Verizon Exec Says More FirstNet Opt-Outs Possible
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 | Comments
A Verizon executive affirmed the company’s commitment to public safety and said the carrier is still actively working with some states on potential opt-out scenarios to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

“There are a handful of states where we’re in a no-comment mode because we are actively working with them on potential opt-out scenarios,” said Michael Maiorana, senior vice president, public sector for Verizon. “When it comes down to the bids, we’re still in open procurement with a few states and jurisdictions.”

Verizon last week said it would not submit a bid to California’s request for proposals (RFP) for alternative proposals to the FirstNet and AT&T state plan.

“These are our customers so we talk to them every day,” he said. “If a state believes opt out is the best solution, we’re gauging that with our business requirements and looking for win-win outcomes for both our customers and Verizon.”

The carrier plans to deploy a separate core for public-safety users with priority and pre-emption services, along with a public-safety application ecosystem. Maiorana said FirstNet is impeding interoperability with other public-safety networks. “I don’t believe that was the intent of the legislation [that created FirstNet],” he said. “We’re anxious about that. We don’t think one network nationwide can serve public safety.”

FirstNet has said there should be just one Long Term Evolution (LTE) core to serve the public-safety community nationwide.

“To think … that one company can be the sole provider across the country of public-safety networks — it’s absurd,” Maiorana said. “During the hurricanes this year, how many AT&T cell sites were out? What if those public-safety officials didn’t have an option to use Verizon or T-Mobile or others? We’re going to continue to advocate for competition …”

During a House subcommittee hearing earlier this year, industry consultant Robert LeGrande II also advocated for interoperability ad competition for public safety. However, AT&T Senior Vice President Chris Sambar said interoperability between numerous cores could cause security issues.

Maiorana said the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards for LTE ensure interoperability and security. Verizon executives are willing to work with FirstNet and AT&T to ensure interoperability and cybersecurity.

“I am completely convinced that FirstNet and AT&T are using cybersecurity as a scare tactic to avoid coming to the table with Verizon security experts,” he said. “It’s something that can be done.”

When asked why the carrier didn’t bid on the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) RFP last year, Maiorana said Verizon made a business decision not to bid.

“We’ve already invested in a plethora of spectrum and deliver today and the future’s commitment from a wireless network perspective inclusive of 5G,” he said. “We didn’t need the spectrum. We already have the coverage advantage … and we have the market share. From a business assessment perspective, we didn’t believe we needed to bid on FirstNet.”

Verizon has 600,000 more square miles of LTE coverage than AT&T and already offers backup power, disaster management services and reliability that public safety needs, he said. “AT&T messaging is more about what is to come versus what is happening today,” he said. “They have had an opportunity to compete for this market since inception, yet Verizon has a majority of the market share. We like to do versus talk.”

Maiorana gave FirstNet credit for raising the stakes for companies to step up and address the public-safety market and said the FirstNet brand is “powerful.” Moving into 2018, Verizon officials will remind public-safety customers that even though a state opted in, there is no mandate to sign up for AT&T service. Verizon is aggressively communicating its commitment and capabilities for public safety through one-on-one meetings and symposiums with its public-safety customers around the country.

“Verizon has never been more committed to supporting our nation’s first responders and investing in our capabilities to help our first responders do their jobs,” Maiorana said.

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On 12/24/17, a ham said:
It's amazing that only New Hampshire had the balls to stand up to those thugs at AT&T. They are truly putting their money where their mouth is. There is enough info out there that shows FirstNet is already outdated before a single site gets deployed

That said I had to truly laugh out loud when I read a Verizon guy calling for competition. Apparently that only applies when their competition is another monopoly.

Totally ridiculous and I wouldn't trust either one. We'll all see who's right when it finally comes online.

On 12/23/17, Kevin Kerr said:
I really think AT&T has bitten the big one. When mother nature strikes her wrath of destruction, ALL carriers will feel her wrath. Look at Texas on the last Tropical storm...who had any CELL coverage...nobody.
It might be an advantage for AT&T and Verizon to get along in the sand box. Someday they might NEED each other's help to make things work for the REAL users of both systems and leave the state political hash to the states.

On 12/22/17, Jeff Lehman said:
Competition is almost always better. The U.S. is a huge country with vast swaths of sparsely populated wildland areas. If I were a jurisdiction in one of those areas I would be very leery of a single entity providing my service without any threat of competition or any redundant options.

Better to decide on standards and a robust system of pre-emption than spend a bunch of money on a single provider.

On 12/21/17, Troy said:
I can say from my perpective of visiting many of both Verizon and AT&T tower sites, Verizon by far has the most hardened tower sites. More choices and the free market are always best for users in the long run.

On 12/20/17, Bob said:
Sounds like the children are still fighting in the school yard.
Drop the gloves and give the USA a secure, safe system.

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