July 2014 Inbox
Tuesday, July 08, 2014 | 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 “Lawmakers Request DHS Investigation into Motorola Anticompetitive Allegations” from July 15

Editor:

During the last few months I have been hearing the rising drum beats to the McClatchy newspaper articles concerning Motorola Solutions. For the past 22 years, I have been employed by a Motorola dealer partner in a sales management position. My first radio sale was to a rural police chief pointing to a shelf while saying, “Bring me two more of them.”

The dealership that I work for had been a Motorola partner since 1960, and I was eager to learn the history of Motorola, as I felt that it would help me in marketing the product to our customers. With Motorola’s origins beginning with the Galvin brothers in the 1920s, I learned that Motorola has played, and continues to play, major roles in our country’s development for more than the last 80 years.

In World War II, Motorola worked with two communications pioneers, Donald Hings and Alfred Gross, in manufacturing the “walkie-talkies” for our troops. A few years ago, I was at a trade show in Phoenix where I was honored to meet one of the last Navaho Code Talkers. We discussed their use of the “talkies,” and their impact on World War II. Since then, Motorola communications has been invaluable to our soldiers in the field.

A Motorola transponder on Apollo 11 in 1969 relayed the first words from the moon to the earth. Two years later, the Lunar Rover used a Motorola FM receiver to become what some have said to be “the first car radio on the moon.” The cellular phone you are now glued to 12 hours a day was invented in the 1970s by Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer. His Motorola team then brought it to market in 1983.

I have been at Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois, having to take a tour detour because a natural disaster occurred somewhere in the world, and staff sectioned off its disaster response area. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I witnessed the convoy of Motorola two-way radios and emergency infrastructure to provide the cities, counties and parishes affected with public-safety communications in their greatest time of need.

The call came out, and Motorola partners from across the South sent technicians to cities such as New Orleans; Mobile, Alabama; and others, to bring systems online as quickly as possible. Service vehicles loaded with 5-gallon cans of gasoline, diesel and generators were sent to power repeaters for emergency personnel.

I read the articles and recall a letter from Chief Steve Prator of the Shreveport Police Department on Jan. 5, 1994, with a picture showing the Motorola portable assigned to Corporal Rhonda Hall in her house fire of 1993. The fire department estimated that the talkie was subjected to 1,000 degrees plus. In Chief Prator’s words, “In examining the photograph taken at the scene, you can see in spite of the intense heat, the framework of the talkie appears in relatively good shape, and it is still functioning. This certainly does make a positive statement regarding the workmanship of this equipment.”

All of the other manufacturers screaming about “choice” seem to have forgotten that it is up to the end user to determine choice. I drive a certain model vehicle because it has proven itself to me over time to be dependable. Yes, there are other choices that I can make, with certainly more bells and whistles available to me. And yes, I can even get from A to B in a less expensive vehicle if I wanted. But I don’t want to.

In this politically correct world in which we live, we seem to fall into the trap of trying to be fair to everyone, even if they haven’t paid the price that others have paid for their place in the world. Tomorrow if the NFL decided that the only way to be fair would be to write the names down of every team on a piece of paper, drop it in a hat, and pick the winner of the Super Bowl for 2015, this would be the only way that less qualified teams could get a fair shake. Could you imagine the week that the NFL commissioner would have?

I have personally sold thousands of two-way radios since the small town police chief pointed at that shelf. And I also know that in using these Motorola radios, thousands of people have keyed the push-to-talk (PTT) button and made split-second, life-changing decisions. How many lives have they saved? Motorola has a slogan that reads, “We help people be their best in the moments that matter.”

I am not a spokesperson for Motorola, nor in this correspondence am I representing the Motorola partner that employs me. In my opinion, it comes down to a simple conclusion. All I hear from the competitive manufacturers of two-way products is, “We can do that also.” All I have ever heard from Motorola is, “Look at what we’ve done.”

Rick Mitchell
Vice President of Sales
Shreveport Communications  

 

Editor:

My fire district is a subscriber on the VHF/700/800 MHz Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network (MOSWIN) supplied by Motorola Solutions.

