AT&T Wireless announced today that it has signed a contract to provide Wireless Priority Service (WPS), which helps national security officials, emergency responders, and those in critical infrastructure industries communicate during times of emergency.
WPS works by giving a limited number of government-authorized wireless phone users priority access to the wireless network. If wireless network capacity is strained during an emergency, the authorized users’ emergency calls are the first to go through. In essence, these calls are moved to the “front of the line” so that they may be completed using the next available wireless channel.
The National Communications System (NCS) oversees the WPS program. The NCS approves key personnel for WPS in accordance with criteria approved by the Federal Communications Commission. In order to take advantage of WPS, the government-authorized users simply dial *272 before placing a call.
“The Wireless Priority Service is a critical communications resource for national security and emergency preparedness. The addition of AT&T Wireless to the list of WPS carriers is an important expansion of this program and the program office is extremely pleased to enter into this contract,” said John Graves, the government WPS program director.
“We recognize the role wireless carriers can play in promoting homeland security and we take this obligation extremely seriously,” said Chris Hill, vice president of AT&T Wireless’ government markets unit. “We are committed to supporting our government customers and WPS is an important part of our overall suite of government solutions.”
AT&T Wireless’ goal in providing WPS is to balance the communications needs of key national security and emergency preparedness personnel with those of the general public. WPS does not interrupt calls that are already in progress.
AT&T Wireless will implement WPS on a phased-in basis, beginning with the city of Boston and the Democratic National Convention. Future deployment locations will include AT&T Wireless markets nationwide.
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