FirstNet or SecondNet? The Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2012 in the section known as Title VI created FirstNet and set out the rules for building a nationwide public safety broadband network and a public-private partnership in order to build the In 2012, Congress passed and the then President of the United States signed into law the Middle-Class network using mostly private rather than federal funding. After five long years, FirstNet issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) and three companies submitted proposals (Verizon Wireless was not one of these). After much deliberation and after two of the three companies were disqualified, the contract was awarded to AT&T.
This past week, Verizon came out of hibernation and declared it will also be building out a nationwide public safety broadband network with all the elements of a network with access to the FirstNet spectrum known as Band 14 (or as some old timers call it, the D Block) which is licensed by the FCC to FirstNet. This new Verizon “Public Safety Grade” network will include pre-emption for first responders on the Verizon LTE network and a Public Safety Evolved Packet Core (EPC) that will be separate from the current Verizon back-end system.
So now we have the approved FirstNet partnership with AT&T moving forward and the sleeping giant has suddenly awakened, looked around, and raised its hand. I have to say that as an early proponent of a nationwide a public safety broadband network that will provide full interoperability between all agencies regardless of where they are in the United States or its territories, I was really surprised and dismayed at Verizon’s attempt to hang on to a few million subscribers out of the 146 million it reported in April of this year, and its apparent lack of concern for creating more, not less, interoperability issues and challenges.
This is especially when Verizon could not be bothered to bid on the FirstNet RFP, stating publicly at the time that it had little interest in low-band spectrum either with the 600-MHz auction or the FirstNet spectrum since it believed spectrum higher in frequency would be more useful for small cell or 5G technology, on which it seemed to be betting the farm. Read the Full Blog Here Continue reading