Public-safety representatives contest recent Verizon claims about its first-responder offerings

Recent statements attributed to Verizon in the media that the carrier’s broadband service is the only public-safety-grade LTE network and that its planned public-safety LTE core network may be interoperable with the FirstNet system “suggest things that are simply not there,” according to a presentation to the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC).

Kevin McGinnis—a FirstNet board member who said he was speaking as a member of the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) governing board when making comments about Verizon—described some of the recent Verizon assertions as “troubling references.”

Specifically, McGinnis cited a claim by Verizon in a prepared statement that was released on the Dec. 28 deadline day for governors to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions. In the statement, Verizon noted that its 2018 plans include “the introduction of products, services and other advanced technologies designed for first responders—all running on the country’s only public-safety-grade LTE network.”

NPSTC established the best practices and guidelines defining “public-safety-grade” communications systems in a report that was released in May 2014. Previous statements from Verizon stopped short of claiming that the carrier’s network actually meets the “public-safety-grade” definition, with one executive noting in a blog that the Verizon system “meets those guidelines in almost every aspect and actually exceeds many of them.”

As for the notion that the Verizon network is the “only public-safety-grade LTE network in the U.S., McGinnis said, “That is simply not true.”

Even more confusing to many in the public-safety community was an article this week indicating that Verizon “is working on an interconnection agreement with FirstNet and AT&T that would bring interoperability between the networks,” citing an interview with Mike Maiorana, senior vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions—Public Sector.

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