SPOC Offers Practical Advice for Selecting Your Public-Safety LTE Service Provider
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 | Comments
Both AT&T and Verizon announced plans for their respective public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) cores this week. Public-safety agencies now have the task of deciding which broadband data service best suits their needs.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T launched the FirstNet evolved packet core (EPC), meeting the carrier’s goal to deliver the core by the end of March. FirstNet officials are still testing the core, and most of the more than 30,000 FirstNet customers will be moved to the core by May.

Separately, Verizon announced its public-safety dedicated private core will be available March 29. The carrier said the private core is the platform for expanded products and services designed to enhance Verizon’s LTE network for public safety.

On March 16, Joe Galvin, the Illinois statewide interoperability coordinator (SWIC) and FirstNet state single point of contact (SPOC), said in a letter to public-safety stakeholders that individual agencies must now decide what network provider to choose. The letter includes numerous helpful and practical considerations and points.

Agencies must ensure they will receive the required level of coverage in their jurisdictions and ask carriers to see in-building coverage maps. “In-building coverage is a more accurate representation of actual coverage public-safety users will normally experience with devices inside vehicles,” the letter said.

Galvin also suggested that agencies test the service in their areas and encouraged them to request demonstration devices from carriers to thoroughly test service, coverage and anything else that would affect their decision on the best carrier for their needs.

“Public-safety agencies in Illinois are in a strong position in this situation, as there are many carriers competing for their public-safety business,” the letter said. “In today’s competitive environment, negotiate hard to get the best possible cost for your agency.”

The letter also addresses LMR networks and their place in the LTE transition. Galvin said neither FirstNet nor any other carrier-based push-to-talk (PTT) service is a viable replacement for the mission-critical LMR two-way radios used by public safety today. “Although there are some applications for cellular PTT, they are not public safety grade,” he said. “Most experts in this area believe we are at least a decade away from being able to fully transition from LMR to cellular-based PTT networks.”

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On 3/28/18, Leon vander Linde said:
Something that just occurred to me. We are trying to discourage people from driving while talking on a cellphone. In the media and even people such as Oprah Winfrey are trying their utter best to stop people talking on their cellphone while driving.
Now Firstnet and the government are encouraging and actually telling people now to talk on cellphones while driving and don't tell me the new devices are not cellphones. Can we now assume that everybody will be allowed to talk and drive? Remember one thing what is good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander. Or are they going to include a Bluetooth handsfree kit with each LTE cellphone for the first responders or install car radios with Bluetooth facility in every first responder vehicle or Firstnet customer? Just remember you are now creating a very big monster. This could bite you in the back if you get very clever lawyers.
Unless they bring out a special law that exempts Firstnet customers from prosecution when driving and talking on a cell phone.

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