Verizon recently announced plans to build a dedicated network core for the public safety sector. In a press release, Verizon said it’s reaffirming its decades-long commitment to public safety. The company plans to make substantial investments in new network capabilities, as well as expanded products and services, to enhance its industry-leading 4G LTE network for public safety.
“We want to tell our public safety customers that we’re here to stay and that we’ll be making investments in public safety to help them do their job,” said Michael Maiorana, senior vice president, Public Sector for Verizon, in an interview with 21st Century State & Local. “Our commitment to public safety has never wavered. We recognize they’re a special group that requires special attention. We’ve done that for many years and we are enhancing that through the recent investments.”
The announcement comes four months after FirstNet selected AT&T to build and manage its broadband network dedicated for public safety. However, according to Verizon’s press release, Verizon’s public safety network solution does not require that states opt-out of FirstNet. Additionally, Verizon said it will make available multi-band devices that will provide access to Band 14 spectrum and enable full interoperability with any Band 14 radio access networks deployed by FirstNet.
“We are not encouraging our customers to opt-out, although we are working with customers as specific customers have specific needs and want to pursue opt-out,” Maiorana said. “We believe that interoperability, redundancy, and choice is very important to this customer segment. We see meaningful opportunity to work with FirstNet to serve its customer base across the country. Though, there’s still work that needs to be done with FirstNet to enable this.”
Verizon said it’s responding to public safety customer requests with the new investments and upgrades. The company expects to build and operate its own private network core dedicated to public safety communications, make priority access and preemption services available to public safety when necessary and at no charge, and invest in new mission-critical 4G LTE voice communications to complement existing services. The company also notes that the new dedicated network core will operate separately from Verizon’s commercial core. First responders will have access to Verizon’s 2.4 million square mile 4G LTE network.
In terms of a timeline, Maiorana expects everything to be up and running in 2018. He said priority access is already deployed, preemption should be ready by the end of 2017, and that Verizon expects to have the dedicated public safety core by 2018.
While Verizon hasn’t released pricing information publicly, Maiorana did say that Verizon’s pricing will be competitive with FirstNet’s pricing.
Additionally, Verizon hasn’t released specific investment figures, though the press release did note that Verizon does not require any financial commitment from states to support network deployment. The release also said that the creation of the dedicated public safety network core will be fully funded by Verizon.
Maiorana said customer’s have been responding positively to the planned enhancements since the investments were announced earlier this month.
“We’re getting an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers; because, they know that we are working with them to get the improvements in services that they very much need,” Maiorana said. “Our customers have voted with their wallets over the years and they’ve chosen Verizon for a reason. They trust us and they want us to be part of their long term solutions.”
Aside from public safety, Verizon is positioning itself as a leader in the public sector at large. Maiorana views Verizon’s commitment to public safety as key to leading the public sector market.
“I believe that public safety is a big influencer on business success when it comes to the public sector,” Maiorana said. “Public safety is at the forefront of technology use in public safety. Verizon has decades of experience serving the public sector, across Federal, state, and local markets.”
In addition to the investment in public safety at the state and local level, Verizon is strengthening its commitment to the public sector on the Federal level.
“In the Federal world, Verizon was just awarded the Federal EIS contract,” said Maiorana. “We’re looking forward to helping our customers move to the new contract. We’re excited to help our customers transform their service technology to better support their constituents, have stronger citizen engagement, and help minimize their cyber risk. We are very much focused on aligning our solutions to the government department or agency that we are serving.”
Maiorana believes Verizon offers government customers a unique skill set to improve services and efficiency.
“In government, past performance and doing what you say you’ll do is critical,” Maiorana said. “Providing the right operational oversight to assist governments is really where Verizon excels. We like to say that Verizon has the people, experience, and, certainly, the technologies to help governments do their jobs.”