McGinnis, Sambar Tout AT&T Plans

ORLANDO – Kevin McGinnis, who represents the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) on the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) board, and Chris Sambar, senior vice president-FirstNet for AT&T, Inc., today defended the plan for building and running the nationwide public safety broadband network overseen by the First Responder Network Authority.

During a NPSTC meeting held in conjunction with the IWCE show here, Mr. McGinnis, who is also a member of the FirstNet board but stressed that he was not speaking for the FirstNet board or the NASEMSO board, defended the plan to deploy one nationwide network.

“What we won is what public safety asked for initially, which is one network,” he said. “We need to dedicate ourselves to moving that forward. … I think we’re doing well.” He did not mention by name Verizon Communications, Inc., which is offering a competing public safety offering, by name.

At NPSTC’s January meeting, Mr. McGinnis criticized Verizon, suggesting that the carrier’s public safety broadband offering service pales in comparison to the FirstNet plan being offered by AT&T and complaining about statements attributed to Verizon (TR Daily, Jan. 9).

Mr. Sambar, who also did not mention Verizon by name, said that in the past couple of days, “one of those other commercial carriers” has continued “to take shots at the FirstNet network.”

“They’re all calling it a monopoly now,” he added. “This is not AT&T’s network. … It’s public safety’s network.” He added, “We’re building what you’re asking us to build.”

He noted that FirstNet must certify everything deployed by AT&T.

He added that in areas with no coverage or weak coverage, AT&T will build thousands of new cell sites, some later this year but most next year. AT&T this week also said it plans to touch more than one-third of its existing cell sites this year to add Band 14, which it plans to deploy to 95% of the U.S. population over the next five years.

Mr. Sambar also emphasized that AT&T’s public safety core is “a dedicated, physically separate network for public safety,” adding that a “virtually separated” core, a reference to Verizon’s core, is different than “physically separate” one. Verizon has defended its core, which, like AT&T’s, is scheduled for completion by the end of this month.

Mr. Sambar also said that it’s taking more time than some public safety agencies would like to sign them up for service as AT&T checks their credentials and priority level.

Mr. Sambar was asked about the timing of deploying z-axis indoor location accuracy. He said he has met with five or six vendors but said “there’s major challenges with just about all of” the technologies, including their ability to be effective when the power in a building goes out.

He said AT&T likes the NextNav LLC solution, although it needs to be tested in a building that is on fire because it uses pressure in devices, and pressure changes in buildings on fire.

Also during today’s NPSTC meeting, Paul Patrick, the interim chair of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said PSAC’s early builder working group would be disbanded when its current task expires at the end of this month.

Also, David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, noted that the FCC plans to consider at its March 22 meeting a sixth further notice of proposed rulemaking in its 4.9 gigahertz band proceeding (TR Daily, March 1). He noted that a number of the proposals in the item came from NPSTC. He said that “perhaps towards the end of the year” the FCC will be “at the point where we can adopt final rules.”

Mr. Furth also noted that the FCC last month released a 700 megahertz band second report and order (TR Daily, Feb. 12), and he said that by NPSTC’s next meeting, there will hopefully be progress with the 800 MHz band interstitial channel item as well as further rebanding progress in the Mexico border region. NPSTC’s next meeting is scheduled for May 15 via teleconference. —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily