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My coverage is bigger than yours: Verizon spats with AT&T over the FirstNet responders' network

Posted: , by Daniel Petrov Daniel Petrov

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Back in 2017, AT&T won a quarter-century contract from FirstNet to roll out and maintain a dedicated LTE network that will exclusively serve the communication needs of "first responders" like police officers, firefighters, emergency medical and other services throughout the United States' 56 states and territories. 

This first responders network has been a long time coming, ever since the 9/11 communications kerfuffle forced the government to set aside 700 MHz band 14 spectrum and a couple of billions to build a nationwide emergency platform, and awarded the goods to AT&T last year. Verizon's current emergency network offering, however, will also be upgraded for better performance, and a VP was quick to remind everyone that  "...we’re already working with our public-safety customers to build the solutions they need" and Verizon has 400,000 square miles more territory covered than AT&T. Bazinga!

AT&T, in its turn, promised that 95% of the US population will be covered by 2022, and FirstNet will run on its own hardware, separate from all commercial traffic. That private core that will secure and prioritize the first responders' communication needs, however, is now a bone of contention between AT&T and Verizon. It turns out that Big Red also intends to build it out, and has tested its preemption capabilities already, starting with the LAPD, and the Rose March back in 2017. 

The two carrier juggernauts are even rolling out dedicated app stores and emergency network services for specific locations, so that local authorities can pick and choose. There's plenty of money in the game, and the moves are just starting, according to Ken Rehbehn, a chief analyst from CritComm Insights:

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