AT&T CFO: FirstNet’s prioritized service for public safety ‘a challenge’ to net neutrality


Mike Dano
Fierce Wireless

During an appearance this morning at an investor event, AT&T’s CFO pointed out that FirstNet’s pre-emption requirements for public safety users present “a challenge with the net neutrality process because you are giving prioritized service to police, firefighters.”

“But quite frankly I think everyone would agree that that’s probably a good thing,” explained John Stephens, AT&T’s SVP and CFO. “It’s just one of the uniquenesses of some of the other arguments that we have to deal with.”

When questioned about the topic further, Stephens said that net neutrality proponents didn’t really take FirstNet’s public-safety pre-emption requirements into account when drafting net neutrality guidelines.

“We have the ability today to give [FirstNet public-safety users] preferential treatment. What we’ll have by the end of the year is what we call ‘relentless pre-emption,’ such that if there’s capacity for 10 calls and 10 calls are being used, and a firefighter gets on, one of the 10 people gets booted off and the firefighter gets in,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t think they thought about it [when crafting net neutrality guidelines]. The FirstNet process has been around since 9/11. It came out of the 9/11 events, and so that had been out there for a long time, and so I don’t even think it was even considered.”


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