Competition for public safety customers continues to heat up, with AT&T launching its network core for the First Responders Network Authority — and Verizon responding with the general availability of its own public safety network core.

FirstNet said that AT&T has launched the core and that final validation will be completed in with FirstNet in “the April/May timeframe.” Early adopters can have their traffic shifted to the FirstNet core as “part of a controlled introduction by AT&T” and more traffic will begin traversing the FirstNet core after the final testing phase.

“It is the first-ever nationwide LTE enhanced packet core infrastructure built specifically for our nation’s first responder community,” FirstNet CTO and Operations Director Jeff Bratcher claimed on FirstNet’s blog. “The FirstNet core serves as the brain and nervous system of the nationwide network – it separates public safety traffic from commercial traffic and supports current FirstNet functions, like Quality of Service (QoS), priority and preemption. It will also support future mission-critical services to be offered by FirstNet, like Mission Critical push-to-talk and location based services.”

Bratcher went on to write that “the FirstNet core will continue to undergo validation and testing with the First Responder Network Authority. Alongside AT&T, we will exercise the functionality of the public safety features, measure redundancy under a variety of conditions, and validate the overall performance and resiliency of network components. With the results of these tests, the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T will validate that the network will be there when public safety needs it.

“While we are moving to expedite this process, we will not sacrifice delivering a robust, first class, secure broadband experience to our public safety users. This final phase of testing and validation is expected to be completed in the April/May timeframe,” Bratcher wrote. “In the meantime, FirstNet users can begin moving to the core as part of a controlled introduction by AT&T. Once this phase of testing and validation is completed, more FirstNet users will move to the core.”

While AT&T and FirstNet focused on final testing for their core, Verizon pushed ahead with general availability of its own public safety network core for first responder customers starting Thursday, calling the core “a centerpiece of expanded products and services designed to enhance Verizon’s industry-leading 4G LTE network for public safety.” Verizon also touted “traffic segmentation, priority and preemption, improved security, and enhanced service management and control” as part of its public safety core capabilities. As AT&T has done, Verizon is making priority and preemption services available at no extra cost to public safety users.

Verizon spokesman Kevin King said that the carrier already has a customer using its public safety network core and that it is in the process of working with first responder customers to migrate their traffic to the new core.

“We continue to make the investments necessary to give public safety access to the best possible network coverage, reliability and capability, whenever they need it,” said Michael Maiorana, senior vice president, public sector for Verizon. “Our public safety network will provide a comprehensive and cost-effective solution for public safety, and we’ll continue working to ensure first responders get the network reliability and access to innovative services they need to keep our communities safe.”

Watch an interview below with Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president for FirstNet, on FirstNet developments including the network core:

Watch an excerpt from Maiorana’s keynote address at IWCE 2018 below:



Image: 123RF stock photo

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