AT&T this week announced its plan to deploy a nationwide Emergency Services IP network (ESInet) that meets the core networking standards that public-safety answering points (PSAPs) must have to transition to next-generation 911 (NG911) that will enable text, data, video and photo communications, as well as emergency voice calls.

Alan Benway, AT&T’s executive director of product market management, said the carrier’s ESInet offering will be designed to meet the i3 standards established by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) that are being used for IP-based core infrastructure that PSAPs will leverage for NG911.

“We’re launching a nationwide IP Emergency Services IP network [ESInet],” Benway said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “This is a bit different than our past approaches with ESInet. We’ve done a few deals in the past on a very localized approach, but this is the first time where we’re taking a very standardized, productized approach to it.

“So, we’re pre-building out the core infrastructure across the country. It will be built to AT&T specifications. It will comply with the latest i3 standards from NENA. We’re going to bundle it with our AT&T VPN network to deliver the connectivity to the PSAPs.”

AT&T’s ESInet offering will feature regional call-processing nodes that will be powered by call-processing technology from West—formerly known as Intrado—and regional aggregation centers, Benway said. These regional assets can handle more than twice the current 911 call volume in the U.S., and they can serve as backups to each other in case of an outage, he said.

“Now, we didn’t deploy that much capacity to handle twice the volume, but we architected the solution with a lot of resiliency and redundancy,” Benway said. “We think this is important, because as we look to productize this, the thing that really stood out to us that was critical was very high levels of reliability and resiliency. The best way to deliver very high levels of reliability is to have very high quality. And one of the key tenets of quality is to reduce unnecessary variations.

“As a service provider, that means we need to have a very standardized architecture and to standardize a lot of our operational processes. That’s very challenging, when you build to regional specifications and kind of a custom approach. We are going to be building this infrastructure out and rolling out this standardized offer to customers, and—over time—we’re going to be supplementing that with standard service-level agreements.”

Although AT&T’s long-term plan is to make its ESInet offering available nationwide, the company initially will focus on current PSAP customers in its 21-state territory during the second half of this year, Benway said.

“We’re initially focused on serving those customers that are using our selective routers today,” he said. “Then, we will bridge from that over time and start handling customers that were possibly served by others. But there’s more work that we need to do to reach out to those other local companies and work through the interconnection agreements for ESInet. We haven’t done that work just yet.”