Like Verizon, AT&T officials expressed gratitude to the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the first responders fighting the massive wildfires in the state. In the future, AT&T hopes to serve California public-safety agencies as the provider of FirstNet services in the state.

“AT&T remains honored to have been selected as the FirstNet nationwide partner, and looks forward to continuing to work with CalOES as they consider their decision in California,” according to an AT&T statement provided to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Our California statewide network, crisis-response, and in-state resources make AT&T the superior choice to deploy the FirstNet network across the state.”

For weeks, there had been considerable speculation about what Verizon would do in California, based on public statements that appeared to be conflicting.

Wiederecht vowed that Verizon would participate in a California alternative-RAN procurement on multiple occasions, most notably during the Oct. 11 meeting of the California First Responder Network (CalFRN) board and during the Nov. 2 meeting of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS).

But Verizon representatives consistently have expressed opposition to the network arrangement between an alternative-RAN contractor in an “opt-out” state and the nationwide FirstNet system. At the heart of the issue is the requirement that FirstNet public-safety subscriber—in both the “primary” and “extended primary” categories—must utilize the FirstNet LTE core network operated by AT&T instead of a core operated by the alternative RAN contractor in the “opt-out” state.

Officials for FirstNet and AT&T have stated that it is important for all FirstNet public-safety subscribers utilize the FirstNet network core to ensure that first-responder communications are interoperable, are prioritized appropriately, and meet performance metrics and cybersecurity standards. But Don Brittingham, Verizon’s vice president of public safety, has said that Verizon believes that these goals can be achieved in a multi-provider environment, as opposed to having all traffic be processed only by the FirstNet network core.

“AT&T is … wrong in its claim that multiple networks would risk network security, operational complexity or increased latency,” Brittingham said in a statement provided last week to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “These issues are red herrings designed to discourage states from opting out.”

Brittingham’s assertion is consistent with the position that Verizon representatives repeatedly have expressed: that public safety would benefit from the competition and innovation that would be sparked by FirstNet establishing an environment that welcomes multiple providers.

“States should not be required to use the network core deployed by FirstNet, as such a requirement would put the state in the untenable position of being driven by the interests and decisions of FirstNet’s commercial partner—a condition that would be unattractive to any prospective state commercial partner,” Brittingham said during a hearing before the Pennsylvania legislature.