September 2013 Inbox
Monday, September 16, 2013 | 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 “FCC Requests Comment on Reducing Obstacles to Tower Siting” from Sept. 30

Editor:

As a past government employee involved in cell tower siting, I remember when the “shot clock” requirement was implemented. It made governments streamline their approval process a little bit, but I didn’t notice it helped spur more cell towers. It saved cell companies a little time but didn’t encourage better collaboration between organizations to spur more towers.

Cellular buildout is very reactionary. However, mobile wireless is critical for public safety and emergency communications. When governments approve new subdivisions, they ensure residents will have water, emergency services, roads and even TV. But they don’t ensure residents can make a cell phone call. With a solution like Mobile Pulse, governments can insert requirements for developers to work with cellular vendors to provide service before the first home is occupied. This is a better solution than a “shot clock.”

Kevin Capp
Mobile Pulse
Vice President, Government Solutions and
Chief Privacy Officer
Denver, CO

 


 

In response to “FCC Proposes Mandatory Carrier Outage Information after Disasters” from Sept. 27

Editor:

We think this is a great start to have cellular vendors actively reporting cell tower outages. However, we recommend giving first responders more insight including where service has degraded but not gone out. A tower may still be operational but coverage may have deteriorated because of a storm, disaster, number of devices trying to use the network, etc.

Currently most of the cellular vendors have notification email lists for the public to receive information about outages. However the email is so technical and difficult to understand that it is almost useless. It would be more ideal if carriers were required to update their tower status in a software program so the emergency operations centers can all be looking at the same information at the same time and not having to review cryptic emails or visit different carrier websites.

Kevin Capp
Mobile Pulse
Vice President, Government Solutions and
Chief Privacy Officer
Denver, CO

 


 

In response to “Sen. Rockefeller Scolds Motorola Solutions on FirstNet Allegations” from Sept. 23

Editor:

Sen. John Rockefeller successfully proposed legislation in 2009 that delayed the DTV transition because there weren’t enough coupons for consumers. At the time, there were a number of public-safety communications systems ready to turn on the switch to their new 700 MHz system and could not due to this delay. Why wasn’t public-safety communications important to Sen. Rockefeller in 2009?

Sean Johnson
RFI Americas
President
Twinsburg, Ohio

 


 

In response to “FirstNet Releases First Report Investigating Openness and Transparency Allegations” from Sept. 23

Editor:

Do we know who participated on the Special Review Committee (SRC)? Were they First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board members or from an outside organization?

Will the same people be reviewing the conflicts of interest query?

Bill Brown
Radio Manager
Virginia Department of Transportation

Editor’s Response: The SRC members were all FirstNet board members: Wellington Webb (chair), Ed Reynolds (vice chair), Dana Hyde, Suzanne Spaulding, Chuck Dowd, Jeff Johnson and Tony West.

The committee had help from NTIA staff members. The same group will also be reviewing the conflicts of interest. 

 


 

In response to “Lawmakers Request Investigation into Alleged Navy Yard Communications Failures” from Sept. 23

Editor:

As with all radio communications systems, if you don't have good signal strength, you won't have good communications. This seemed to have played out with one or more of the radio users at the Navy Yard. However, the details are thin and the complaints are high. It would help all those concerned if everyone got on the same page with exactly what radio system had problems and why. Only time will provide those details.

 

As for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) being the solution, that again would depend on just what kind of signal strength was available at the location in question. Going inside buildings and trying to maintain communications with your normal radio system may or may not work. The construction of the building, how far you are from the transmitting tower, and whether you are at ground level or below grade all affect what the strength of an available signal will be. Is FirstNet going to be any better? That will depend on all the above.

