By Richard Mirgon, Public Safety Consultant
By now everyone (to include the British since the story ran on BBC) knows that Verizon will, can and does throttle public safety users. This is not the first time. I have been hearing from friends in Georgia that have been throttled by Verizon in the recent path so I suspect it is happening elsewhere. We know that this problem along with many others can happen on commercial carriers because we have seen it for over 20 years. For years we in public safety fought to change this with the commercial carriers and they simply wouldn’t change the processes for public safety. Over ten years ago a number of us knew there was only one solution and that solution was to have our own public safety network and that became reality with FirstNet.
Let me be very specific about how and why FirstNet is different.
FirstNet is Public Safety. A governing board made up of public safety officials, like you, with industry experts being advised by a large public safety advisory board known as the PSAC with very broad public safety membership.
FirstNet has contracted with AT&T to build a specific mission critical public safety network using spectrum owned by public safety via licensing to FirstNet. Your spectrum, your network.
FirstNet has public safety dedicated call centers to help when needed. Many of whom have received public safety specific training and some of that training is provided by 30 year public safety veterans who I personally know and respect.
FirstNet is building a robust “Local Control” portal which public safety asked for. This is a portal where users have real-time visibility into the network, can make changes to their own user plans and most of all set or change priority levels as needed.
FirstNet does not throttle. Senior Vice President, Chris Sambar has stated this several times and his message has been clear. It won’t happen on FirstNet, your network. The best Verizon has said is that they “have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations.” Just one more thing Verizon is doing to make it your problem. When and if you have the time to make the call, you need to find the account number, find the pin, know the password. Just what a first responder doesn’t need to do during an emergency.
These are just a few of the key elements of FirstNet and these are things Verizon won’t ever do for public safety. Read Verizon’s fine print and listen to how they make their statements. They say priority when you need it. Is it on all the time, who controls it, do you? No, they do. When you need help who do you call? Do they have a call center dedicated to public safety and if they did would they guarantee it for the next 20 years? FirstNet does. Who is training the agents at Verizon’s call centers? FirstNet call centers get FirstNet public safety specific training.
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/