New Mexico Supports Interoperability Between FirstNet, Other Carriers
Friday, November 15, 2019 | Comments

The New Mexico Department of Information Technology (NMDoIT) filed an ex parte letter with the FCC saying that it strongly supports full interoperability between the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and other public-safety providers.

“To best serve the public during times of life-and-death emergencies, it is critical that all first responders in New Mexico have access to the same features and capabilities, regardless of the public-safety network to which they subscribe,” the letter said. “A more restrictive approach to ‘interoperability,’ as advocated by FirstNet/AT&T, will unnecessarily inhibit emergency communications between public-safety personnel on different networks and could endanger the public.”

NMDoIT said that FirstNet coverage is currently insufficient in many parts of the rural state and because of that, public-safety personnel may choose to use other public-safety networks. The department said that the priority and pre-emption between users on FirstNet and other networks need to be standardized, so a high-priority user on one network is not treated as just a commercial user on another network.

Last year, the Boulder Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) petitioned the FCC to issue a ruling that clarifies that full interoperability is a responsibility of FirstNet and to open a proceeding to develop appropriate interoperability standards. NMDoIT said that it supports that request.

“By developing a regulatory structure requiring full interoperability, the commission will be establishing a competitive environment for public-safety services in which FirstNet/AT&T will need to expand coverage in rural areas and compete on pricing to gain public-safety users as their customers,” the company said. “First responders in New Mexico and across the nation deserve no less.”

In September, the FCC requested comment on BRETSA’s request. A variety of public-safety organizations have filed comments supporting full interoperability between FirstNet and other carriers. AT&T and FirstNet have said they are providing interoperability as mandated in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which created FirstNet.

Learn more about the interoperability debate Monday, Nov. 18, during our “The Case for/Against Comprehensive Public-Safety LTE Interoperability” with The Digital Decision. Register for FREE here.

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