November 2012 Inbox
Thursday, November 15, 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.
 

In response to “Inbox: Reader Feedback about “3 Agencies Moving to 700/800 MHz Systems Get VHF/UHF Narrowbanding Relief” from Nov. 9 (Editor's Note: See below)
 
Editor:
 
I’m sorry that Mr. Koehnen’s experience with filing extension requests has been so negative. Fortunately, I can report that each of our requests (filed on behalf of our clients) have been granted by the FCC in record time, some in a matter of days. In each case, we strictly followed the commission’s previously provided extension guidelines.
 
Alan Tilles
Chairman
Telecommunications Department
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker
 

 
In response to “Inbox: Reader Feedback” about “Six Companies Complete dPMR Interoperability Tests” from Nov. 20 (Editor's Note: See below)
 
Editor:
I would like to comment on Burch Falkner’s comments. I agree that some organizations like to purchase unique product lines and then suffer the consequences. They leave themselves open to abuse.
 
I remember a police department that bought a radio system from one of the big manufacturers at a very good price. The first three orders were very well priced. Number four order suddenly was sky high, because the manufacturer had the department in the palm of its hand, and there was no competition. The manufacturer now had to recoup its losses through the enormous discount it gave.
 
We see it everyday in our country as well, where state departments do the same through very sly salesmen. Interoperability is the thing. Compatibility keeps suppliers on their toes. Convince your states and counties not to go for the proprietary equipment. They bite you in the back one day.
 
Leon van der Linde
Technical Support and Training
Global Communications
Pretoria, South Africa
 

 
In response to “Six Companies Complete dPMR Interoperability Tests” from Nov. 20
 
Editor:
 
We have had much to say on the subject of communications interoperability over the past year. Mostly, our comments have not been favorable since we had better interoperability in 1960 than we do today.
 
As a case in point, the state of Mississippi has spent millions of dollars on a statewide 700 MHz Project 25 (P25) trunking system. Until recently, only a single vendor was acceptable. However, over time, other vendors were finally able to gain approval. So what happened? Two of the largest populated counties in the state moved to an alternate closed standard technology.
 
The premise was that they could not afford the higher priced P25 equipment selected by the state. But they could afford a closed standard alternative with no competitive offerings. This appeared to be acceptable to all concerned because they could use a "bridge" to connect between the state system and the county/city systems. Did I happen to mention that the approved bridge equipment is also limited to a single vendor?
 
On the bright side, there are some nations that are developing open equipment standards, one of which is China, which by the way, is the home of the largest communications manufacturer in the world — Hytera — which is producing more than 60,000 radios per month. Hytera has now surpassed Motorola as the largest communications manufacturer in the world, and they did it and are doing it, by doing business in the old fashioned way — good products at fair prices based on open standards and free market competition. For those of you who are entrusted with spending taxpayer dollars and buying sole source based on closed standards, shame on you.
 
Burch Falkner
President
Falcon Wireless Direct
Birmingham, Ala.
 

 
In response to the Quarter 4 2012 issue of RadioResource International magazine
 
Editor:
 
I really enjoy reading your editorials in RadioResource International. They give me precise insight and understanding of the whole contents of each of the magazines I receive. Thank you many times.
 
I must declare that I am now more technically minded and oriented than before, as a result of your periodical magazine, which furnishes me with current and up-to-date news on communications technologies. I highly commend your efforts.
 
Issa Idowu Akanbi
 

 
 
Editor:
 
If memory serves me correctly, the original FCC ruling was issued while there was still a goal of implementing full 6.25-kilohertz compliance in 2018. That would have made sense. However, because there is currently no date certain for implementation of mandatory 6.25-kilohertz operation, it seems to me that there is no reason for any rulemaking relating to 6.25-kilohertz manufacturing standards. As Ritron correctly pointed out, there is no standard. The lack of a standard puts the manufacturer at risk in making a choice of which 6.25-kilohertz technology to follow.
 
Implementation of this requirement would virtually destroy continuation of affordable, proven and reliable analog wireless devices. The net result would almost certainly result in higher cost to the consumer with no calculable benefits.
 
Burch Falkner
President
Falcon Wireless Direct
Birmingham, Ala.
 

 
 
Editor:
 
In response to the statement: “It is time for an honest conversation about network reliability in the wireless and digital age.”
 
I have always believed that if you don’t ask the right questions you will not get the right answers. The question is not how we get backup power to every cell tower in the U.S. in an affordable manner. The question is: Do you really believe you can move the entire communications infrastructure to an all RF media? If anyone capable does the math, you will discover that there is not enough RF spectrum to handle the capacity of millions talking all at the same time on such an infrastructure, which is what happens in a full-scale state or multistate disaster event. Even if there was enough power, you would not have the spectrum to handle all the calls.
 
The U.S. government should not be rushing to make us an all RF dependent nation. We should be moving toward an all fiber digital landline nation with RF infrastructure as a convenience or backup. This would include cell and satellite networks. Public-safety organizations need to be reliant on an RF infrastructure with backup systems — not the public. And if you believe that you can mix the two, to function on the same systems, you are headed down the wrong road.
As a side note: I am a firm believer in letting the free market determine its needs when it comes to consumer communications needs.
 
Yes, let’s have an honest conversation, but we should at least be asking the right questions.
 
Reid Ashbaucher
Radio Technician/Radio Broadcast Engineer
Toledo, Ohio
 

 
In response to “Sepura Launches Engineer Apprenticeship Program” from Nov. 12
 
Editor:
 
Congratulations are in order for Sepura! 
 
With declining enrollment in Technical Education programs, more companies need to step up and take an active role in promoting training, providing internships (or Job Shadow, Apprenticeships, etc…). 
 
Without the company’s involvement, to help provide training materials/equipment, guidance, etc. it will be very difficult for schools to stay on track and provide the needed training and skills development that companies desire.
 
I’m teaching a new Electronics Engineering Technology program in NW Washington state.  When I do presentations at local public schools, one of the regular questions is, “What does an Electronics Technician do?”  When I asked that question (to gauge the high school students’ level of understanding!), 300 students thought we “wired houses and fixed outlets…”  To me, this indicates a huge gap in knowledge and understanding.
 
As the world gets more complex and “more wired” and “more wireless(!)” there is a continued need for trained Technicians to troubleshoot, repair, calibrate, install, up-grade, etc. the equipment infrastructure.
 
If you are in a position to help make a positive contribution to the process of training the next generation of Technicians, STEP UP!  It can be as simple as visiting a local Junior High or High School and telling them about your company, or what you do at a Career Day presentation, or offering a tour of your company and telling the students what kind of employee you are looking for, the kind of classes they could take to better prepare for the job market, etc.  It could be providing a piece of equipment (that you have pulled from service!) to a local school, so the school can train Technicians USING EQUIPMENT THAT IS THE SAME OR VERY SIMILAR to what you use in the manufacturing process!
 
For more ideas, contact a local Technical Education Instructor!  They should be able to give you a variety of options!
 
Once again, Thank you Sepura!  You are providing a great example of how business and industry can help America stay strong!
 
James Swartos
Electronics Specialist
Communications Dept
City of Bellingham 
 

 
 
Editor:
 
Have you heard of any changes to the narrowbanding waiver process? I have four in the system and no action. Clients are getting antsy. I had an interesting phone conversation with an FCC worker in the pleadings group 10 days ago. The gist is something like this:
 
Koehnen: What is the status of our waiver?
FCC: Staffer showed me how to check for activity by the FCC. No action.
Koehnen: Are you considering the waivers in order of date filed?
FCC: Yes.
Koehnen: At what filing dates are you working on now?
FCC: Could not tell me.
Koehnen: Have you rejected many?
FCC: Very few.
Koehnen: What happens if you don’t approve the waiver request by Dec. 31?
FCC: Could not answer. Staffer suggested I file an official request for an answer with the FCC.
Koehnen: The closer it gets to Jan 1, people are going to press the speed dial to their congressman and ask for help.
FCC: Staffer sighed.
  
Leonard J. Koehnen, PE
Consulting Engineer
Saint Paul, Minn.
 

 
 
Editor:
 
The lack of a band structure is the greatest obstacle to be overcome in coordinating VHF frequencies, whether for analog radio or digital radio. Geographic separation is good, but when a repeater output is installed 160 miles from an existing repeater input, such as on opposite sides of the Columbia Basin in eastern Washington, loss of portable radio communications is the result. Even amateur radio has decided which frequencies will be repeater inputs and which will be repeater outputs, but Part 90 frequencies remain unstructured.
 
Tom Mahon
Communications Project Manager
Radio Operations, Facilities Section, Engineering Division
State of Washington
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
 

 
 
Editor:
 
When will the document be ready for use by cities and entities getting ready to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) for CAD systems?
 
Michael H Renaud
Senior Consultant
CGI Technology & Solutions
 
Editor’s Response: More information on the status is available here:
 
 

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


 
 
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