Oklahoma Highway Patrol Enrolls in DHS Wireless Priority Service
Thursday, August 30, 2018 | Comments

Troopers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) have a new communications service that will help them in times of crisis. More than 750 troopers have enrolled their state-issued cellphones in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wireless Priority Service (WPS) program.

WPS provides first responders, government officials and other disaster response and recovery personnel with priority calling during times of network congestion. During natural disasters, large demonstrations or other events, cellular networks can quickly become congested or impaired. WPS provides priority calling on the connections between a first responder’s cell phone and the cell tower, and across the network to the person they are calling, even if that person doesn’t have a WPS-enabled phone. Although WPS does not disrupt calls in progress or prevent the public’s use of telecommunications networks, WPS does allow emergency personnel to make calls when others can’t because of network congestion.

Verizon worked with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety on a new public-safety rate plan that lowered its total cost for the plan, said Capt. Ronnie Hampton of the Futures, Capabilities and Plans Division at OHP. “We had always wanted our troopers to have WPS ever since we started our smartphone program, but for an account of our size, WPS was cost prohibitive until now,” Hampton said.

OHP has three telecommunications service providers — Verizon, AT&T and Pine Cellular. Verizon covers troopers assigned to most of the counties in the state, and therefore, now have WPS enabled on their cellphones. Only those troopers assigned to the three counties in the panhandle and three counties in the southeastern portion of the state use AT&T or Pine Cellular because of coverage conditions.

“Hopefully we will never have to use WPS, but it’s nice to know that we now have it if we need it,” Hampton said.

OHP is now beginning to train their staff on WPS procedures during their routine field training sessions for device upgrades.

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