Rep. Eshoo Stresses Public-Safety Interoperability in Letter to NTIA, FirstNet
Thursday, January 18, 2018 | Comments

California Rep. Anna Eshoo asked the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to take steps to ensure interoperability between FirstNet’s network and other public-safety networks. She cited recent wildfires in rural California where local or regional carriers often offer service.

“As we witnessed with the wildfires, having only one set of cell sites as opposed to interoperability with multiple networks reduces the resiliency of the system,” said the Dec. 21 letter to NTIA head David Redl and FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “That was not our intent when we passed the legislation, and FirstNet must take steps to change that.”

Eshoo said interoperability and competition go hand in hand, and “interoperability of public-safety networks promotes competition in the public-safety communications marketplace to the benefit of all public-safety users and allows first responders to communicate effectively with one another during emergencies.”

During a November House hearing, Eshoo questioned an AT&T executive on coverage and fees included in draft spectrum manager lease agreements (SMLAs) sent to states before their opt in or out decisions were due. California was the last state to opt in to FirstNet, and officials made it clear the state was not satisfied with its state plan. A letter from California Office of Emergency Services (OES) Director Mark Ghilarducci cited interoperability as an area in which it expects additional progress.

Eshoo’s letter to NTIA and FirstNet is here.

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