The state folks had the foresight to specify, in no uncertain terms, that no proprietary features were to be enabled in the system that would preclude any capable brand radio from operating on the system.

Among the prohibited features was encryption, some would say due to customer confusion of Motorola proprietary ADP vs. interoperable encryption formats.

There are Motorola, Kenwood, Icom America, Harris, EFJohnson, Thales and various other brands certified for use on MOSWIN, and are in fact in daily use.

That said, since MOSWIN is a multiband system (VHF rural, 700/800 MHz metro), and because future buildout in the rural areas will be 700 MHz due to exhaustion of available VHF frequency resources, the grant program is only applicable to dual-band (VHF and 700/800) radios. VHF-only or 700/800 MHz-only radios of any brand would find themselves at a disadvantage as MOSWIN builds out.

There are competing single band lower-tier brands/models that are in use on MOSWIN, with the caveat that future buildout may limit their talk group availability during high traffic congestive incidents. However, single-band radios from any manufacturer are ineligible for the grant program.

The single biggest problem in these very large systems is a lack of sophistication in the customer and an ability to make complex decisions regarding those systems.

Greg Carttar, CHS-V
Special Event and Disaster Communications
Central Taney County (Missouri) Fire Protection District

 


 

In response to “EWA Supports LMCC Petition for Expansion of Conditional Licensing Authority” from July 25 and “FCC Issues $10,000 Penalty Against Acumen Communications” from July 30

Editor:

Although the first article stated clearly the position of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) and the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC), it did not indicate that some comments were filed that did not completely support the EWA/LMCC position. If you read the comments from Mobile Relay Associates, they are quite self-explanatory and outline flaws in the conditional licensing scheme. It should be noted that one of the offenders of the conditioning license framework was Acumen Communications, the company that was fined $10,000 according to the second article.

Mark J. Abrams
Mobile Relay Associates
Paramount, California

 


 

In response to “FCC Fines 2 Amateur Radio Operators for Interference” from July 23

Editor:

It is way past time for this non-representative of the hobby amateur radio license holders to be silenced. No one, no matter how much they believe it to be true, is above the FCC rules and regulations. 

I could think of lots of good things to use that kind of money ($32,000) for, other than giving that amount of money to the general fund.

These people should be banned permanently from operating, owning or being in the presence of transmitting equipment of any kind for the rest of their lives. They should also get some prison time for their activities. 

John Cartwright, WA8LGM, WQTZ773
North Olmsted, Ohio

 


 

In response to “Public-Safety Narrowband Voice Systems Can’t Be Abandoned” from July 8

Editor:

In my opinion today’s narrowband LMR systems will never be abandoned. There is no one device, system, technology that is the best for everyone in every location.

Furthermore, we live in world full of limitations (money, physics, money, knowledge, money) that cause us to always consider these limitations in our never-ending decision process.

To sum up, narrowband LMR systems will always coexist with wideband technologies

Przemo
Firefighter from Poland

 

Editor:

I just read the article written by Mr. McEwen. Bravo! Someone who finally got it right! Just because something is new is not a reason to abandon what has worked well for so many years, and voice will always be the mainstay of emergency communications. Thank you, Mr. McEwen.

Mitch
30-year medic

 

Editor:

This is critical information for those of us at a stage where we are “kicking the tires” of the public-safety broadband network (PSBN) possibilities in Canada. I thoroughly agree with Harlin regarding the criticality of push to talk (PTT) voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE), but I was surprised to read his time projection for its availability. Thank you for your informed opinion on this matter, Harlin.

Terry Canning

 

Editor:

I agree 100 percent with Harlin. I doubt if a cell phone will ever be able to replace the push to talk (PTT) two-way radio. It can be a good helper in sending data and pictures and video. The radio, however, can have the immediate action without needing to dial a number first. I don't know how they are going to be able to get an affordable way of doing simplex communications on an LTE cell phone.

I say keep the radio for critical communications and use the LTE network to aid in critical situations.

Leon van der Linde
Global Communications (Kenwood)

 

Editor:

Great article, and I agree 110 percent. I'd like to also add a couple of things into the discussion. If more public-safety professionals start telling the public that the cell phone is NOT an emergency communications tool, that might help cut down the silly 9-1-1 calls that aren't life and death. If they used landlines, the 9-1-1 system would have their location and address as well.

