Agencies Collaborate on European Broadband Spectrum for Public Safety
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Comments
By Thomas Weber
European agencies are working together in the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) to establish a harmonized frequency band for public-safety broadband services. A new project team FM49 was established to focus on medium- and long-term (before 2025) spectrum realization and to develop a roadmap for the timeframes and necessary steps needed. The evaluation of suitable bands for Europeanwide harmonization of spectrum, both below and above 1 GHz, will take into account cross-border communications issues and public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) application requirements, including issues such as interoperability.
Public-safety broadband requirements from industry and public-safety users have already been described in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) system reference document TR 102 628 and were sent from ETSI to the ECC frequency management working group (WGFM). The formation of the new FM49 follows a series of events. The WGFM of ECC of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) organized a workshop on spectrum needs for the PPDR communications systems in March 2010, followed by an European Union (EU) workshop organized by directorate general (DG) Information Society and Media (INFSO) of the European Commission in March 2011.
The European Communications Office (ECO), developed by the WGFM, also sent out a questionnaire about the radio spectrum demand for public safety. Based on the responses received, WGFM identified the following conclusions:
• The use of existing and new high-speed data applications by PPDR users will increase rapidly;
• Increased data use, especially for mission-critical communications, will significantly affect the frequency need and justifies additional spectrum; and
• Many requirements and conditions for PPDR lead to the need to use dedicated PPDR networks. However, in addition to the dedicated networks, commercial/public networks can also be used for non-mission-critical data applications.
Existing ECC deliverables for PPDR purposes include the ECC Decision (08) 05 on the harmonization of frequency bands for the implementation of digital PPDR radio applications in the 380 – 470 MHz range and ECC Recommendation (08) 04 on the identification of frequency bands for the implementation of broadband disaster relief (BBDR) radio applications in 5 GHz, as well as ECC Decision (06) 05 regarding air-ground-air (AGA) operation of the digital land mobile systems for the emergency services and ERC Decision (01) 19 regarding direct mode operation (DMO) frequencies for emergency services.
FM49 aims to bring together the regulatory authorities, as well as the array of stakeholders and experts in telecommunications used for PPDR purposes. This will facilitate the collection of further information and exchange of views and ideas concerning future PPDR systems, especially broadband systems, and is a unique opportunity to discuss some key issues related to PPDR and the frequency bands to be used for these systems in the future.
FM48 has terms of reference for three years. The next step is to agree on a roadmap for the FM49 action at the first meeting this month. The first step is to review all the spectrum requests received and the related requirements and then to submit a proposal to the CEPT ECC for the identification of frequencies for broadband PPDR applications.
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Thomas Weber joined the European Communications Office (ECO) in 2010 as expert for spectrum management and is chairman of the WGFM maintenance group on short range devices (SRD/MG). He is also responsible for the frequency management project teams in the WGFM dealing with spectrum monitoring, PMR/PAMR, satellite services, direct-air-to-ground communications and the European Common Allocations Table. Contact Weber at

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