But Verizon officials have been outspoken during the past several months that the carrier plans to compete in an effort to maintain its position as the market leader for wireless broadband services used by the public-safety community. To this end, Verizon repeatedly has advocated that “opt-out” states should be able to serve public-safety users through their vendors’ own LTE core, not through the FirstNet core that will be operated by AT&T.

This point was emphasized in a letter from Don Brittingham—Verizon’s vice president of public-safety policy—that was submitted to a House subcommittee conducting a hearing about FirstNet.

“Critical to the viability of such an [‘opt-out’]option is the ability for a state to use its own core network, or one deployed by its preferred commercial partner,” Brittingham’s letter states. “States should not be required to use the core network deployed by FirstNet and its commercial partner, as such a requirement would have several negative implications.

“First, since the core network defines the service arrangement with the customer, being forced to use AT&T’s core network would effectively require that the state use AT&T to serve its public-safety users and prohibit them from using their preferred public-safety service provider.

“A requirement to use AT&T’s core network would also put the state in the untenable position of being driven by the interests and decisions of FirstNet’s commercial partner. For example, any changes to the core network made by AT&T would trigger corresponding changes to the radio access networks deployed by the state’s network partner. Any change that the state’s partner would wish to make to the state’s network would have to first be authorized by AT&T. These conditions are unlikely to be supported by any prospective state commercial partner.”

FirstNet’s position is that an “opt-out” state’s contractor would build the alternative RAN and would provide services to public-safety users, but the public-safety traffic would go through the FirstNet core, according to a FirstNet spokesperson.

Whether California will conduct an RFP for an alternative RAN remains unclear at this time. CalFRN board member had hoped to make an “opt-in/opt-out” recommendation to the governor during the Oct. 11 meeting, but they were uncomfortable with multiple aspects of each option and decided not to make a recommendation. The CalFRN board is expected to consider the topic again during a special meeting scheduled for Nov. 9.