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GAO: FirstNet Could Cost $47B in First 10 Years

A new Government Accountability Office study has concluded that the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) could cost between $12 billion and $47 billion over its first 10 years.

FCC auctions are slated to cover about $7 billion of that cost.

The GAO study found that FirstNet had made progress toward creating that network, but lacked "certain effective internal controls."

The GAO report was requested by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Thune held a March 11 hearing on FirstNet.

“I commend GAO on its thorough examination of FirstNet’s progress in building a public safety network," Thune said in releasing the report. "GAO found that while progress has been made, FirstNet is confronted with many challenges. As I stated at our committee’s recent hearing, FirstNet should leverage the sizeable taxpayer investment in early builder projects by implementing a detailed data-analysis plan. FirstNet must also more fully assess the risks it faces as it builds a network that provides public safety officials with a network to serve all Americans.”

"FirstNet is pleased with the GAO findings that we have made progress in establishing an organizational structure, planning the network, and consulting with stakeholders," said a FirstNet spokesman. "These findings represent the hard work and commitment of the FirstNet team.  We also agree with the GAO’s recommendations for improvement in certain areas and will fully implement them.  As a new organization, FirstNet plans to continue to focus on implementing best practices to supplement the strong progress made to date."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.