Move over AT&T. Verizon plans to make “substantial investments” in network capabilities, products and services aimed at providing 4G LTE to public safety agencies. The carrier plans to build and operate a private network core dedicated to public safety communications, providing network access and call routing.
The dedicated public safety core will operate separately from the commercial core and provide first responders with access to the whole coverage area of company’s 4G LTE network.
“Verizon’s public safety network solution does not require that states opt-out of FirstNet, does not require access to any federal funding provided to FirstNet, and does not require any financial commitment from states to support network deployment,” said John Stratton, Verizon executive vice president and president of global operations. The creation of this dedicated public safety network core will be fully funded by Verizon.
Verizon will make priority access and preemption services available to public safety when necessary and at no charge. The carrier will also invest in new mission-critical 4G LTE voice communications to complement existing services such as Push-to-Talk Plus. PTT Plus already includes interoperability with existing Land Mobile Radio networks.
“We’re making the investments necessary to give public safety access to the best possible network coverage, reliability and capability, when and where 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 offer first responders the network reliability and access to innovative services they need to keep our communities safe.”
Verizon will market multi-band devices that provide access to Band 14 spectrum and enable full interoperability with any Band 14 radio access networks (RANs) deployed by FirstNet.
Thee FirstNet response to Verizon’s announcement noted that it has added Arizona, Kansas and Nevada to make 15 states that have opted in for its nationwide broadband public safety network.
“With Nevada’s opt-in decision today, we are up to 15 states/territories. Two of those states explored alternative options through an RFP/RFI process in their state before deciding to join FirstNet,” according to a FirstNet spokesperson.
The organization seems confident that it has done the groundwork that will allow it to be a success.
“FirstNet has consulted closely with public safety as a partner to develop this network,” the FirstNet spokesperson added. “Thanks to their input, we are now delivering first responders a compelling network solution they’ve never had before – which includes true priority today – and we will deliver them ruthless preemption, a dedicated and encrypted public safety core network with local control capabilities, a dedicated FirstNet Public Safety Security Operations Center and public safety grade customer care.”
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.
AT&T has been selected by Choice Hotels International to provide its franchises with internet, Wi-Fi and mobility solutions.
Choice Hotels franchises 6,500 hotels representing more than 500,000 rooms worldwide across 11 brands, including Ascend Hotel Collection, Cambria, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Sleep Inn, Quality, Clarion, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn.
AT&T will provide wireless access points, equipment, installation services and guest support for Wi-Fi at participating Choice properties, which will stay connected over a dedicated fiber line.
AT&T is now part of the Choice Hotel’s Qualified Vendor Program where Choice franchisees have the option to take advantage of a negotiated brand discount from AT&T, simplifying the purchasing process at the hotel level.
AT&T also provides mobile connectivity to Choice employees with solutions like AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk. The new agreement lets Choice expand current mobile solutions to additional properties and more easily manage operations to improve guest services.
July 18, 2017 —
While the Washington Nationals easily handled the Seattle Mariners during a recent game, the real contest was between performances of the cellular networks and the Wi-Fi system as they battled to provide the best online experience.
During a recent major league baseball game at Washington Nationals Park, independent network benchmarking firm Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) conducted customer experience mobile network testing. The tests revealed that, both before and during the game, the Wi-Fi system excelled in the area of speed but fell behind cellular when it came to reliability.
Paul Carter, CEO GWS, said, “People want a reliable network with reasonable speed that works when you make a call, post a selfie, or load a video. If you’re at a major sporting event, you want to quickly take care of your online activities and watch the game not your phone.”
Before the game, the carriers’ data speeds for a 4 mb file upload (the size of a Snapchat video) ranged from 1 to 4 Mbps, according to Global Wireless Solutions, while the Wi-Fi network averaged speeds of 8 Mbps.
AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile also provided consistent speeds throughout the evening, while Verizon’s speeds dropped sharply during the game, according to GWS’ testing. For example, Verizon’s download speeds for watching a short video clip fell from 2.8 Mbps before the game to 1.6 Mbps during the game, before rising to 4.2 Mbps after the game
Wi-Fi Speed Crushes Cellular
During the game when the Park was the busiest, the Wi-Fi network was capable of delivering an average of roughly 32 Mbps, while the fastest cellular network, AT&T, averaged 25 Mbps.
“The $300-million program to bring Wi-Fi to every major league baseball park in the United States has brought in-seat connectivity into the 21st century,” the firm wrote. “When measuring potential capacity download throughputs, the Nationals Park Wi-Fi network was overall higher than those measured on cellular networks.
