AT&T announced late Friday that Chris Sambar, who has headed up the carrier’s team responsible for constructing and managing a nationwide public safety network for the First Responders Network Authority, will be moving into an executive network position for the company as a whole.
Sambar has been promoted to the role of executive VP, AT&T Technology Operations, responsible for both wireless and wireline network planning, investment, engineering, construction and operations for AT&T’s consumer, business and government customers. His role as senior vice president for the FirstNet program at AT&T will be filled by Jason Porter.
The shift of Sambar from leading the FirstNet team — which he has done since 2017, when AT&T won the federal contract — to presiding over AT&T’s overall technology and operations is among a number of recent executive changes at the company. Jeff McElfresh, who has been with AT&T for nearly 25 years and had been serving as the president of AT&T Communications’ Technology and Operations group since last year, recently moved into the position of AT&T Communications CEO. Meanwhile, the company expanded the role of executive John Stankey. Stankey has been appointed president and chief operating officer of AT&T Inc., as of October 1, in addition to his role as CEO of WarnerMedia. The president and COO role is a newly created position, the company noted.
In a statement, Sambar said that “working with the FirstNet Authority to bring the incredibly important FirstNet network to life has been a career highlight and a privilege. The ability to lead our FirstNet program for the past several years has been especially meaningful to me, aligning with a deep personal passion to serve the men and women that serve us without question each and every day. It’s been a true honor, and I look forward to continuing to support the expansion of the FirstNet network as I move into a new opportunity within AT&T.”
Sambar, brought his experience as a military veteran to FirstNet, added that the program “is in excellent care with Jason Porter, who shares a personal passion for serving our country. Jason brings the strategic foresight, wealth of industry expertise and bold thinking needed to guide the FirstNet program forward, ensuring it delivers the coverage and advanced capabilities our first responders nationwide expect and deserve.”
Porter has a military background as well, having graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with an engineering degree and subsequently serving in the Army, later earning a degree in business administration from Regis University. He comes to FirstNet from the role of Chief Data Officer and Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning for AT&T’s Technology Operations, where he has been responsible for alignment of global network planning, prioritization of over half of AT&T’s capital spend, design technology, talent enablement, program management across multiple technology domains, and the CDO’s center of excellence for data science, AI, and automation, according to a bio provided by AT&T. Porter has worked for AT&T since 2002 and held a number of leadership positions in engineering, strategy, operations and marketing in both AT&T’s consumer and business segments. Those positions have included serving as VP of global technology planning and program management for AT&T’s wireless and wireline networks, and leading AT&T’s cybersecurity business.
“I’m honored to lead our FirstNet program and carry on the important responsibility of delivering public safety’s vision for a dedicated, nationwide communications platform that’s second to none. Serving our first responders through FirstNet isn’t just a dream job for me, it’s a calling, and I’m excited to take on this special mission,” Porter said in a statement. He added that Sambar “has been instrumental in driving the success of FirstNet. His dedication, leadership and contributions have been invaluable to transforming the future of public safety communications, creating a solid foundation for FirstNet’s continued success.”