February 2010 Inbox
Monday, March 01, 2010 | Comments
Following are comments we’ve received from readers about recent online news and articles. If you’d like to comment on an article, e-mail edit@RRMediaGroup.com.
In response to “Rural Agencies Adopt Digital Communications” from Feb. 17
I understand that an alternate digital scheme is better than no scheme, especially if there is a financial reason that overrides all else, but a statement such as “NEXEDGE is Project 25 (P25) features” is self-serving. The two are incompatible. There are dozens of other incompatible systems, which are all still entirely incompatible, but they all have the same features. The only way they can interoperate in the classic sense between the native system and P25 or any other digital or analog system is through a gateway style patch, exactly what the article said the agency had used previously (console patching). The only interoperability being served here is to those few agencies that are going to be operating within an island of their own choosing. Don’t expect much interoperable help from outside, and don’t expect to provide assistance to and within other areas outside.
No intent to disparage NEXEDGE, but let’s not taint reality with yellow truths.
I noticed your recent article on the Kenwood solution for narrowbanding in rural communities, and in particular, the comments of a Kenwood executive. I thought you might be interested in my reaction to those comments, available at http://falconinfo.blogspot.com/2009/08/comment-on-federal-grant-funding-for.html.
Burch Falkner
Falcon Direct
Birmingham, AL

In response to the third and fourth letters to the editor in the January Inbox
What the commentators appear to believe is that the TETRA Association and grants of its waiver petition to the FCC are needed for TETRA to be used in the United States, and that the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, Motorola and others commenting against that petition stand in its way, but neither is legally correct.
All that is standing in the way, practically but not legally, are the end users in the market who will not learn a few basics that show 1. Motorola can’t legally block TETRA, 2. FCC waivers aren’t needed in this case and 3. Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) approval is not needed. The TETRA Association is suggesting that FCC waivers are needed because it is actually on the side of Motorola and others who want to continue to keep the market here under the false belief that it can’t yet buy TETRA, for this or that reason. I explain that and show evidence in my opposition and reply comments in the FCC proceeding on the TETRA Association rule waiver petition.
The gentleman who wrote the letter and the rest of the market who lament about not having TETRA access don’t have it for the simple reason that, similar to most in the U.S. LMR market, they don’t apply the needed legal and brain work and guts. Without that, you can’t get and defend increasingly complex modern technology and equipment, but you get stuck with whatever the powers that seek to control the market tell you that you can and can’t have.
After researching, I have discovered the explanation: It’s Alice in (LMR) Wonderland at the Mad Hatter Tea (TEtrA) Party. “The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: ‘No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming.” [The U.S. LMR market is a big table, but all jammed in a corner and no room for TETRA.]
“ ‘Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. ‘I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked. ‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.” … [TETRA invited, but not really.]
“ ‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again. ‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied. ‘What’s the answer?’ ‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.” [Motorola and TETRA Association only speak in riddles. Things needed to get TETRA — FCC waivers, testing, TIA approvals, etc. — that on the surface seem to make sense, but none really do.]
Then, if the above riddle is seen through, the next problem is that hardly any TETRA equipment company will sell TETRA in the United States or Canada to you, because Motorola (and I expect Harris and EADS also) don’t want them to. And they can clobber those folks in direct and indirect ways in other nations, especially European countries. I know an exception, possibly several.
Warren Havens
Skybridge Spectrum Foundation

In response to the first letter to the editor in the January Inbox
I don’t know what radios Mr. Dill is referring to. The only “multiband” [dual-band] Part 90 handheld prior to the current products was the Yaesu FTH 2070. A number of the manufacturers have put together mobile dual radio/single control head units for a number of years, but that isn’t the same as having two or more bands available directly on a user’s belt. There has been a clamor for multiband handhelds since the Yaesu product was dropped. I know, because I was one of those clamoring. But the marketing people couldn’t see a mass market until the government stepped in and collected/combined all the requests to show that a market existed.
Walter Howard
Arizona Department of Public Safety
Wireless Systems Bureau
Wireless Systems Supervisor

