Brittingham declined to comment about a potential timeline for Verizon officials to speak with FirstNet about interoperability.

"I don’t want to go into details of anything with them, but we’ve always said that we want work with them [FirstNet officials]—we need to work with them,” Brittingham said. “So, we’ll do that, and we’re certainly hopeful that it will result in an agreement.

“Suffice it to say that we’re very interested in having a discussion with them and hope to soon.”

Even if Verizon is unable to forge an interoperability agreement with FirstNet, the carrier “absolutely” will proceed with its plans to build a public-safety LTE core network, Brittingham said.

“We think there are significant benefits in having options for public safety,” he said. “We serve a substantial part of the market today. We have a very strong reputation for serving public safety, and I think it would be a disservice to them, if we weren’t to follow through, so we’re pressing ahead.”

One new aspect of Verizon’s public-safety plan is that the carrier will have its device manufacturers include support for operations on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet.

“Our intent is to provide our customers with the best solution possible that enables them the most flexibility possible, and we think that includes some access to Band 14,” he said.

Some industry observers were surprised by the announcement about the Band 14 devices, because Verizon currently has no rights to leverage the spectrum for communications. Brittingham acknowledged that Verizon would need permission to provide communications services with Band 14 spectrum.

“That certainly could be part of an interoperability agreement with FirstNet, or it might not be—it depends on how important they may feel that is,” Brittingham said. “But we realize, in order for our customers to operate on a Band 14 network that is owned and managed by FirstNet and AT&T, that obviously is subject to their authority.

“Just to be clear, putting [Band 14 support] in the devices just makes sure that the capability is there. Whether or not they can actually do it—and how they do it—will depend on a bunch of other things, but we want to make sure that they are not limited in the device that they have. We want to make sure that they have devices that provide them with flexibility.”

When asked whether Verizon plans to get authorization to utilize Band 14 spectrum by pursuing a contract to build an alternative radio access network (RAN) within an “opt-out” state or territory, Brittingham said that access to the spectrum is not a priority for Verizon.

“I won’t comment on the opt-out situation other than to say that our interest is in serving our customers and meeting their needs,” Brittingham said. “If there is a state that has a strong interest in opting out and having control over Band 14 on their own, then we’re certainly open to discussing that with them. That’s pretty much all I’ll say.

“Obviously, if that were to result in something, then our Band 14 devices would work on that [‘opt-out’ state’s alternative RAN] network. But the decision to put Band 14 devices is not predicated on opt-out. It’s really regardless of what arrangement occurs in a state. Opt-in or opt-out, Band 14—we expect—will be there in some way, and we want to make sure that it interoperates with that.”