5G SMARTPHONES: The future of police/fire radio ?

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Archie

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Read the Gizmondo piece on the history of public safety radio listening and read for my first time both AT&T and Samsung are developing 5G smartphones for public safety.

Are they serious? Could 5G replace all current VHF and UHF radio systems given time of course? If there is any
credibility over time with 5G can we expect Motorola to develop their own
systems?

So basically every portable as we know them now could give way to smartphones with walkie talkies capabilities while retaining all standard smartphone features.

Many thanks and stay safe
 

ten13

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Their setting up the 5G system as a way of accessing information, rather than radio communications, like building layouts, hazmat stuff, etc.

To do otherwise would put Motorola (who also makes cell phones) out of business in the money-making two-way radio field.

The question I have is: just how many times will the East Cupcake FD require access to the "building layout" of Old Geek's barn every time he has a fire? Big cities, like NYC, have gotten along without that information, since specific info about the fire building is usually only for major incidents or such....if that.

And radio communications for such things as mutual aide have come a long way too. Even where adjacent FDs are working on both UHF and VHF, there are radios which can handle both.

Everything they are developing today is all based on something that happened almost 20 years ago, at the World Trade Center. Interestingly, the three major agencies at that incident, the NYPD, FDNY, and the PAPD, for all intents and purposes, have remained, more or less, on the same type of system since then, with a few new technical "upgrades," which probably would have taken place even without the WTC.

So where's the need?
 

nd5y

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mmckenna

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Are they serious? Could 5G replace all current VHF and UHF radio systems given time of course? If there is any
credibility over time with 5G can we expect Motorola to develop their own
systems?
That's a very complex question.

FirstNet is built on LTE. It's primary goal was to provide some dedicated data access for first responders. Using it as a two way radio replacement is possible, and I know for sure of one agency that has done it recently. I'm not convinced that in it's current design it's an ideal solution, as setting up PTT type calls over LTE has some inherent lag that can be problematic in a number of situations.

FirstNet has said they are going to build out 5G coverage for FirstNet eventually.
It's NOT going to replace LTE, as the range of current 5G systems is very small. 5G won't scale well to the sort of coverage FirstNet needs. But 5G does serve a good purpose in high density urban and suburban areas.

Motorola, as well as several other radio manufacturers, have been building LTE into traditional two way radios for a while now. Most of it is geared around data, but they can run voice over it. It's a good option when you get outside your traditional radio system coverage area. In addition these radios have WiFi and Bluetooth.

So basically every portable as we know them now could give way to smartphones with walkie talkies capabilities while retaining all standard smartphone features.
Yes,
And eventually the sun will burn out and monkeys may fly out of my posterior.
There are already a number of smartphone type devices for FirstNet and they have PTT capability over the FirstNet network.
Motorola, Kenwood, Nokia and several others have ventured into this.
And then there's radios like the Motorola APXnext, that are built around smart phones with a two way radio added.

I would not say that they are going to replace all public safety communications any time in the near future, and likely not the distant future, either.
P25 is old enough to vote/drink and do other naughty things, so that's well a established standard. Not much more they can do with it. It's a "mature" product. The big radio companies are looking for the next thing they need to sell to unsuspecting tax payers. Pushing large scale LTE systems will no doubt happen for some large agencies.
But P25 systems, NXDN, DMR, Analog will all be around for a very long time. They are not going anywhere.
Remember, not that long ago we all had to hear about how P25 was going to replace everything, and all the analog systems would go quiet. I'm still waiting...

Don't sell your scanner yet.
 

ofd8001

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I rather doubt smart phones will be used for on scene communications, particularly the fire service, unless some major design changes are made. There are National Fire Protection Association Standards in place that deal with Emergency Services Communications.

A couple of snippets from the latest edition:

9.3.6.6 Portable radios shall be designed to allow channels to
be changed while emergency response personnel are wearing
gloves.

9.3.6.12* Portable radios used by first responders who might
encounter hazardous locations because of the presence of
explosive gas or explosive dust atmospheres shall be rated as
intrinsically safe for operation in such atmospheres by a nationally
recognized testing laboratory, if determined necessary by
the AHJ.

I couldn't find it specifically, but I recall reading somewhere that communications systems must be under control of the agency, rather than a third party such as AT&T due to reliability of available talkpaths, etc.
 

