Verizon Defends Interoperability, Security of Public Safety Network

Verizon Communications, Inc., said today that the broadband service it is offering to first responders will be interoperable with the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system, even though its public safety core will not interconnect with the core maintained by AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner. Verizon also said that its network will be secure.

Verizon announced its plan last month, saying that it would offer priority service and preemption to public safety customers, and that it would build a dedicated public safety core (TR Daily, Aug. 15). “Verizon’s planned dedicated public safety network will complement the proposed FirstNet network and provide a robust communications solution for first responders across the country. It will also ensure they continue to have the right to choose their communications provider and to benefit from the continued innovation that comes from a competitive marketplace,” Michael Maiorana, senior vice president-public sector for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said in a LinkedIn posting today. “Central to delivering on that promise is providing public safety with communications networks that are interoperable and secure.

“Network interoperability is not a new or particularly difficult concept. Competing networks talk to each other and share vital data effectively and securely every day. Verizon already works with other carriers, including AT&T, to provide interoperable services across networks, with both carriers managing the security of the traffic back and forth,” Mr. Maiorana added. “Our planned public safety network will consist of a dedicated public safety network core operating in parallel to our commercial core – similar to AT&T’s planned FirstNet solution. Under our proposed solution, our core and AT&T’s core would not connect. Instead, both companies would provide transport services that deliver traffic to FirstNet’s data centers via IP backhaul. In addition to everyday voice and data services, first responders would also have access to FirstNet applications on both networks, as well as a second network to fall back on. Having two networks will provide unrivalled nationwide coverage, redundancy and reliability.”

FirstNet, AT&T, and others have raised concerns about interoperability and security issues with Verizon’s offering.

“Verizon provides a secure 4G LTE solution today to millions of public sector users nationwide – police officers, firefighters, EMTs and others have transmitted information safely and securely over our network for years. Our planned public safety network solution will provide that same level of security. Enabling access through two different dedicated public safety cores will in no way degrade the security of the solution,” Mr. Maiorana said.

“Providing multiple transport options at the application level – voice, video and PTT services, data applications, etc. – also does not inherently introduce security issues,” he said. “Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon provide seamless customer experiences regardless of broadband access type or provider. We will do the same. Networks working together to transmit voice calls and data is nothing new. Nor is building in multiple levels of security processes. Supporting public safety and providing reliable communications is critical to the safety of our communities.”

FirstNet and AT&T have said that only FirstNet system subscribers will have access to the FirstNet apps store that AT&T will run, and FirstNet has opposed suggestions that states that opt out should be able to build cores that can connect to the FirstNet core.

In response to a question about how Verizon public safety subscribers would have access to the FirstNet apps store, Verizon spokesman John O’Malley told TR Daily, “An open and interoperable applications environment for FirstNet should be agnostic with regard to application developer or network provider in order to ensure that the best apps are available to all public safety users. We assume that is a goal that FirstNet and the public safety community share.” He was also asked if Verizon was backtracking in saying that it would not need for its core to connect to FirstNet’s core to achieve interoperability.

“Connecting our public safety core to FirstNet’s core was never part of our planned solution,” he replied. “Interoperability doesn’t require the two cores to be directly connected. We seek to interconnect our networks to exchange traffic, but the cores themselves are not connected.”- Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily