November 2011 Inbox
Friday, November 11, 2011 | 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, email



In response to “EWA: Nothing Against TETRA, It’s the FCC” from Nov. 30
Thanks for the EWA story on its position with TETRA. I think confusion still exists, even after the FCC “clarification” as it pertains to using TETRA equipment within the 800 MHz public-safety bands.
The waiver covers any TETRA equipment that hasn’t already been type accepted for use under Part 90 — the same process that Project 25 (P25) radios or plain old FM go through, for that matter. The waiver allows radios with TETRA certificates to operate in designated Part 90 spectrum without going through FCC type-acceptance process.
So to be clear, the statement in the article about TETRA not being allowed in the 800 MHz public-safety band — “The technology is not approved for use in the U.S. public-safety spectrum bands.” — is not entirely correct. If a TETRA radio already has a Part 90 type acceptance certificate (i.e., PowerTrunk and Sepura), they have no restrictions where they can operate and can operate in National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) public-safety spectrum. The waiver and the accompanying public-safety band restriction only apply to TETRA equipment that has not been subjected to the full FCC type acceptance process.
This continues to be a major point of industry confusion and needs to be cleared up.
Andrew E Schwartz
Director, Radio Communications
N.J. Transit


To those who are concerned about non-competitive sole sourcing of products and services by government: I'm surprised and disturbed that there has been no real citizen or industry push-back about this sole-source narrowbanding project. A link to the Washington State Patrol document is here.
And here I thought that Project 25 (P25) was meant to promote public-safety radio communications interoperability between different manufacturers' radio  systems. I must have missed something along the way.
Perhaps this presents an opportunity for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request? The details  about this decision could prove not only interesting but enlightening as well.
Nick Ruark
General Manager
Quality MobileCommunications

This is an idea that should be rejected. There has already been considerable time, talent and treasure expended in making this migration, and the deadline and the requirements necessary to comply have been made available to licensees for years. The idea of designating additional federal funds to assist in compliance is also ridiculous, even if the government was not in a terrible fiscal position.
Tim Curbow
Central Communications & Electronics
Knoxville, Tenn.
Having not read the proposed legislation, I can only express my concern for the negative impact of allowing wideband operations en-masse to continue where entities compliant with the current rules have spent or are spending millions of pubic dollars on implementation of 12.5-kilohertz compliant systems that are adjacent to 25-kilohertz operations and are expected to be 12.5-kilohertz narrowband by 2013. Allowing the wideband entities to continue without restriction against compliant adjacent channel narrowband systems has the potential for severe interference to fire, police and other emergency services operating in the required narrowband mode.
While it may be possible to extend the implementation dates of the systems under development, many of these licensees have progressed too far and committed too many taxpayer dollars to turn back now. I support the limited extension process the commission has put in place, if any extensions are needed and can be justified without harming those entities that have invested so much time and money to meet the long-mandated changeover.
Tom Shuler
Here we go again! Now, it’s LMR’s turn to drag its feet and repeat the same mistakes of the DTV modernization of two years ago. It is not like the industry has not had ample time to get ready for this change. This is just another example of public and private sector mismanagement.
Now, if there is going to be an extension, let’s just implement the 6.25-kilohertz emissions standard announced seven years ago and get it over with. That way, industry users who claim they need more time (and money) to narrowband will only have to do it ONCE! Now there is a real money-saving idea!
Paul J Toth
Communications Consultant

In response to “Walden Schedules House Briefing on EAS Test” from Nov. 15
The way to fix it is to exercise it, then make changes, then exercise it, then make changes, etc.
It's too complex and involves too many entities in a chain of potential failure that are disinterested in making it successful (broadcasters) to make assumptions, make blind changes, then expect it to work. It has to be tested with regularity.
Greg Carttar
Special Event and Disaster Communications
Missouri Disaster Medical Team
I live in north central Indiana. Many stations sent out the alerting tones fine, but almost no one I know heard the audio message. It was either very faint or was loud static instead. Can’t we have newer digital equipment that works well?
Phil Snider 
Thanks for the quick article. Hopefully we will see a summary of the FCC findings eventually. I happened to be on a field assignment driving in the Midwest. Using the radio "scan" function in the car, we found results ranging from a 30-second to a 3.5-minute test period. Music, talk show audio, clear messages, silence and a rasping and generally unidentifiable noise. All that in rural America. Based on my first-hand and very local experience, the full test results should be enlightening.
A.V. (Lex) Rutter

In response to “7 States Diverted 9-1-1 Fees During 2011” from Nov. 8
Wisconsin is another state that has diverted 9-1-1 fees. This started when Jim Doyle was governor and continues today. Public-safety answering points (PSAPs) get no money from the 9-1-1 surcharge on landline or mobile devices.
Gary W. Peske
Eagle River, Wis.

Either the utility doesn't understand radio or they are being sold a bill of goods. Why didn't your reporter point out that the federal government has been pushing Project 25 (P25) technology, and the system the utility is buying is not compatible with that format?
The utility will be on its own "electronic island" and not have the ability to connect to any other system.
Bob Reynolds
White Haven, Pa.

