Verizon Communications Inc. said it is building dedicated lanes at the core of its USA wireless network for firefighters and other first responders, a bid to compete with AT&T Inc.'s plans for its own public-safety network.
As Wireless Week reported last week, Verizon said in a recent filing with the FCC that it plans to "provide reliable and innovative public safety communications services to state and local governments irrespective of whether states choose to opt out of the FirstNet network".
While Verizon says competing for alternative vendor contracts in states considering an opt-out from the federal plan is not its "preferred path", this move would allow the company to offer similar services directly to public safety agencies.
"Fire, police and EMS put their lives on the line every time they put on a uniform", Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T - FirstNet, said in a prepared statement.
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To view the full article, register now. Although AT&T received a swath of valuable airwaves in addition to the government funds to develop FirstNet, individual USA states are still debating whether to join the project or build their own networks.
"Gov. Sandoval's decision to join FirstNet demonstrates his strong commitment to public safety", FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement.
The emergence of FirstNet in Kansas under AT&T's plan is expected to improve broadband coverage and service in rural areas and on tribal lands.
Kansas became the 13th state to opt-in under AT&T's FirstNet dedicated wireless broadband network for first responders.
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Last March, FirstNet awarded AT&T the $6.5 billion, 25-year contract to build the network and use the bandwidth for public safety and commercial applications. Verizon, instead, will rely on its existing spectrum holdings to support its alternative offering and will not use AT&T's spectrum, the Verizon spokesman confirmed. Verizon noted in today's press release, however, that it will make available multi-band devices that will be fully interoperable with radio access networks deployed by FirstNet.
The company declined to specify how much it would invest in the public safety network.
"FirstNet has consulted closely with public safety as a partner to develop this network". The network's services "are unmatched and unique to public safety".
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. But first responders on FirstNet will have a preemptive claim on network capacity, even knocking others out of service if needed.
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