Hold Commercial Carriers Accountable
Monday, September 24, 2018 | Comments

A couple of interesting stories topped our news coverage recently, and both were related to commercial carriers. The first involved First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T executives pressuring state officials in Colorado regarding an interoperability filing with the FCC. The second covered Verizon throttling data used by the Santa Clara (California) Fire Department during its efforts to fight wildfires in the area.

Although different issues, public-safety officials can draw parallels in both cases. The first is not to let a commercial carrier take advantage of you, whether that means continuing to ask hard questions of your carrier or demanding what you need in an emergency.

Many in the industry are saying that public safety asked for FirstNet and the spectrum and public-private partnership that came with it, so sign up for service to reap the benefits. This is true, but many responsibilities come with that partnership, including coverage and interoperability during emergencies. If FirstNet doesn’t deliver those things, demand them or don’t sign up for service.

And when you do sign up for service from any carrier, make sure you know the details of your plan and what is included. Make sure you know what devices are on your plan and ensure no one modem or router is using all the data on a pooled plan. Request push-to-talk (PTT) service if you need it. Know the ins and outs of your service and designate a contact with all necessary information to handle any problems that arise.

Hold commercial carriers accountable and be educated about what you require and what exactly you’re getting from your plan. As the industry and technology evolve, so too must public safety’s role in ensuring commercial networks deliver what they promise and what you need. After all, public-safety communications officials are ultimately responsible for the networks they use.

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Comments
On 9/27/18, Bill Malone said:
Excellent timely article. The idea that a federally appointed board would actually represent rank-and-file responders before industry and politicians is absurd. True, the voices of senior and generally reputable public safety and talking heads consultants pushed for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for their own agendas. However, I have no doubt the avearge rank-and-file responders knew little to nothing of FirstNet before it was cut and dried. FirstNet was the staging grounds for vested interests long before the actual responders were dialed in. The award to AT&T came from a narrow focus group. Then AT&T adopted an attitude of entitlement because said narrow group and all that came with it cut them a deal. Competition needs to thrive even for a big company that lobbied and good old boyed the way in.

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