Jeff Johnson, executive director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and a former First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board member, has reiterated his criticism of Verizon Communications, Inc., which is offering a competing public safety broadband offering.
In a column for “Mission Critical Communications,” Mr. Johnson said, “The claims by Verizon and its supporters that it is not realistic or practical for all first responders to use a single network ignores the vision of Congress and all of the major national public-safety organizations when they passed the law in 2012 that required building the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network. The vision was to have one network where all public-safety entities and personnel could interoperate with each other on a nationwide basis. Public-safety leaders did not support then, or now, a patchwork of network cores fragmented across multiple providers like Verizon is now advocating.”
Mr. Johnson continued that “Verizon, and its paid supporters, are trying to dismantle that vision by spinning misleading concerns about interoperability. They’d like you to think FirstNet is being built in a silo and that those of us on the FirstNet core won’t be able to communicate with first responders that choose to stay on consumer networks. That isn’t true. FirstNet is interoperable with other Long Term Evolution (LTE) and radio networks today. AT&T, the private-sector partner responsible for delivering FirstNet, is building the platform on open industry standards. FirstNet subscribers nationwide can talk, text and communicate with customers on all other consumer wireless networks, and vice versa, benefitting from cross-network interoperability every day.”- Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org