horowitz for his leadership of the FirstNet Board over the last two years. Under his leadership, the FirstNet Authority released its Roadmap and made the first key reinvestments into the network. I applaud Ed for his strong tenure as Board Chair, and I look forward to FirstNet’s future accomplishments under Tip’s leadership.”

Representatives from government, industry and public safety serve on the Board to oversee the activities of FirstNet and ensure that the FirstNet Authority and AT&T, its commercial partner, develop, build, and operate a nationwide broadband network that will best equip first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities.

“Tip’s extensive government and private sector experience make him an ideal candidate to serve as the next Chair of the FirstNet Board,” said Doug Kinkoph, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “NTIA will maintain our close collaboration with the Board and FirstNet Authority management as it continues to successfully deploy and upgrade the nationwide public safety broadband network.”


The First Responder Network Authority is an independent entity within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). FirstNet’s mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. In March 2017, the Department of Commerce and FirstNet announced a partnership with AT&T to build and operate the first responder network. It will deliver the technologies and infrastructure that public safety desperately needs for day-to-day operations, disaster response and recovery, and securing of large events.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act) created FirstNet, and Congress directed that FirstNet be governed by a 15-person Board, with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget named as permanent Board members. The Secretary of Commerce selects the remaining 12 members, ensuring representation by public safety practitioners; interests of State, local, and tribal governments; telecommunications and financial experience; as well as geographic diversity as required in the Act.

To view the full bios of the FirstNet Authority Board, visit: To learn more about the FirstNet network and the FirstNet Authority’s public safety programs, visit