Southern Linc, Mississippi Ask FCC to Address Public-Safety LTE Interoperability
Friday, March 15, 2019 | Comments

A regional carrier and public-safety group sent letters of support for the 2018 petition from a Colorado group asking the FCC to address Long Term Evolution (LTE) interoperability among commercial carriers.

The Boulder Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) asked the FCC to reconsider its October 2018 order dismissing a request for clarification on commercial carrier interoperability filed by the Colorado Public Safety Broadband Governing Body (CPSBGB) in July.

Southern Linc, an Atlanta-based regional wireless carrier, said in a March 11 letter that it supports the BRETSA request that the FCC reconsider its decision not to issue a declaratory ruling or notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to ensure that the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) supports interoperability at all levels, including for roaming arrangements.

Southern Linc offers mission-critical services, including push-to-talk (PTT), voice and data services, throughout its service areas. “Without clear interoperability standards imposed on AT&T and FirstNet, first responders will be unable to securely and directly communicate with other jurisdictions in the way they expect, and as is currently available on many existing, interoperable statewide land mobile radio networks,” the carrier said. “This very predictable scenario will leave first responders worse off under FirstNet than under the status quo.”

The carrier said large-scale events like Hurricane Michael require an immediate response by and coordination among multiple public-safety agencies and emergency first responders from multiple jurisdictions. The ability of these agencies to communicate and exchange information between applications, databases and systems when responding to emergencies will save lives and property and protect first responders and the community.

The Southern Linc ex parte letter is here.

A Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission (MWCC) Dec. 6 letter also asked the FCC to place the interoperability issues raised by BRETSA on public notice and seek comment.

“The state of Mississippi has multiple carriers, which provide wireless services to public safety, which includes C Spire, AT&T FirstNet and Verizon,” the letter said. “In fact, Mississippi has master cellular agreements with both C Spire and AT&T to provide wireless services to both state and local government, which includes public-safety customers. These carriers offer comparable public-safety services including priority while utilizing the same or similar dedicated network configurations. As a result, each network is likely to serve a significant number of public-safety customers. Given that communications between these different networks are likely, especially during an event where you have multiple jurisdictions responding to an incident requiring full interoperability between the two networks. Thus, the need for interoperability increases as public safety uses other commercial networks for its communications.”

The letter, signed by MWCC Executive Officer Vicki Helfrich, said standards or agreements between FirstNet and commercial carriers should be put in place to ensure prioritized interoperability for public-safety applications, citing the communications failures during 9/11.

Last year, FirstNet and AT&T executives criticized the July 6 CPSBGB filing on public-safety interoperability in emails to officials in the Governor’s Office, and an AT&T executive suggested collusion between a Colorado state official and Verizon, according to emails obtained from a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request.

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