Verizon escalates interoperability battle with AT&T, FirstNet, others
Verizon’s Andres Irlando is officially putting AT&T, FirstNet and others in the public safety industry on notice: The interoperability fight is not over. Not by a long shot.
“We don’t have true interoperability,” said Irlando, who is in charge of Verizon’s “public sector” business, which includes sales of services to federal, state, public safety and education customers. “It’s time for the industry to come together and solve for true interoperability.”
Specifically, Irlando is calling for interoperability among Verizon, AT&T, FirstNet and others across a number of services that are specific to public-safety customers. Those services include priority and preemption (which ensures public safety users can access a connection amid network congestion); mutual-aid roaming (where public-safety customers would automatically switch to another nearby network if their primary connection is disabled); application interoperability (wherein features and functions specific to public-safety users work across all networks); and push-to-X interoperability (which includes everything from push to talk services to mission-critical video). Such interoperability would build on the interconnected design of telecom networks in general: After all, phone calls and text messages are already interoperable because they can be sent and received regardless of a customer’s network provider.
Irlando made clear that Verizon isn’t specifically targeting AT&T and FirstNet with the effort. However, much of the discussion has centered on AT&T and FirstNet given the traction the two have gained in the space.
War of words
In order to attain this “true” interoperability in the public sector, Irlando said he’s preparing to assemble a broad coalition of companies, customers, organizations and others around the issue. Irlando declined to provide any details about the effort, including any possible members of the coalition beyond vendor Mutualink, except to say he expects to launch the program sometime in the spring.
“The time has come,” he said.
Irlando’s media campaign on the issue – he also made the same comments to Urgent Communications, which is owned by the same company as Light Reading – builds on an article he wrote in October calling for “true” communications interoperability for first responders and other public-safety workers. “Verizon and other industry leaders must work together to make it a reality,” Irlando wrote. “We believe an industry-wide coalition is the best way to advance true interoperability, by making it a core design principle for networks, the latest devices and software solutions and applications for public safety.”
So what does AT&T have to say to all this? “Recently, there was confusion about enabling interoperability,” the operator wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. “But what others failed to share is that all traffic to a FirstNet device receives priority regardless of where it comes from (another FirstNet device, another provider, etc.). If commercial network providers don’t recognize and treat outside traffic coming into their public safety subscriber devices with that same level of priority, then that’s on them.”
To read the complete article, visit Light Reading.