AT&T Pleased with Withdrawal of Colorado Interoperability Plea

AT&T, Inc., said today it is pleased that the state of Colorado recently withdrew a request for the FCC to clarify guidelines and requirements concerning interoperability and roaming between the nationwide public safety broadband network being built by AT&T, Inc., for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and wireless carriers (TR Daily, July 16).

In a blog posting today, Joan Marsh, executive vice president-regulatory & state external affairs for AT&T, said the interoperability and roaming issues “have been clearly addressed. But as FirstNet builds momentum, it may be worth remembering Congress’ vision for our nation’s first dedicated public safety network.”

“Public safety urged the creation of a single, dedicated network after emergencies such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the existing patchwork public safety communications network was inadequate. Congress responded by creating FirstNet, which would be built with a ‘single, national network architecture’ consisting of a ‘core network’ and a ‘radio access network.’ This network design was deliberate, ensuring reliable, secure communications for first responders across agencies and jurisdictions, while also allowing first responders to reach any caller anywhere,” Ms. Marsh said.

“Notwithstanding Congress’ clear direction, some want to expose FirstNet’s highly-secure core to other network cores, creating more potential points of failure that undermine reliability and security,” she added. “Some even suggest exposing FirstNet to ‘virtual’ public safety cores that share physical elements with commercial networks. This is a bad idea because unforeseen security threats (e.g., denial of service attacks) or routine maintenance gone awry (e.g., hardware and firmware updates) on a commercial core could affect any virtual public safety core that shares system resources.

“Importantly, FirstNet’s ‘single, national network architecture’ does not undermine interoperability with other networks because FirstNet is being built on open industry standards – the same industry standards that commercial networks are built on,” Ms. Marsh added. “This means that FirstNet subscribers will be able to call, text and email customers on other networks and vice versa, just as they can today.

First responders already face enough risk in the field. There is simply no legal or policy basis to compromise their secure communications platform with approaches they don’t want or need, and that run contrary to the FirstNet mandate.”

Verizon Communications, Inc., which has developed a virtual public safety core and is also offering priority and preemption to public safety agencies, had expressed support for the Colorado filing (TR Daily, July 12). —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily