October 2012 Inbox
Thursday, October 18, 2012 | 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 edit@RRMediaGroup.com.
I have had an interest in communications for most of my life, but have never had the means of obtaining formal training. At this point in my life, I believe I would be able to do this and would love to be part of this endeavor with Mr. Marcus. I hope it comes to fruition. Please contact me if this project goes forward.
Capt. Joseph Hebert
Director of Training and Safety
City of Norwich (Conn.) Fire Department
Attaboy, Bruce. Great idea.
John Deans
Collins, Deans & Melocowsky
Glastonbury, Conn.
Congratulations to Marcus Communications for seeing a need and doing something about it.
Just over a year ago, I started a new Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) program, in northwest Washington State, with a heavy emphasis on RF, telecomm, fiber, laser, IT, digital, etc.
If you have any doubt about the need for electronics technicians, go to www.indeed.com and type “electronics” in the search box. Indeed.com is the best job search engine I’ve ever found. You will see that we probably don’t have as much of a job shortage as we have a training (or trained people) shortage. Jobs are out there in many fields, and many of the fields relate to electronics and RF topics.
If there are any companies or individuals who would like to help support the new EET program at Washington Engineering Institute, contact me at jswartos@weiedu.org.
Once again, keep up the good work, Marcus Communications.
James Swartos
Electronics Specialist
Communications Department
City of Bellingham, Wash.
Is there any chance that you can offer these courses online or through a self study program with information downloaded and tests online? 
Dr. Joe Palsa
ARRL-Virginia State Government Liaison
Editor’s Note: Bruce Marcus, chief technology officer (CTO) at Marcus Communications, said it’s possible that he will offer the courses online.
We experience the same problem on the southern side of the "pond.” The average age in our industries locally is 56 years. There is no new blood entering. The companies and organizations that used to train techies are now looking for techies from outside or are outsourcing to the few companies remaining to do their work.
The cell-phone industry is where the PC does your fault finding and tells you what to replace. There is no component-level analysis anymore. We also need to have this type of incentive.
We look for a promising person that finished college and then do on the job training. The problem is, somebody else always makes them an offer they can't refuse, and then they leave.
Leon van der Linde
Global Communications Kenwood
South Africa

In response to “Amarillo Receives Signal Boosters from Wilson” from Oct. 17
Just a quick question: Are these legal to use? My understanding is that to boost a signal on a carrier’s system, the user is required to have written authorization from the carrier that holds the FCC license.
I know Wilson Electronics has been selling its signal boosters for years. However, the carriers have not approved Wilson Electronics equipment for signal enhancement on their systems. If my understanding of what is required in order to rebroadcast on a carrier’s system is correct, I suspect there are a lot of users out there using Wilson products illegally.
Greg Lieber
Warner Communications, Corp.
St. Louis

In response to “DuPage County Launches Emergency Dispatch Interoperable System” from Oct. 11
Thank you for writing about the new DuPage system. The article was very well written and I appreciate the coverage of the issue. 
I'd like to share a few thoughts relating to the article that aren't immediately within the scope of it. In fact, it relates to the scope of the system, recommended interoperability and looming fiscal challenges for systems like it.
As a result of the DuPage County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) selected system, we now have local communications silos that didn't exist before, but were easily anticipated by ETSB and DuPage County officials who are proud of its implementation. I have not seen how the ETSB, or in this case, DuPage County officials are going to address this.
The ETSB's 9-1-1 fees collected from telephone company customers were used to pay for the Motorola APX 7000 radios, public-safety answering point (PSAP) consoles, and other purchased and installed equipment sold to the ETSB. However, the ETSB is generally precluded by law — I'm not an attorney — from spending the money on anything not related to police and fire dispatching. That includes purchases of equipment to be put in the hands of any other agency.
Generally that sounds like a good concept, except that some agencies that for years had established the means of contacting police and fire personnel for emergencies or on the scene are now outside the silo of 700/800MHz digital trunked radio systems like the one in DuPage. The other agencies that are supposed to be interoperable with police and fire personnel must find another way to communicate with them. It also prevents those excluded agencies from monitoring what was going on before other agencies and their members need to plan, prepare and mobilize. That can be a valuable head-start. This will likely mean more telephone calls for the PSAP telecommunicators to make and/or increased mobile telephone use by personnel responding to or already on the scene.
I tend to think this doesn't expedite things well or improve safety. More than 10 years after elected officials started complaining at podiums around our nation that our agencies can't communicate with each other it seems that this just adds to the problem it is supposed to solve.
In addition, it does not resolve the continued practice of fire and police personnel working at a scene — sometimes as close as within a block of each other — to advise their telecommunicator to telephone or radio the other agency’s telecommunicator to share information with the others on the scene from the other agency. This practice does not seem to be ending with the new system and meeting the federal recommendations for interoperability.
The new Motorola APX 7000 radio may have 100 talk specialized groups including cross-band patches, simulcast capabilities and gateways, but without budgets for exercises and continuing regular training, most stick with their established protocol. Daily interoperability requires either the responding personnel to change talk groups or PSAPs to bridge talk groups for them. If this does not become part of their practice and daily operations, we're probably not going to achieve the federal recommendations for interoperability even with a new platform.
All of this not withstanding, we're still faced with a bigger fiscal issue that I don't think is going to be picked up by the ETSB or the DuPage County board. There is an issue more of a concern than the $30 per radio per month airtime charges municipalities, not the ETSB or county board, will face from now on. The issue is that a municipality may not be able to easily budget for the replacement radios when the APX 7000 either becomes damaged or obsolete. Each radio is priced at more than $6,000. I am not sure how that money will be made available either from each municipality that received them or the ETSB that collects the 9-1-1 fees.
That should not get dumped on consumers and taxpayers, but probably will. At that point we will also still have non-police and non-fire agencies unable to afford APX 7000 radios or comparable equipment for their members. Rules now in state law also prevent otherwise legally authorized agencies that have a legitimate need to keep in touch from using self-help to program and replicate new system radios that they acquire on their own.
Add in the layers of governance for talk group access from the various entities that have talk groups. Certainly letters of concurrence can address this, but the authorizing others to access a talk group in Illinois is going to increase red tape we didn't have before.
I hope the ETSB and the county board get in front of this before the taxpayers and citizens of DuPage county face post-disaster communications failures.
Michael Leoni