So far no one has provided any details of just what, where and how strong signals will be from FirstNet. Will FirstNet cover the whole country? I would strongly doubt it. We may see some reasonable coverage in major cities, but after that, it's a matter of how much you want to spend to provide coverage. Compare this to the current system of cellular carriers. There is no way you have good coverage once you’re outside any major city. There still is incomplete coverage even along the interstates between cities. If the major cellular carriers, with all their millions of customers, have not filled in coverage along the interstates as of now, how do you expect the FirstNet proposed system to even come close to match the current cellular coverage?

There are many unanswered questions that FirstNet is facing. Only time will provide us with what will develop for a radio system from them.

Note: These are my personal opinions and not those of the company I work for.

Jim Szalajeski
Radio Systems Engineer
Sytech
Alexandria, Va.



 

In response to “Sen. Rockefeller Scolds Motorola Solutions on FirstNet Allegations” from Sept. 23

Editor:

I have worked and been in business in the radio communications field since 1958, and Motorola has always attempted to push proprietary systems to eliminate competition and increase the cost to (particularly government) users. It never ceases to amaze me that the politicians either can’t see this or turn their backs on the obvious.

Competition is the key to value for taxpayer dollars, and proprietary systems eliminate competition.

Richard Boykin

 

Editor:

Your article describing Sen. Rockefeller's comments was well received. Finally, after having to endure such shenanigans for decade after decade, a politician has the courage to dress down the 800-pound LMR gorilla. Hopefully the taxpayers will start to actually get fair value for their money. The economy will be helped and so will LMR entrepreneurs. It’s about time.

Scott Adams
Adams Electronics Co.
Wixom, Mich.

 


 

In response to “FCC Allows Vehicular Repeaters at 173 MHz, Requests Comment” from Sept. 17

Editor:

Just a short comment on the subject of what appears to be a discussion of the input frequency for vehicular repeaters. The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has supposedly swept clean, or mostly, the 54 to 216 MHz NTSC television band for the use of expanded needs like this. Why refarm the control and telemetry frequency for this use?

There is one snag, however. I do know that in a few metro areas, some television stations didn’t abandon the VHF portion of the TV band. They just switched to ATSC from the National Television System Committee (NTSC) and stayed in the VHF channel 7 – 13 range. The low band split, 2 – 6, would be nearly useless for this use.

Charlie W Rohde
iNARTE cert 000399

 


 

Editor:

Was there any plan as to a standardized channel spacing plan like the 600 kilohertz used by amateurs? Otherwise, it will just duplicate the mess we currently live with on VHF.

Randy Jones
Senior Telecommunication Specialist
Northeast Region
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

 


 

Editor:

Looking from the outside, I think mobile repeaters are one of the most needed pieces of equipment during emergencies. It is quick deployable and can be quickly moved to most needed locations. I definitely think the FCC should consider licensing more mobile repeaters. We have done countless mobile repeaters for organizations that need rapid deployable systems, and it is really a wonderful piece of equipment.

We have an organization that does rescue operations countrywide and worldwide. They have two mobile repeaters that they can quickly deploy. This has aided them in many earthquake- and flood-ravaged countries when they do rescue work. I can see how this can aid forestry, especially in the United States where you have devastating forest fires annually.

Leon van der Linde
Global Communications
Pretoria, South Africa

 


 

Editor:

T-band spectrum should remain where it is. Trunking is a great way to communicate, but it may not be the only solution for large metropolitan cities. These large cities like Boston and Chicago have voted receivers all over the place with outstanding “talk-in’’ coverage. The portable doesn’t need to see or hear a control channel to send a message, and that is not the case when you’re on a trunked system. Even if the officer can’t hear the dispatcher inside a dense hi-rise, he can get a message out to other officers that are on the UHF system.

That is not the case with trunking. If you’re in an elevator operating a portable on a trunked system and your radio can’t hear a control channel, then you have no chance to get a message out and that can be a serious issue for first responders in large urban areas.

Mike McNamara
Midwest Public safety

 


 

Click here for the August 2013 Inbox.
Click here for the July 2013 Inbox.
Click here for the June 2013 Inbox.



 
 
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