By Richard Mirgon, Public Safety Consultant
Last week was the IWCE Expo in Orlando and there was a lot to see and a lot of good discussion on technology. It was very interesting to hear how Verizon has changed their posturing. They have now gone from claiming to be building a comparable network to a posture of attacking FirstNet. Their talking points were clearly pre-briefed as all the Verizon representatives, along with their consultants, used the same words. That is, FirstNet is a “monopoly” and it is nothing more than a “commercial network”. This is something that I should have expected. Back in 2012 I was told by a Verizon insider that Verizon wouldn’t compete to be the FirstNet vendor and that if they didn’t like what the outcome was they would undermine the project whatever it turned out to be. Well that appears to be their current direction. However they forgot one thing and that is who they are attacking.
Their attack is on you the first responder community. Let’s be very clear, FirstNet is public safety. The law is clear that the spectrum and funding is for public safety. FirstNet has an independent board of directors with key public safety, state and local government representatives that control and manage FirstNet on behalf of our nation’s first responders. The law requires a single nationwide network which is what is being built today by the selected vendor. That vendor had to compete for the project and meet all the public safety requirements in the RFP that public safety asked for. All that information can be seen in the thousands of pages of public comments that were filed prior to the RFP release. Bottom line is FirstNet is you, the first responders, protecting everyone in all our states and territories. An attack on FirstNet is an attack on public safety.
Now a little bit on the issue of “monopoly” and “commercial network”. First off it is not a monopoly. This is a custom build network using public safety allocated spectrum and federal tax dollars being sustained by public safety user fees. It is no different than each city, county or state bidding and awarding the buildout of an LMR network. No one is required to buy service as there are other options to communicate such has P25. As for the “commercial network” issue that is a simple lie. Decades ago a dedicated network was when you owned the copper. Technology has changed. Every IP packet from every “dedicated” network is riding shared fiber. In today’s IP world you create secure dedicated networks by managing the physical and logical layers of the network with a dedicated core. Now I realize that is an over simplification, but the fact is it is not a “commercial network”. Even today when you store data on your dedicated cloud account it resides and routes via shared services. It is dedicated due to the network provisioning. The fact is that the use of those statements is being intellectually dishonest.
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 https://www.next-paradigm.com/about/