A Verizon recommendation you might have missed, one FirstNet public safety core

By Richard Mirgon, Public Safety Consultant

Everyone who follows me here on allthingfirstnet.com knows I have been hard on Verizon, but at the end of the day they make it too easy. I will say they seem to have moved from the “yapping yard dog” to directly attacking FirstNet (which they failed to realize public safety is FirstNet and attacking FirstNet is attacking public safety) to a theme of quiet dissemination of misleading information. The reality is they are inconsistent and misleading public safety. Here is the best example.

When FirstNet was collecting information and doing their research into how the network should be built, FirstNet went through a very specific and open process where they collected information from public safety, the private sector and other interested parties. As most us know this is called an NOI or Notice of Inquiry. During this time dozens of people and companies filed comments in response to the NOI. Verizon was one such company. Here is where it gets interesting. If you look at many of the comments by Verizon you will see their statements saying that there should be multiple cores and that it is good for public safety because it gives public safety choices. Well, the fact is multiple cores will compromise public safety security and Verizon says so.

On November 9th, 2012 Verizon responded to Docket No. 12092850-2505-01 and in that filing very specifically said “While FirstNet may benefit from sharing some infrastructure, it should not share core network components, i.e., the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Evolved Packet Core (EPC), as doing so would undermine its ability to provide secure, high priority communications for first responders.” Additionally in September of 2012 Verizon issued a whitepaper titled “Verizon Recommendation to FirstNet” stating “Verizon believes it is important that FirstNet oversees the construction and operation of a single, logical national IMS core and EPC that is built with a sufficient level of redundancy and geographic diversity to promote network resiliency during times of stress or during regional disasters when local outages may occur.” So, they not only make the point in one document, they thought it was important enough to site it in multiple documents.

It would appear to me that once again Verizon is shaping their corporate dialog to whatever they need to confuse the issue and maintain their public safety customers. It would also appear based on their statements they are doing this without regard for the security of the public safety network.

In a recent “Get The Facts” document Verizon has distributed, they talk about myths of interoperability and make the following statement in relationship to interoperability. “A measure of network and service interoperability exists today because of open standards. Your voice calls, text messages and public apps currently work on or between both networks, so your important communications will still get through.” The key word here is a “measure” clearly meaning only some of those functions. Yes we can call, text and send data between networks by different carriers but public safety isn’t about those limited functions. It’s about what we call “mission critical applications”. When would Verizon expect you to learn what applications and functions work between mutual aid agencies? How would they propose this process work? And how many peoples safety are they putting at risk when this happens? As I have said before, first responders must have full interagency, and interdisciplinary interoperability 24/7.

Once again Verizon is hedging the verbiage, changing their position and offering a solution that is only marginally comparable to the service required by FirstNet users.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this company or any company with whom the author may be associated.

Richard Mirgon is a Public Safety consultant focused on FirstNet. He is a Past President of APCO International and has over 35 years of public safety and first responder experience. For more information about the author please go to http://www.next-paradigm.com/about/

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