Verizon Exec Says Company Is Ready and Willing for Data Interoperability
Thursday, August 22, 2019 | Comments

A Verizon executive said that the lack of data interoperability between carriers is an issue of policy and not technology, and the company is ready to work with its competitors to ensure interoperability happens.

“The technologies exist, but the policies do not match, and we need to get there,” said Mike Maiorana, senior vice president, public sector for Verizon.

Maiorana said that a person using Verizon service can easily contact a user on another service, such as AT&T, through text or voice communications but cannot do so through data services such as applications, mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT), and priority and pre-emption.

“It is possible,” Maiorana said. “We just need smart engineers with the commitment to sit down and get it done.”

In July, the commonwealth of Massachusetts announced that it authorized both Verizon and FirstNet, Built with AT&T to offer wireless data services to public-safety agencies through the state’s public safety grade wireless data agreement. Interoperability was a requirement of that contract. At the time, a Verizon executive said the contract was the first multivendor public-safety wireless data contract the carrier had seen.

An AT&T executive said Verizon had a sole-source contract with Massachusetts for wireless service before it signed the 2019 contract, which added FirstNet Built with AT&T service as an option for the state. A Verizon spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question about the sole-source contact.

Maiorana said he has heard several other states discuss requiring interoperability, but Massachusetts is so far the only state that has formally required it. Maiorana said he hopes that other states will follow Massachusetts’ lead.

“There will never be a time when everyone uses one carrier or another,” he said. “I commend Massachusetts for understanding how crucial [interoperability] is and putting it out there in a procurement.”

Maiorana said Verizon has a long relationship with public safety and is continuing to provide the support that public-safety agencies need. As with its competitors, the company is preparing to support first responders during the coming hurricane season. The carrier has deployable assets available and ready to go in a variety of markets, as well as response teams ready to support communications, Maiorana said.

“We know how important a signal is, and our first responders depend on that,” he said. “We have a substantial number [of assets] ready to go and prepared.”

Verizon has been competing with the AT&T First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network with its Responder Core dedicated public-safety core. Maiorana declined to provide subscriber numbers but pointed to the company’s recently released second-quarter financials and said the company’s public sector business continues to grow with increases in both subscribers and revenues.

Verizon’s recently released financials for the second quarter of 2019 show that revenues for the public sector business were $1.492 billion, compared with $1.437 billion in the previous year’s quarter, which is about a 4% increase. The financials do not disclose subscriber numbers.

While competition in the public-safety segment continues to grow, customers are still drawn to Verizon because the company has been serving the segment for so long, and it provides coverage in crucial areas for first responders that other companies do not, Maiorana said.

“We’ve been there for the longest time, and we have that relationship,” he said.

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