Verizon revealed it is making investments to provide continued backing for emergency services in the US, as the operator looks to compete with rival AT&T’s $46.5 billion public-safety network.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Verizon’s SVP Michael Maiorana said the company is “serious about remaining extremely relevant in this space”, and is currently building dedicated lanes at the core of its network for firefighters and the country’s other first responders.

Maiorana declined to state exactly how much it is investing in the effort, but Verizon said it controls about 66 per cent of the country’s emergency services market.

However, its dominance in the market is under increasing threat after its biggest rival AT&T won a federal contract worth $6.5 billion to build the country’s “first nationwide high-speed data and voice network” for emergency services, in partnership with FirstNet.

FirstNet is an independent body within the US department of commerce dedicated to rolling out the project.

The idea for a nationwide network originated from the 9/11 Commission report, which found that many first responders lost access during the tragedy in 2001.

As well as winning the contract, AT&T committed to making an investment worth $40 billion over 25 years to build, operate and maintain the network. The operator will initially have access to 20MHz of spectrum, as well as $6.5 billion in government funds.

There is still ongoing debate in certain US states whether to join the initiative, or build their own dedicated infrastructure, WSJ added.

At this stage, a dozen states and territories have agreed for AT&T to build the network, parts of which are already live.

WSJ added states do not need to opt out of the FirstNet/AT&T project to benefit from Verizon’s access, and the company does not expect to receive public funds.