September 2010 Inbox
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 | Comments
Following are comments we’ve received from readers about recent online and print news and articles. If you’d like to comment on an article, e-mail
I agree that the ability to locate wireless callers needs to be as accurate as possible. We should expect to be able to locate a wireless device to the scale or accuracy of a dime at some point in the future. We should constantly strive to increase the ability to locate a caller who is involved in an emergency. However, there are parts of this country where the most basic of 9-1-1 capability doesn't exist. Lets not forget that if the technology exists to locate a wireless caller, there must be a means of using this location data. If there are no means of using the location data (no 9-1-1 system), then we look to be putting the cart before the horse in parts of this country. The infrastructure must be there to handle these calls.
Sgt. Steven R. Eden
Director of E9-1-1/Communications
Camden County Sheriff's Office
Camdenton, Mo.

The solution is to forget Project 25 (P25) as the standard and make it another standard. Clearly, it hasn't lived up to its billing and we've barely gotten past a Common Air Interface (CAI).
You really want an open market? It’s called TETRA. P25 as the end-all for interoperability is a fallacy. It does not, in and of itself, allow for interoperability, no more so than any other technology when different frequency bands and lack of budget come into play. And it's way under developed and way too expensive.
Andrew Schwartz
I am disgusted with the FCC, vendors, public-safety agencies and others over Project 25 (P25) issues. I am not pleased with the audio quality and personally feel P25 technology endangers the lives of our public-safety responders. Vendors seem to be at odds with each other over the standards and some vendors seem to be experimenting with features and functions in their P25 radios in an effort to defeat the competition’s radios to make the products available from other vendors look inferior. P25 products from all of the vendors are still way over priced, and after 14 years of P25 technology being developed and implemented, it seems like P25 is almost obsolete, so what’s next?
If I had it all to do over again I think I would have made a push to keep all of our city’s public-safety and non-public-safety operations on analog systems until something was developed that is more reliable with better audio quality and is cost effective. I know I could have saved my city a huge chunk of change by doing this, plus given our public-safety personnel something they would feel much more comfortable and safer with.
Robert “Bob” L. Williams, Jr.
Radio Systems Analyst
City of Marietta, Ga.

In response to “VHF Radios Key to Interoperability in Boulder Fire” from Sept. 14
I think a key point is missing from this article and that is that no radio system regardless of frequency is ever going to work where it has not been designed to work. Agencies in the Boulder, Colo., area have not actively pursued the buildout of the system in their area, because their current VHF system already meets their needs, and they have limited coverage when leaving the major highways on the 700/800 MHz radio system. In areas where agencies did actively pursue the buildout, the coverage works well. We have two radio sites where we run both VHF and 800 MHz, and both cover about the same in those mountainous areas. You can find spots where either one works and the other does not.
Jeff Vaughn
Radio Systems Administrator
Douglas County Sheriff's Office
Castle Rock, Colo.
Throughout the last several decades, VHF analog has been the go-to band for law enforcement and fire departments in the post-crystal controlled era. It is a compromise between the low VHF and UHF bands. Even in the days of crystal locked radios, here in a large area of Texas we had a VHF system that was designated by our council of governments as the inter-city system. It consisted of 100-watt VHF bases at every dispatch center on a common frequency containing a second receiver on a mobile only frequency.
The 100-watt mobiles, in every police vehicle in most cities (big and small) and many fire units had a mobile to mobile channel and a mobile to base channel along with their regular hi-band frequencies in the same radio. For departments on low VHF, UHF or 800 MHz, it was a separate radio. These same VHF inter-city bases were capable of being VOX cross connected to any other base/frequency the individual department had at their disposal in their dispatch center, through the old Motorola Modcom series consoles. This worked well in the North Texas/metroplex area for a couple of decades and was in full swing at the time of my exit from two-way and re-entry into the broadcast and railroad communications industry. I understand it has fallen into disuse, which is unfortunate.
All of which, I mention to point out a great truth: that just because it’s new, improved and digital, doesn’t necessarily make it better for all purposes. Often interoperability and fail hardening (for there is no fail proofing) demands a measure of simplicity not found in today’s mindset.
A short case in point was the Fort Worth, Texas downtown tornado several years ago. So many city departments and units were electronically demanding trunk system sub groups that the system became overwhelmed and useless, forcing the fire dispatch to use the amateur two-meter repeater as a command channel for a brief time.
With all our advances, we must still apply common sense and wisdom. Sometimes we can employ too much high tech. More often, the scope of penetration and propagation characteristics of the various wavelengths available goes unconsidered in system design. Available of late, however, is the software-defined radio (SDR). A properly designed and programmed multiband SDR is an excellent tool facilitating seamless communications. It is the author’s belief that they will be the future of interoperability.
Charlie W H Rohde III
iNARTE Master certificate 000399
It is great to see that a simple system provided the communications that was needed. A good COMM-L and COMM-T can get a cache up and running to serve the firefighters, and simple is much easier to deal with and maintain than some of the complex systems of today. Kudos to those involved for providing what was needed.
Dolph Holmes
Please note that in the fifth paragraph that Boulder County (Colo.) Sheriff's Office is an associate member of Consolidated Communications Network of Colorado (CCNC), using the statewide 700/800 MHz digital trunked radio system only on an interoperable basis, which worked as designed. The system designed for coverage of the Fourmile Canyon Fire area is the Boulder County VHF system and it worked as planned.
Gene McGahey
Colorado SWIC
When the chips are down, the lowest common denominator is what wins. A classic example.
Best Regards,
Greg Carttar, CHS-V
3rd St. R&D Production Services
Special Event and Disaster Communications
The following is opinion and obvious sarcasm:
Oh no... Better not let this get out. The truth about the digital cliff and true interoperability as applied to the impending digital Babylon family of radios. Say it isn’t so.
The analog signal processor between our ears and open squelch button are still powerful tools for fringe and even multipath conditions. Narrow FM wasn’t enough. Digital is better… and sells more radios. Well, at least somebody will make (more) money-selling ACU-1000s.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Chris, Jon and Trent use another software platform loaded with digital terrain elevation data (DTED) to plot the miserable coverage of the trunked Project 25 (P25) system and discuss the attributes of possible future loading. The firefighters still complain about the lack of building penetration and missed calls. The police still ask what is improved about the radio system; other users just set the radio down and pull out their cell phone. All is fine in the Land of Oz until an EF-2 topples a tower.
Overheard more often than not, “Say again, over.”
Trent Bronson 

As a radio amateur, I appreciate and am thankful to you for publishing this article. It will show the community that there are radio amateurs around the world. Thank you.
Dimuthu Wickramasinghe
Radio Amateur from Sri Lanka

In response to “FCC Requests Comment on Railway Waiver Requests” from Sept. 2
The waiver is unnecessary. The 6 db difference can be made up with antenna gain in most configurations. This has always been the case, 2 watts output power, 8 watts effective radiated power (ERP). Omni and directional antennas with appropriate gain are readily available.
C. W. Rohde III
iNARTE Certificate 000399

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