In response to “FCC Examines Aerial Solutions for Disasters” from Nov. 9
In reference to your article on aerial solutions for disasters, every U.S. Customs aircraft, which transitioned to the US Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine upon the formation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has had this capability for the last 15 years. Each is equipped with a Cobham/Wulfsberg FLEXCOM-II tactical radio package that consists of two multiband transceivers — approximately 30 – 60 MHz, analog wide or narrow plus Project 25 (P25) digital in the 136 – 174 MHz band — tied through a common control head. As such, each aircraft could become either a cross-band relay station with simulcast capabilities by the aircrew or an airborne repeater on any frequency pair within the capabilities of the transceiver.
The fleet ranges from small aircraft such as Cessna-210 and Eurocopter AS350 helicopters to Lockheed P-3 Orion airplanes and Blackhawk helicopters. As an example, after Katrina, an individual in downtown New Orleans was able to relay via an airborne P3 using a simplex channel in the 136 – 174 MHz range and access a VHF FM repeater located in Shreveport, La. This capability has been used on many occasions for both law enforcement and disaster relief.
Dennis Del Grosso
Retired Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent 
Office of Air and Marine
The Civil Air Patrol, whose aircraft you pictured in your article, uses airborne repeaters in the government VHF spectrum and has done so for quite sometime with no interference issues. Our only restriction is operation within 75 miles of the Mexican border. (I am located in New Mexico).
The repeaters are limited to 10 watts. We also have memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with several agencies within the state including the state of New Mexico to assist them in case of emergency. I do not know of any actual use of the system yet here in New Mexico, however, we train with them several times each year.
Capt. Gene Johnson
Civil Air Patrol
New Mexico Squad II
Communications Officer

The comments in this article point to several real problems with this transition. I have been in this business for more than 40 years and witnessed or participated in, everything from the first programmable radios, to beta testing 800 MHz trunked systems and all the FCC rulings along the way. I certainly have not agreed with all the changes, but one that makes the least sense to me is to go from one technology to another in making this change from Project 25 (P25) Phase 1 to Phase 2.
Mr. Jorgenson is wrong. It is a standards problem. The first thing some manufacturers internally addressed when Phase 1 was established was "How do we make it proprietary to our product?" If anyone thinks this is not what happened, I would suggest they pull their head from the sand and look at large manufacturers’ marketing practices past and present. Now Phase 2 is giving opportunity to manufacturers to completely replace what was sold in Phase 1 because it is totally incompatible.
Manufacturers love it! This move represents little or no fiscal responsibility in spending the millions that it will take to replace Phase 1 equipment. There appears to be no concern for the cost at a time when large and small communities can’t afford to move to narrowband, let alone move up to Phase 1, and now we are telling them they have to move to Phase 2. In some cases, this is a total replacement of their radio systems up to three times within a 10-year period.
This absolutely is a standards issue. If this "standard" allows manufacturers to make proprietary changes and features to "lock in" their customers, the standard is flawed. In fact it is far from a standard. I work with several commercial and public-safety customers in local rural communities. Most of their FCC-mandated changes have been paid for by grants from various agencies. The reality is that this can’t continue. It is also a reality that these communities can’t afford these changes on their own. Spectrum problem or not, this is reality.
Bill Kidd
Kidd Communications

In response to “Motorola Releases New P25 Phase 2 Portable Radio” from Oct. 24
This is a welcome step. Users will now have compact, rugged and reliable Motorola Solutions radios that are spectrum efficient thereby reducing operating expense. This is a unique achievement where in you have FDMA in 12.5 kilohertz and TDMA in 6.25 kilohertz, thereby doubling the number of channels on the same channel bandwidth.
S K Raina
Mobile Communications India
New Delhi

As a consultant, we can only assume the worst definitions of “harmful interference” and govern our designs accordingly. We have explained the rules, ramifications and our best interpretations to our clients and then what they do is their problem. We are typically accused of being overly cautious.
We see the 0.25-second data burst every 5 seconds as malicious, intentional interference and should not be allowed. The co-channel user was guaranteed the closest thing to an interference-free channel when he licensed it. If the FCC decides a 0.25-second burst every 5 seconds is OK, then what about a 0.5-second burst every 10 seconds?
This action is needed and will tend to define who the “bad guy” is when they license a trunked system. If the trunked operator wants a free ride, he should pay for it by installing monitor receivers and doing the other things required to avoid interfering with others or by buying the exclusive use channels. Good technique will usually find an FB8 and MO8 for each site and the “fill-in” FB2s and MOs should be monitored and controlled.
On VHF, unpaired repeater operation has simply ignored the co-channel user and allowed a mobile to key a repeater without monitoring the input channel and a certain manufacturer’s IP Connect ignores the output co-channel users of any number of remote sites. At least one manufacturer has encouraged ignoring what happens to the co-channel licensee. The other manufacturer that has an Icom-like product says in the manual, “Don’t adjust the burst timer interval because you don’t want the co-channel licensee to complain.” The introduction of digital radios has just made the problem worse.
Technology has gotten ahead of the rules and a major rewrite of Part 90.187 is needed — now — with concern for the co-channel VICTIM and the operator trying to find enough channels for trunking! Because presently, the definition of harmful interference depends on who complains the most. It needs to be spelled out.
James E. Sharp
Senior Communications Consultant
Power System Engineering
Yes, yes and yes. I have yet to see a trunking system control channel that conforms to the harmful interference section.
To be able to disregard this rule because the signal is "barely discernable" is unacceptable. To the analog system practitioner, this would be equivalent to jamming.
Greg Carttar
Special Event and Disaster Communications
Missouri Disaster Medical Team

Click here for the October 2011 Inbox.
Click here for the September 2011 Inbox.
Click here for the August 2011 Inbox.

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