AT&T Selects Second MCPTT Provider, 3GPP-Compliant Service Planned this Year
Tuesday, January 08, 2019 | Comments
AT&T has completed its procurement for a second carrier-integrated mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) provider and plans to launch Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)-compliant MCPTT solutions in the second half of the year. The carrier, which operates the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nationwide public-safety broadband network, declined to name the second MCPTT vendor.

Last year, AT&T FirstNet Senior Vice President Chris Sambar said the carrier signed a product agreement with Motorola Solutions for its Kodiak carrier-integrated PTT product, along with the eventual MCPTT version of the Kodiak service. He said AT&T planned to have two carrier-integrated MCPTT options for FirstNet subscribers and would release a request for proposals (RFP) in 2018.

An AT&T spokeswoman confirmed the RFP is complete and the second vendor has been selected, allowing FirstNet subscribers to choose between two offerings. “As they become available, we’ll provide specific guidance to customers as to which solution may best fit their needs,” she said.

In the meantime, AT&T plans to launch the next iteration of its Enhanced PTT (EPTT) service soon. “This is a big deal because it’s the first version of EPTT that will include features based on 3GPP’s MCPTT standards,” the spokeswoman said. “It’s not MCPTT yet, but we’re getting there.”

Igor Glubochansky, an AT&T executive director, said new EPTT features for customers in public safety, utilities, transportation and energy will include clear calls with instant call setup on the AT&T LTE network or Wi-Fi, as well as on FirstNet, even in buildings. New emergency and imminent peril modes will help employees in distress or needing immediate assistance, he said in a November blog. New features also include refined situational awareness and location management, expanded group communications settings, more seamless interoperability with two-way radio systems and deployment support.

As the carrier standardizes on 3GPP MCPTT, it is working with long-standing partners, as well as new ones, on MCPTT services for FirstNet. One of the major benefits of the global standard is to be able to expand the ecosystem, the spokeswoman said.

Later this year, AT&T plans to introduce additional enhancements that will include 3GPP-compliant features and other key infrastructure enhancements that will be closer to meeting performance and compliance standards on more devices. The carrier expects to increase the service’s performance and resiliency and fully use the capabilities of the dedicated, physically separate FirstNet evolved packet core. By the second half of 2019, AT&T plans to have its solutions fully compliant with MCPTT global standards, the spokeswoman said.

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