Verizon Goes On The Attack

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 


6 Comments on "Verizon Goes On The Attack"

  1. Richard,
    While the opinion may correct and accurate, I would point out that ” All that information can be seen in the thousands of pages of public comments that were filed prior to the RFP release” does not truly identify what AT&T is being held accountable for, just what was discussed and requested by Public Safety. Hardening of sites is one simple example; requested, discussed, debated, but no one knows the accountability. The actual contract terms have not been shared to my knowledge.

    • Thank you for your comment and yes you are correct they have not shared the details. I understand that for competitive reasons they don’t want another carrier to see the contract for fear that carrier would undermine their efforts. I also believe in the FirstNet Board and staff that they have worked in our best interest. At some point I do think it is reasonable that certain aspect be shared with public safety such as site hardening.

    • The resent reply is from the author of the article, Richard Mirgon, and posted at his request.

  2. Unfortunately there are lines in this individual’s last paragraph that DOES support Verizon (or other carriers) to be allowed to interconnect to FirstNet. FirstNet SHOULD be about “shared services” and interoperability – a major goal of the 9/11 Commission. Maybe Mr. Mirgon needs to re-read his “over simplification” of the IP network that currently rides on “shared fiber”. Why should FirstNet be any different?

    • “If AT&T has not yet built out the FirstNet spectrum in an area, FirstNet subscribers in that area get priority on AT&T’s existing (commercial) wireless network. Customers of other carriers, however, will not be able to use the FirstNet RAN, according to AT&T.“
      They have stated they will not build out in rural areas. At 80% competed that is quite evident.

  3. At IWCE there were some fairly brutal attacks on Verizon from AT&T and its supporters/cheerleaders. The point-counterpoint was annoying and not helpful – or revealing of useful facts. Both companies need to crank it back, and listen to calmer professionals like Robert LeGrande. Both companies need to be more forthright with what they really provide, what they don’t provide quite yet, and both need to portray realistic timelines.

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