When 9-1-1 came out, it should have been set up a little differently: 9-1-1 for life and death only and for everything else give a local 7- or 9-digit number to call. Yes I know about the funding problems and to qualify for funding you need so many calls, etc., but it might have been better in the long run.

As a former cellular engineer, most of the public feels that the cell phone is for emergencies and help will come to fix their problem. Yet they are the first to scream when it isn't working or jammed as in any type of a medium to wide-scale disaster.

If public-safety leaders told the public that it really isn't an emergency communications tool then I suspect that more would get involved in local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) programs and set up standing plans with their kids in school rather then relying on the cell phone to call a mom or dad. I shudder thinking of 1,500 or so parents showing up at a school to get their kids after a quake all at about the same time as we are having aftershocks.

Dennis Smith
Los Angeles County Communications

 


 

In response to “Federal Court Rules Fitzgerald’s Emails Belong to FirstNet” from July 8

Editor:

What a bunch of bologna! The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is funded by taxpayer dollars. Their files and work should be public record and subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This ruling just makes Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald’s complaints seem that much more valid.

Helen L. Norris
Director
Logan County Emergency Management Agency (EMA)
Bellefontaine, Ohio



 

In response to “New P25 ISSI Features Set to Boost Demand” from July 2

Dear Editor:

I just have to ask, Project 25 (P25)? What standard? Everyone has a different flavor of P25 and never shall they meet. P25 was supposed to be an open standard, yet the large vendors have clearly implemented their own feature sets, some of which are not compatible.

Even the author understands that much, as clearly established at the beginning of the article here…. “For example, an ISSI gateway could connect a standalone Motorola Solutions P25 network to a Harris P25 network.” Could connect? Really? Didn’t everyone receive assurances that these vendors were supposed to produce equipment that was vendor neutral?

P25 is a vast unmitigated failure whose political and industry proponents simply flush millions of dollars down the drain for negligible benefit. Cost of equipment has quadrupled, and the only real beneficiaries are the large system vendors. The taxpayer and their public-safety agencies are left holding the now-empty bag as corporate parasites fleece them for every red cent. Meanwhile overall coverage and performance of radio systems has declined, leaving public safety much worse off than before. Where regional coverage was once accomplished with five sites it now takes 10 sites at four to five times the cost. How has P25 helped anything?

I see a similar pattern repeating with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE). What good is any of this if it’s not affordable, benefits are clearly in doubt, and the same vendors get to push the largely uninformed customer into bad decisions?

Norm Alexander

 


 

In response to “FCC Proposes $25,000 Fine Against New York Man for Public-Safety Interference” from June 27

Editor:

This person deserves to pay every penny of this fine and to be debarred from ever being allowed to own a two-way radio for life.

I wish that the FCC would do such operations in the Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio area. We have a few operators on our ham bands who are scofflaws and who do the same thing. The problem is that complaints are made over and over and (apparently) nothing much happens. 

I hope that this idiot seems fit to have learned his lesson as to how much fun it is to interfere with licensed operations of licensed stations. Such activity is reprehensible no matter what the venue, but doing this on a public service frequency, thinking that "I am too smart for them. They'll never catch me!" is a fallacy. 

Greatest thanks and appreciation to the FCC Enforcement Bureau and all of the agents involved! 

John Cartwright, WA8LGM, WQTZ773
Midwest Railway Preservation Society
Cleveland, Ohio

 


 

Click here for the June 2014 Inbox.
Click here for the May 2014 Inbox.
Click here for the April 2014 Inbox.

 


 



 
 
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Comments
On 9/6/16, Richard Sherman said:
The most critical component of any interoperability venture is for both sides to WANT to INTEROPERATE.

Today most interoperability gateways — ISSI and CSSI gateways — have become an expensive feature that everybody wants but get little use.

Furthermore P25 vendors view open standard connections as a threat to their own systems and offerings so OEMs are known to price the ISSI and CSSI into the stratosphere to keep other P25 systems away from unwilling ISSI connections.


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