For instance, these critical communications that directly impact the health of power grid cannot risk being preempted by public safety or any other entity, utility officials have asserted for year. As a result, simple prioritization would not be enough for many utilities to consider transitioning their most critical communications to FirstNet, according to these utility sources.

Even if utilities do not use FirstNet as their primary communications network, AT&T contends that there are compelling reasons for utilities to subscribe to FirstNet as extended-primary users.

“By subscribing to FirstNet, extended-primary users would have access to the additional benefits that FirstNet brings to public safety,” according to the AT&T prepared statement. “This includes access to the FirstNet Applications Ecosystem, security of the physically separate and dedicated FirstNet core, monitoring by the FirstNet Security Operations Center and more.”

In addition, AT&T expressed a willingness to help utilities that subscribe to FirstNet implement solutions that enable interoperability between LTE and legacy LMR systems.

“We look forward to helping utilities with private networks interoperate with our FirstNet subscribers,” AT&T said in the prepared statement. “Standard voice and data services would be interoperable and could be combined with FirstNet’s priority and preemption capabilities. There are also interfaces available that can enable such interoperability, provided they use push-to-talk solutions that are compliant with 3GPP standards.”