Cellular Owns Reliability
However, while the Park’s Wi-Fi was the quickest, it was not the most reliable. All the carriers were more reliable in completing data tasks, nearly 100 percent, while Wi-Fi was several percentage points behind.
“A consistent Internet experience is highly valued. Steady with reasonable speed is a better experience than a network which is fast, then becomes too slow to undertake some common tasks, then suddenly speeds up again,” Carter, said. “If you want to share a photo or send a video, you want your network to support that dependably. For some baseball fans, the WiFi network in the Park can provide a better experience than their own LTE connection.”
For voice calls AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all had 100 percent reliability with AT&T and Verizon using VoLTE the entire time. T-Mobile, also using VoLTE, wasn’t far behind, however, it did experience 1 in 12 calls failing before the game started.
July 12, 2017 —
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed a letter accepting the FirstNet and AT&T* plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the Commonwealth’s public safety community. This will make Virginia the first state in the country to “opt-in” to FirstNet and bring advanced technologies that will help first responders save lives and protect communities.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, “While this is only the beginning of the process, I look forward to the continued coordinated efforts among Virginia, FirstNet, and AT&T to provide public safety officials with innovative new technologies that will help them keep Virginians safe.”
FirstNet and AT&T will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Virginia’s public safety community at no cost to the state for the next 25 years. The FirstNet network will deliver an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders.
The FirstNet solution that will be built in Virginia was designed with direct input from the Commonwealth’s public safety community. Since 2013, FirstNet has met with Virginia officials and public safety personnel more than 90 times to address their unique communication needs. This includes understanding the importance of maritime coverage and increasing coverage in rural areas of the Commonwealth as well as coordination with military and federal government users.
The decision enables FirstNet and AT&T to begin creating an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications.
Specifically, Virginia’s first responder subscribers will have immediate access to quality of service and priority to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network. Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it.
June 29, 2017 —
T-Mobile and AT&T are moving forward aggressively using License Assisted Access (LAA) and LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U).
T-Mobile completed its first mobile broadband data session live in the field using License Assisted Access (LAA) on its commercial network in Los Angeles recording 741 Mbps download speeds using 80 MHz of aggregated spectrum.
Meanwhile, in a separate LTE-LAA field trial, AT&T and Ericsson reached speeds of more than 650 Mbps in San Francisco.
“It’s a positive for the wireless infrastructure industry,” Ted Abrams, founder and principal of Abrams Wireless, said. “It will enjoy additional revenues because of LAA and LTE-U because at each fixed site new radio transceivers need to be installed to carry the signal.”
LAA and LTE-U aggregate unlicensed and licensed spectrum to create a better link between the base facility at the tower or small cell node and the user’s handset. Both technologies also had to be designed to coexist with unlicensed technologies to guard against interference.
Earlier this year, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology authorized the first LTE-U devices in the 5 GHz band.
LAA vs. LTE-U
On the same day that T-Mobile announced its LAA achievement, it reported that it is live with LTE-U, which requires a specialized proprietary chipset developed by Qualcomm, in select locations in its commercial networks in Bellevue, Washington; Brooklyn, New York; Dearborn, Michigan; Las Vegas, Nevada; Richardson, Texas; and Simi Valley, California. More LTE-U capable sites will be rolled out later this year.
Both LTE-U and LAA extend LTE into unlicensed. LTE-U was introduced by 3GPP in Release 12 of its LTE standard and LAA was included in Release 13 of the LTE standard.
A mobile operator using LAA can support Gigabit Class LTE with as little as 20 megahertz of licensed spectrum, according to Qualcomm. LAA enables greater carrier aggregation than LTE-U, so mobile operators can combine larger amounts of unlicensed and licensed spectrum, according to T-Mobile.
AT&T called the testing of LTE-LAA technology a milestone on its way to 5G technology. The carrier’s initial LTE-LAA rollout is planned by the end of the year, when it hopes to reach gigabit speeds.
“LTE-LAA technology is expected to play a key role as we aim to reach theoretical peak speeds of up to 1 Gbps at some small cell sites by the end of the year. It’s also one of the technologies we’re using to enhance the network and boost speeds in our 5G Evolution markets,” Marachel Knight, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, said.
Verizon, which began the LTE-U Forum in 2014 with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, has been quiet on this front. In mid April it asked the FCC for permission to extend its LTE-U testing, according to RCR Wireless News.
Other LTE-U, LAA News