The first question that comes to mind is the difference in modulation methods. Project 25 (P25) is one method. I kind of thought it was supposed to be the example for others to follow. Now you have the Motorola MOTOTRBO and the Kenwood’s NEXEDGE method. Are they compatible with one another? If not, why not? Looks like interoperability took a hit, for the sake of money!
Clay Dungey
State of Tennessee

In response to “Q&A: 700 MHz Demo Broadband Network” from Feb. 3
It was with great interest I read your article about the 700 MHz broadband demo network initiative. That is, I was interested until I read Dereck Orr’s answer to your question about how this initiative supports the U.S. and European broadband standards effort (Project Mesa).
I would have liked you to follow-up his answer with asking into what exactly these “unique U.S. public-safety requirements” are. Nobody has ever been able to articulate how these deviate from first-responder requirements in the rest of the world and the applications stated by Orr also do not support this view: “Multicast/broadcast capabilities, priority access, pre-emption, short message service (SMS) and voice.” All of these features are standard functions in, for instance TETRA, and maybe Project 25 (P25) in the future.
The European industry in this field would be interested in learning what exactly these specific U.S. requirements are that warrant yet another proprietary U.S. standard, which certainly will lead to less competition together with inferior and more expensive products for the U.S. users. Thank you for an always interesting and relevant newsletter.
Jens Thostrup
Senior Vice President
Sales & Marketing
Dereck Orr’s Response:
Let me attempt to clear up any confusion. The initial focus of the 700 MHz Broadband Demo Network is Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based equipment. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and specifically LTE are global standards that have been adopted by many U.S. public-safety organizations, in addition to numerous network operators globally. For our part, there is no intent to create a proprietary U.S. standard for next-generation public-safety broadband communications.
However, unique to the United States is the fact that our country has a nationwide allocation for spectrum (763 – 768 MHz and 793 – 798 MHz) dedicated for public-safety users. This new broadband spectrum allocations will have unique performance characteristics, as well as unique requirements for emission masks, filter requirements and the like, that may not be applicable to other countries based on their own spectrum allocation and/or regulatory requirements. Additionally, LTE is a commercial, next-generation, broadband standard that may not in all cases meet public-safety requirements as identified by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) broadband task force. Our goal is to help identify those gaps and work within the 3GPP international forum to address them, thereby supporting a standard that meets both commercial and public-safety needs.

In response to “More Narrowbanding FAQs” from Feb. 2
I think the response to the last question is an excellent example of how our country is regulating its citizens to death. I can’t understand how changing the crystal filtering in a receiver would cause it to radiate any more or less than it did originally. The FCC respondent must be from the legal profession and not technical (our world seems to be run by the lawyers in recent times). His statements seem to outlaw the essence of the amateur radio hobby — home brewing — putting such activity far beyond the legal reach of most of us.
As an experienced radio technician for many years, I am aware of the problems that “unintentional radiators” can cause; I myself work hard to keep my antenna sites “clean.” The worst offenders are computing devices, switching power supplies, the electric grid and nonradio devices that trash the noise floor with hash. I think that decent-quality receivers that retain the proper shielding would never be a problem. Requiring new certification for such a modified receiver is bureaucratic silliness in my view. Transmitters are a different story; they are designed to radiate signals. Receivers are designed specifically not to.
Those wishing to wait to replace these receivers could leave them wideband — they should work fine receiving narrowband signals until the day a new licensee appears on an adjacent channel.
Paul Blum

In response to “Dispatch” in the February issue of MissionCritical Communications
I am a 25-year fire service veteran, new to the public-utility arena; however I still keep tabs on what is happening with regard to my brother and sister firefighters. I am glad to see the positive movement with the various entities on 700 MHz D block services for the national emergency services and public utilities. As you are no doubt aware, communications, especially high-tech communications, have always been the Achilles heel of emergency response. It appears that these proposed upgrades will give our responders much better service and communications capabilities, as well as tying in the public-utility services. I will continue to follow these developments in your magazine. Thank you so much for the reporting on this critical issue.
John J. “Patrick” Amott IV
Safety and Environmental Specialist
T & D Environmental Services, TDBU
Alhambra, Calif. 

Click here for the January 2010 Inbox.
Click here for the December 2009 Inbox.
Your comments are welcome, click here.

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