Qualifying customers for public-safety services on the Verizon network will be identified based on their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, according to a Verizon spokesperson.

“We will work with customers to enable preemption services for them on request and provide the level of customer service they have come to expect from Verizon,” according to an e-mail from the Verizon spokesperson to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “This is not a DIY [do-it-yourself] project for our public-safety clients.”

Public-safety data traffic is “immediately recognized” and separated from commercial traffic at the cell site and remains separate throughout the network, according to the Verizon spokesperson. Although priority and preemption are provided technically for only data traffic, it should be noted that these capabilities are available for all public-safety applications, including push-to-talk applications, according to the Verizon spokesperson.

Verizon currently is acknowledged as the market-share leader in providing broadband services to public-safety agencies.

“The basic premise of our value proposition is that Verizon has the best network coverage and performance across the country, as proven by RootMetrics, J.D. Power and others,” Maiorana said. “We’ve been serving this customer for decades, because we’ve been able to prove to them that we have the network they can trust.

“We are doing a lot to fortify and keep that network reliable and sustainable. Also, we respond with a lot of urgency, if and when they need help.”

What remains in question is whether public-safety agencies that continue to subscribe to Verizon broadband services will be able to interoperate seamlessly and securely with agencies that subscribe to FirstNet, including recognition of priority and preemption rights. Verizon believes that such interoperability is “technically possible” and should be pursued, Maiorana said.

“We’re still advocating for interoperability across different networks—voice, text video—and we believe that interoperability for first responders is critical, regarding consistent prioritization levels, user authentication, security protections, and certainly access to an open and non-proprietary app ecosystem,” Maiorana said. “We know that interoperability has been a challenge for traditional public-safety LMR system and that it’s easily supported today from a technical standard for traditional voice calls, texting and e-mailing.

“But now we believe commercial services are available that allow interoperable communications to be a reality. With Verizon’s coverage advantage and our customer base, we believe we can certainly accelerate the promise of FirstNet, if and when we’re able to truly have meaningful dialogue around interoperability.”

When asked whether such interoperability discussions have begun to date, Maiorana said, “No.”