AT&T this week announced the establishment of the FirstNet Dealer Program, which allows select dealers and solutions providers to sell FirstNet service to qualified public-safety entities.

“The FirstNet Dealer Program is a co-sell model that allows FirstNet Dealers to engage directly with public safety agencies to identify sales opportunities,” according to a prepared statement from AT&T in response to questions from IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “AT&T carefully selected companies that provide mobility solutions to the public safety community today and bring a high level of expertise in the public safety industry.

“We chose dealers and solution providers that have an established business selling mobility solutions with a focus on first responders/public safety. For instance, this includes companies that sell mission-critical voice and video solutions, cybersecurity and fraud detection, trunk mounted routers, fleet tracking multi-agency communication and collaboration solutions, etc., to public-safety agencies.”

AT&T said it would not identify any members of the FirstNet Dealer Program, but those businesses are free to announce their participation in the program. Panasonic today announced that it is joining the FirstNet Dealer Program.

Brian Rowley, vice president of marketing and product management for Panasonic System Solutions of North America, said that Panasonic has relationships with several wireless carriers—including AT&T, as a member of AT&T Alliance Channel program—to be able to sell broadband subscriptions in conjunction with products like the Toughbook rugged laptops.

“For us, [public safety] is such a key piece to our business that it was the right move for us to make,” Rowley said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “For us, it’s more to be able to … make sure that we help the customer with the complete solution—not only having the ability to provide them with the hardware and whatever software solutions around it, but also to take it to that next level and helping them complete the piece, which would be to have them get the connectivity that they need.”

Traditional land-mobile-radio (LMR) dealers are eligible to participate in the FirstNet Dealer Program—“in fact, the initial dealers we signed up were LMR dealers,” according to an AT&T prepared statement for IWCE’s Urgent Communications. Most dealers in the FirstNet Dealer Program do not have storefronts but rely on “a business-to-business strategy with outside sales teams,” according to the AT&T statement provided to IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

Dealers interested in the FirstNet Dealer Program can register to be considered for potential selection, according to an AT&T spokesperson. For more information, dealer should contact their channel managers or go to www.firstnet.com/dealer.

Whether LMR dealers should sell FirstNet services has been a subject of considerable debate within the public-safety community for years, even before AT&T was named as the contractor to build and maintain the NPSBN.

Those supporting the idea note that dealers could realize potential new revenue streams from existing public-safety customers, particularly if they have the expertise to help integrate FirstNet’s LTE communications with current LMR networks. Meanwhile, naysayers have argued that FirstNet sales could undermine dealers’ LMR businesses and/or potentially strain business relationships with LMR manufacturing partners.