Verizon has made preemptive access “available” across its network for public-safety customers and demonstrated that it works during this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade in California, but the preemption functionality is being “enabled” only on a limited basis in other parts of the country, according to a Verizon spokesperson.

“We have made preemption available on our network,” the Verizon spokesperson stated today in an e-mail to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “In fact, we successfully enabled the functionality for the [Los Angeles County Fire Department] during the Rose Parade. They didn’t have to actually use it, because our local network was able to handle the traffic on it during the parade, but they tested several functionalities, and they all performed well.” 

When asked whether preemption is being offered to all Verizon public-safety users and whether first responders would have to pay an additional fee for preemption, the Verizon spokesperson provided the following clarification:

“[Preemption is] available, but enabling it is a fairly complex process that requires coordination with the public-safety customer and our network-infrastructure providers,” according to the follow-up e-mail to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We'll be rolling it out in other areas with those individual customers in the coming months. And there is no additional charge for the service.

Verizon remains on track to have its public-safety LTE core network operational during the first quarter of this year, according to the Verizon spokesperson. AT&T is scheduled to have its FirstNet public-safety LTE core network begin operating in March.

Verizon provided the explanation about its preemption efforts in response to numerous inquiries on the matter from IWCE’s Urgent Communications during the past several weeks.

In August, Verizon announced plans to build a dedicated public-safety network core in 2018 and to provide first-responder users with priority and preemptive access to its network on a similar timeline as AT&T, which announced “ruthless preemption” functionality across its network for “primary” public-safety FirstNet subscribers on Dec. 12. On the same day, Verizon reiterated its commitment to provide preemption to public-safety customers and public-safety support services by the end of 2017.

When told of Verizon distinguishing between preemption being “available” and the functionality being “enabled,” AT&T sources confirmed that the preemption service being provided to FirstNet “primary” public-safety subscribers fits into the “enabled” category and is available nationwide.

“There is no substitution for FirstNet or the advanced, mission-critical capabilities it will enable,” according to an AT&T statement e-mailed to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “With FirstNet, first-responder subscribers nationwide get access to priority and preemption 24/7/365, giving them an always-on connection to the information they need, when they need it. Every day. Around the clock. No matter where the emergency is happening. When you have a solution built with and for first responders, you can be confident that it’s a solution they can count on.”