FirstNet board members today approved changes to the organization’s charter, which includes a new Investment Review Board within the Finance Committee that will spearhead how about $15 billion from contractor AT&T will be spent during the next 25 years.

As part of FirstNet’s deal with AT&T, the carrier gets access to the 20 MHz of 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet, and the AT&T is allowed to sell commercial services on excess capacity on the FirstNet system that is not used by prioritized public-safety user.

In addition, FirstNet will pay AT&T $6.5 billion to build out the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) as construction goals are met during the next four years, but AT&T will make annual payments back to FirstNet that are scheduled to total $18 billion during the 25-year contract. These funds are designed to ensure that FirstNet is a financially self-sustaining organization—a requirement of the law that establish FirstNet—and that money is available to pay for network improvements, such as upgrades to 5G and 6G technologies.

Exactly how money will be reinvested into the FirstNet system will be determined by an “investment review process” that will led by an Investment Review Board (IRB), according to FirstNet CFO Kim Farington.

“What we have done is establish an investment review process to make sure that—as we reinvest those funds—we reinvest them properly and most effectively,” Farington said during a presentation to the FirstNet Finance Committee and other board members. “We’re going to make sure, through our investment review process, that we align every reinvestment with our strategic goals.

“Efficiency is also important. We’ve established a structure for the IRB—the Investment Review Board—that will allow us to streamline the portfolio management and most effectively evaluate every investment that comes before us.”

Ed Horowitz, the new chairman of the FirstNet Finance Committee, said that the revised Finance Committee charter outlines the Finance Committee’s roles regarding risk management and in the investment review process, "which we will be standing up over the next several months.”

There was no announcement about the makeup of the IRB, although one source suggested that it could include some board members and some officials from FirstNet’s executive staff. Farington said that the IRB would seek advice from others in the FirstNet organization.

“We are not going to do this in a vacuum,” Farington said. “We are going to leverage any subject matter experts that we can to make sure that we’re making the most robust, structured and effective decision on all investments.

Farington also said that the investment review process would include a risk-management approach to ensure that “we make sure that we’re making good, solid decisions on every investment.”