In response to “Peoria County Granted Narrowbanding Waiver” from Oct. 15
EIA RS-152B specifies transmitter audio specifications for all U.S. mobile radio equipment manufactured after about 1980 for 25-kilohertz UHF and 30-kilohertz VHF channel spacing. 15-kilohertz VHF spacing was used if sufficient geographical (15 mile) separation could be provided.
RS-152B determines the emissions mask of the transmitter and the manufacturers did not nor could not "change" this in 1997 – 1998. Corrupt information. Bad science! It was also at the 11th hour that the commission decided to perpetrate this fraud. Previous to this 11th hour mandate, it would only be necessary for a licensee to reduce deviation and modify the license accordingly.
The commission employs some individuals, such as Dr. Tony Lane, who have the ability and background necessary to identify these kinds of mission-critical fatal mistakes.
It didn't happen. And all of those who don’t know better are on the bandwagon
following the FCC’s false, and maybe even "paid off mandate.” It is piled on stupidity and/or corruption.
There are viable arguments for the mandatory purchase of new equipment, but the emission's mask is not one of them. The commission is riding a horse that doesn't exist. Be assured that 12.5-/6.25-kilohertz technology would fit in just fine on 15-kilohertz channels. The 150 MHz spectrum below 162 MHz has been diced because of the further mistake of trying to fit 12.5 kilohertz channels into 30-kilohertz slots while leaving the incumbents on the same channel(s).
Now the FCC and Congress want to repossess the T-band.
Frank Moorman

“Such information is not unexpected, given the size of the LMR user base around the world. Each radio in this user base requires a battery, charger and antenna to function as a minimum and may also use additional audio accessories.” This is an interesting comment from Deryn Evans. It sounds like she has never seen a radio installed in a vehicle. Does she know what "LMR" stands for? No wonder the industry is being moved from using radios that are actually radios to radios that are actually cell phones.
Steve Riddle
Communications Engineer
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Division of Highways
Asheboro, N.C.

I agree that the individuals who are selling or trying to sell these jamming devices should be fined a large amount of money, but I do not agree that it’s the only punishment for these people. Why are they not getting prosecuted by the law and put into prison for their illegal actions — at least for the second infraction? I understand a fine for the first time, but a warning should be imposed if it happens again that they will be arrested and prosecuted to the extent of the law.
If we look at the irritation that people create with their smartphones in movie theatres, I would want a jamming device in every theatre. I would actually want them in school classrooms and some restaurants as well.
There is a legal market out there. The FCC should encourage that market.
Leon van der Linde
Global Communications
Pretoria, South Africa

Failure to plan on their part is no excuse. The city of Chicago could have dedicated a team to work diligently to make all this happen.
If they are allowed to do this, then the FCC should scrap the Jan. 1, 2013, deadline and drop any prosecution to any agency not in compliance.
Jim Tuggle

Click here for the September 2012 Inbox.
Click here for the August 2012 Inbox.
Click here for the July 2012 Inbox.

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