Motorola LTE modem will roam across Verizon, FirstNet networks

The LTE network being crafted by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is not yet officially designed, but Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Motorola Solutions have collaborated on an in-vehicle modem for public safety that is designed to seamlessly roam between Verizon's LTE network as well as FirstNet's.

Motorola VML 700 interfaces

The VML 700 in-vehicle modem. (Image source: Motorola)

FirstNet is charged with building the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), a 700 MHz Band Class 14 network. The new VML 700 modem from Motorola Solutions is compatible with FirstNet's planned network as well as Verizon's commercial Band Class 13 LTE and CDMA EV-DO networks. The modem can also serve as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

The new modem came out of the Motorola Solutions-Verizon Wireless Alliance, a public-communications initiative the companies announced two years ago.

"The combination of advanced technical features, such as multi-network operation and roaming, support for LTE-based public safety broadband networks, and the reach and reliability of Verizon's 4G LTE network will provide first responders with the connectivity they need in coordinating activities on a local, regional and national level," said Rishi Bhaskar, vice president, private broadband sales, Motorola Solutions.

Seamless roaming between Verizon's commercial cellular network and the FirstNet network will be helpful during major, multijurisdictional incidents that might cause a communications overload on the public-safety LTE network, said Deep Grewal, senior director of business development for Motorola Solutions, in an Urgent Communications article.

The article noted the cross-network roaming will be conducted similar to the way smartphones currently roam between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

The new product announcement arrives at a sensitive time for Motorola Solutions, Verizon and FirstNet. Controversy has swirled around alleged lobbying tactics said to have been undertaken by Motorola Solutions in regard to FirstNet. Meanwhile, a special review committee is looking into numerous allegations regarding FirstNet's board, including what might be perceived as possible conflicts of interest and questionable ties to wireless operators.

Last month, FirstNet released 10 requests for information (RFIs). The RFIs concern the NPSBN's radio access network (RAN) and core network. FirstNet officials have stressed that they are still in a data-collection phase in preparation for creating the NPSBN ultimate design.

Meanwhile, the state of New Mexico is the latest jurisdiction to sign a spectrum lease agreement with FirstNet, following the lead of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS).

For more:
- see this joint release
- see this Urgent Communications article
- see this Advancing Telecom blog entry
- see this NTIA document (PDF)

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Motorola Solutions addresses FirstNet allegations, NTIA hands out $13.1M
FirstNet: Mississippi halts BTOP program, Motorola Solutions accused of unsavory lobbying
FirstNet releases 10 RFIs, prepares for state meetings
FirstNet appoints special review committee to investigate its practices
Mutiny at FirstNet as board member alleges improprieties
Sprint, Verizon, others argue for role in building FirstNet 700 MHz LTE network