November 2010 Inbox
Saturday, November 20, 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
In response to “Public Misperceives 9-1-1 Technology” from Nov. 23
I enjoyed your article about the public’s misperceptions of 9-1-1. There is some misinformation between what the public expects and the capability of the 9-1-1 center. This can be blamed on improper news reporting or TV shows that portray a telecommunicator knowing exactly where someone is during an emergency. Even though there have been great strides in wireless technology, there are still instances where we can’t locate callers because we can’t get the cell phone to display Phase II technology.
We strive to educate the public about the uses of 9-1-1. We achieve this by sending telecommunicators to talk to senior groups to explain how 9-1-1 works and to answer any questions they may have about dialing 9-1-1. This is done at various senior talks throughout our county in different communities. We also recognize the problems with texting and want kids to know what the capabilities are from 9-1-1. There is another public-safety campaign that we have instituted that includes hanging posters at different schools (K – 12) in our different communities. These posters explain to kids that they can’t text 9-1-1, not to prank call 9-1-1 and so on. You can see some examples of these posters in our newsletter located at
In addition to the above measures, we also set up a 9-1-1 simulator at different community events throughout the year. The simulator allows a child to dial 9-1-1 and a telecommunicator on the other end of the phone to ask them questions. This is a learning experience for the child and the parent. It shows many of the parents that their child does not know their home address or home phone number. During the Virginia Tech shooting, there were several students who tried to text 9-1-1 unsuccessfully. It is unknown how many people now try to text 9-1-1 for routine emergencies. Hopefully the 9-1-1 technology will eventually catch up to the cell-phone technology.
Martin Bennett
Shift Supervisor
Cook County Sheriff's Police 9-1-1
Des Plaines, Ill.
As a 9-1-1 dispatch supervisor and a member of the older generation it seems to me that it would be cost effective to educate the new generation not to text to 911.
This could be done by school teachers, short TV ads, mothers and fathers with less cost to the government (the taxpayers). I can only imagine the first text message that comes in will start with. OMG and ending with LOL or LMAO. The only reason I know these terms is because I have children and grandchildren. I hope someone will program the phones with messages like the TDD we already have. This seems like a waste of taxpayer dollars and a headache to dispatch centers. Just my opinion for what it's worth.
Alton C. Thornton
I was of the opinion that E9-1-1 service, which if my memory is correct people in New York pays for on all their phone bills was to allow 9-1-1 operators to locate cell phones?
With the advent of the wireless and texting generation, the 9-1-1 system needs a re-design using some 4G technology.
John Thompson

In response to “Canadian Border License Coordination Needs Improvement” from the November/December issue of MissionCritical Communications
Ralph Haller:
Great article on the FCC and Canadian frequency coordination. I have been working with Emil Vogel on licensing UHF trunked systems along the New York border. After many back and forth exchanges, we have been successful. Your article is like reading a history book on our activities.
I hope the article will result in some action to formalize the process between the two countries using the latest propagation tools. Thanks again for explaining the process so our clients understand the real world of Canadian coordination.
Chick Langone
Langone & Associates
Tewksbury, Mass.
Ralph Haller’s Response:
Thanks for the comments. Canada is a huge problem. The good news is that there seems to be some progress in improving the situation. Industry Canada has informally expressed interest in agreeing to a common interference model. But the process is slow and costly for applicants.

In response to “7 Narrowbanding Tips” in the August issue of MissionCritical Communications
Leonard Koehnen:
I found several interesting and informative parts in the article. One of them touched on a point that has bothered me for some time: the difference in modulation and received audio from the “quiet talkers” and those who speak loudly and close to the mic. This is a real problem for those in the field because some transmissions are received with high volume, and others are barely audible or even unreadable because the low audio.
I was a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) navigation/communications tech for more than 35 years. Our AM receivers had AGC (as almost all receivers do) and automatic volume control (AVC). As I remember it, we could vary the modulation from 30 percent to 85 percent and get (typically) 3 dB or less change in the audio output level. I think the AVC was developed either in the last of the IF stage.
Why can't we get an AVC in the FM equipment? Is there a technical reason?
I’m a volunteer in a sheriff’s department working with a county communications coordinator and a member of the Sheriff’s Citizens On Patrol and in these jobs listen to a fair amount of communications. We are prepared for the narrowbanding and have a changeover date and plan. We are already changing to narrowband-capable equipment.
Because the county is mountainous, 80 percent forest and sparsely populated with most of the population along the north/south highway, the east highway and the river valleys, coverage is a problem. We will be staying with VHF as are most of the public service agencies in the area.
Thank you for your article and time.
“Del” Freret Jr.

It has not been demonstrated that the existing criteria for FM certification of intrinsically safe (IS) products has ever fallen short of protecting our communities against hazards that they were intended to.
It is with the aforementioned in mind that it is obvious that those products that have passed the rigorous stands of FM should be grandfathered in and new products that are about to come onto the market could be required to meet revised standards. One should always consider safety and when that is accomplished, going beyond that is a matter of excessive ego and a total disregard for monetary responsibility.
Jeffrey A. Weitzman
W & W Manufacturing
Even before I read National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) Chairman Haller's point, I already had asked myself the same question. Where is there evidence of existing FM Approvals standards being insufficient for the safe operation of handheld radios in hazardous environments?
If there is none, then there is no reason to place additional burdens on an overly regulated radio industry to fix something that isn't broken. Even if there have been some documented reports of problems, the root cause of those problems should have exonerated the present standards, which should be perfectly adequate.
Wayne R. Hopfe
Communications Coordinator
City of Bakersfield, Calif.
The changes to bring American standards into alignment with European standards overlook serious differences in applications. The coverage issues of the reduced power and changes that would be required for existing systems’ design benefit only foreign manufacturers and certainly do not benefit our industrial users — on top of narrowbanding. Coverage and reliability of communications and issues with Long Term Evolution (LTE) make enough changes with budgets flat lined. And does any U.S. manufacturer products meet those standards?
European problems are not the same as Americas' problems, and European solutions do not necessarily fit traditional U.S. requirements. Has anyone realized that Texas or California are each as large or larger than any country in Europe?
This is more of the Washington effort to make America part of Europe when we do not have much in common other than they want our markets.
Texas Engineer
How is 25-/12.5-kilohertz narrowband technology going to be implemented on the VHF (Part 90) 30-/15-kilohertz channels?
The FCC has made a grave error in "90.20 App. B, Final Rules." The incumbent VHF channels are spaced at 30 kilohertz, not 25 kilohertz. The FCC’s oversight here presents a problem. So 175 kilohertz per megahertz is wasted by populating this band with 12.5-/25-kilohertz technology. This is wasted spectrum.
A 1-megahertz VHF block will provide 80 12.5-kilohertz channels or 66 15-kilohertz channels. VHF narrowband channels are 15 kilohertz and listed in 90.20 App B Final Rules as such. The 12.5-/25-kilohertz channels will “work” on a 15/30-kilohertz channel, but it will unnecessarily waste spectrum. It will also require incumbent users to change frequency because a new band plan would have to be created if 12.5-/25-kilohertz rules are implemented in the VHF range.
The last great FCC mistake was allowing cellular sites to be collocated with public-safety sites. Rebanding is still not complete. The last FCC boo-boo was the mandate to convert all 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) to 406 MHz by August. It was another technically impossible mandate, and they had to eat it.
Frank Moorman

This is very good news. Finally we have truly interoperable TETRA networks. Thank you very much.

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