Interoperability: “We’ve committed to FirstNet that we don’t want any proprietary solutions on our platform. We want to build a platform solution that’s agnostic to different application developers that all work together seamlessly. Having a single nationwide core—and, hopefully, a radio access network [if all states and territories make ‘opt-in’ decisions]—allows you to have different agencies talking together, whether they are federal, state, county or whoever’s interacting with each other. Interoperability is really significant.

“Our commitment has been FirstNet-to-FirstNet [interoperability] and FirstNet-to-LMR. With the LMR solutions, it’s not simple to get interoperability, as you know. Push to talk over LMR is not easy, but Motorola is one of our core teammates, and they’re experts at LMR and experts at interoperability. So, if anybody’s got a great shot at getting that right, we think it’s the team of AT&T and Motorola.”

When asked whether FirstNet would support interoperate only with LMR networks operating on the P25 standard, Sambar said that AT&T’s commitment is broader than that.

“We will do our best for any LMR,” he said. “P25 will be easier, because that’s the latest, and it’s the one that’s in standards. Otherwise, we’re going to have to cobble together individual solutions, and we’ll do our best [to address those situations].

“P25 should be a slam dunk, and that’s the majority of what’s out there.”

In-building coverage: Instead of depending on signals from macro cell sites to penetrate the walls of buildings and other structures—an increasingly difficult proposition as energy-efficient window significantly degrade or block wireless transmissions—AT&T has more than 6,000 distributed antenna systems (DAS) to deliver in-building coverage, according to Sambar.

“As long as it’s an LTE DAS—and the vast majority of them are—it absolutely will have priority and preemption,” he said. “We’re making all of that available to public safety.

“And there will be more [DAS deployments] to come. No carrier covers every single building inside, especially buildings with basements. We’ll keep building them out as agencies request them. Actually, during the state-plan negotiations, that’s some of negotiations. They saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got this office building with low E glass on it,’ … and we’re saying, ‘OK, we’ll cover those.’ So, we’re negotiating with the states and covering the areas that need covering.”

In addition, such capabilities will be enhanced by an FCC mandate requiring carriers to deploy significant in-building assets to meet the agency’s new 911 location-accuracy requirements in top markets, Sambar said.

“Anything that we’re going to put in a building that’s going to help with any other requirement is going to help public safety,” he said.