Verizon: Keep commercial traffic off of the public-safety LTE network

The public-safety community should focus its nationwide LTE network-building efforts on providing broadband data for first responders rather than duplicating carriers' existing offerings for the private sector, according to a Verizon (NYSE:VZ) executive.

Citing ongoing discussions among industry players regarding what the new 700 MHz public-safety LTE network could do besides serving first responders, Don Brittingham, Verizon's vice president of national-security and public-safety policy, said he hopes those responsible for building the network first address "what the needs are for law enforcement, the fire services, for EMS and for those first responders that need effective communications."

Urgent Communications reported Brittingham's comments, which were made during the opening session of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) show in Minneapolis.

He said the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which will establish the nationwide wireless broadband network, should ensure the system core will be used only for first-responder transmissions even if the spectrum and radio-access-network assets are sometimes shared with commercial entities. "There needs to be a clear separation between the first-responder traffic and the commercial traffic. In our view, commercial traffic should go to a commercial port operated by a carrier," Brittingham said.

At the same event, Stacey Black of AT&T (NYSE:T) Public Safety Solutions told attendees not to expect LTE to solve all of their public-safety communications needs. For example, Black noted that LTE technology is not currently suitable for mission-critical push-to-talk communications that require zero latency.

Also at the APCO event, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank appointed 12 new members to the 15-person FirstNet board of directors. The board has three permanent members: the secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. attorney general and the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Newly appointed FirstNet chairman of the board is Sam Ginn, a telecommunications industry veteran who was chairman and CEO of AirTouch Communications from December 1993 until its merger with Vodafone Group in June 1999, at which time he became chairman of Vodafone AirTouch until May 2000.

The other newly named board members are: Tim Bryan, CEO, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative; Charles Dowd, deputy chief, New York City Police Department; F. Craig Farrill, wireless telecommunications executive; Paul Fitzgerald, sheriff, Story County, Iowa; Jeffrey Johnson, CEO, Western Fire Chiefs Association; William Keever, retired telecommunications executive; Kevin McGinnis, CEO, North East Mobile Health Services; Ed Reynolds, retired telecommunications executive; Susan Swenson, telecommunications/technology executive; Teri Takai, government information technology expert and former CIO for the states of Michigan and California; and former Denver mayor Wellington Webb.

Congress allocated $7 billion from future spectrum auction proceeds towards deployment of the nationwide network and also committed $135 million for a new state and local implementation grant program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to support state, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions' planning work with FirstNet.

For more:
- see this Urgent Communications article
- see this Commerce Department release

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