Kansas joins first responder network

PM ET Nevada Joins First Net Team 15th state to sign on to state plan

PM ET Nevada Joins First Net Team 15th state to sign on to state plan

Though AT&T and FirstNet remain the default choice for public safety officials pursuing the next generation of emergency communications, Verizon is looking to give them a run for their money.

It also is expected to generate new apps and tools that fire, police, emergency medical and other first responders can use to improve their ability to save lives and protect those in need. "Support for public safety is in our company's DNA and our commitment to them never waivers". First Net is a wireless network that helps first responders communicate during a crisis, like the wildfires that swept through Central Kansas earlier this year. States have a legal right to opt out of FirstNet's service, but if they choose another service provider, the network must be interoperable with FirstNet's offering.

FirstNet and AT&T are using spectrum set aside for public safety under 2012 economic stimulus legislation.

Verizon Communications has unveiled plans to develop a first responder network that will compete with rival AT&T's FirstNet. "At no charge", features included on the network will include "priority access and preemption" - functionality that indicates users would have immediate access to service regardless of congestion on the commercial network. And in recent months, the carrier has launched a campaign highlighting its work with public safety officials across the country to draw in customers. "We will also make available multi-band devices that will provide access to Band 14 spectrum and enable full interoperability with any Band 14 radio access networks (RANs) deployed by FirstNet", said Verizon. AT&T was awarded the $6.5 billion federal contract in March and has already signed up a number of states.

However, in a statement to Wireless Week for that piece, AT&T's FirstNet SVP Chris Sambar said the carrier believes its solutions offer the best value, and remains hopeful states will continue to come on board with its FirstNet build plans.

"These services are unmatched and unique to public safety, and that is why we are seeing so much momentum with the FirstNet Network in the states and territories", said the spokesperson. "Two of those states explored alternative options through an RFP/RFI process in their state before deciding to join FirstNet". But first responders on FirstNet will have a preemptive claim on network capacity, even knocking others out of service if needed.

FirstNet hinted in an August 16 email to FCW that Verizon's plans might not be as effective as its own network, which it is building in consultation with public safety organizations.

Light Reading has asked Verizon if the public safety network will add to its capital expenditure bill for the year.

In its statement to FCW, AT&T said the company is "spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create a nationwide, dedicated FirstNet core just for public safety that will soon route and encrypt all FirstNet traffic, creating the highly secure environment public safety requires".

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