GlobalNorth

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The problem with 'smartphones' as PD radios is that NCIC, NLETS, and other law enforcement databases are not allowed to co-exist on platforms with internet access. They must be "air-gapped". This is a Federal standard.
 

GTR8000

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To do otherwise would put Motorola (who also makes cell phones) out of business in the money-making two-way radio field.
Motorola Solutions (public safety) does not make cell phones. Motorola Mobility, a separate company owned by Lenovo, makes cell phones. Motorola was split in two nearly a decade ago, with the cell phone half originally purchased by Google, then by Lenovo two years later. They happen to still share the "Motorola" name, but that's about it.
 

n1das

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Motorola Solutions (public safety) does not make cell phones. Motorola Mobility, a separate company owned by Lenovo, makes cell phones. Motorola was split in two nearly a decade ago, with the cell phone half originally purchased by Google, then by Lenovo two years later. They happen to still share the "Motorola" name, but that's about it.
OK, so then who makes the Motorola LEX L11 Mission Critical Handheld LTE Device? MSI or MM?

You piqued my curiosity because my wife and I each have an L11. We use AT&T Enhanced Push to Talk (AT&T EPTT) with them. We also use Zello. We no longer use consumer grade smartphones because we want the extra ruggedness and hardware PTT for PTToC apps.
 

GTR8000

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OK, so then who makes the Motorola LEX L11 Mission Critical Handheld LTE Device? MSI or MM?

You piqued my curiosity because my wife and I each have an L11. We use AT&T Enhanced Push to Talk (AT&T EPTT) with them. We also use Zello. We no longer use consumer grade smartphones because we want the extra ruggedness and hardware PTT for PTToC apps.
Hint: the LEX is listed on MSI's website. ;)

Yes, technically MSI still builds some very specific public safety grade devices capable of operating on a cellular/LTE network. Examples being the LEX and the APX NEXT. To clarify, the comment I made was intended to point out that MSI no longer makes consumer grade phones; that part of the company was broken off in 2011 to become the separate Motorola Mobility company, acquired first by Google, then by Lenovo.

Solutions = American company, public safety/mission critical devices
Mobility = Chinese subsidiary of Lenovo, consumer grade devices
 

n1das

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Yes, technically MSI still builds some very specific public safety grade devices capable of operating on a cellular/LTE network. Examples being the LEX and the APX NEXT. To clarify, the comment I made was intended to point out that MSI no longer makes consumer grade phones; that part of the company was broken off in 2011 to become the separate Motorola Mobility company, acquired first by Google, then by Lenovo.

Solutions = American company, public safety/mission critical devices
Mobility = Chinese subsidiary of Lenovo, consumer grade devices
Thanks. My wife and I have had our LEX L11 devices for about 3 weeks and we absolutely love them. We also have Sonim XP8 Ruggedized Smartphones. While the Sonim XP8 is built like a brick expletive house smash the heck out of it rugged, the LEX L11 is also built rugged and has more of the features we want like industry leading noise canceling for phone and PTT calls. AT&T EPTT works works far better and more reliably on the LEX L11 than it does on the XP8. The bottom line is we won't be buying consumer grade smartphones anymore.

Right now I see devices like the Motorola LEX L11 being able to supplement public safety communications but it will be a long time before they completely replace LMR for public safety use.
 
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rs16

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The problem with 'smartphones' as PD radios is that NCIC, NLETS, and other law enforcement databases are not allowed to co-exist on platforms with internet access. They must be "air-gapped". This is a Federal standard.
I hope you're right. Personally, I don't understand 3G, 4G, 5G (I still have a flip phone) and much of the technical discussion in this thread, but I'd hate to see our radio hobby disappear due to this new technology. Unlike other radio modes and changes, this seems like a replacement for radios altogether. I hope I'm misinterpreting it.
 

GTR8000

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Public safety does not like being at the mercy of commercial carriers, that's pretty much the bottom line here.

LTE will always be run by commercial entities, and yes that includes the much-hyped FirstNet. Ultimately, regardless of how much we hear about it being a dedicated public safety broadband network, it's still built, run, and maintained by AT&T. It's still co-located at the same sites as the commercial LTE network, which includes non-hardened sites. The FirstNet core and infrastructure may be more robust in certain aspects than their commercial LTE network, but when push comes to shove, you are still at their mercy.

Public safety LMR systems are extremely expensive...obscenely so in most cases. However there is a great comfort in knowing that a P25 system owned and operated and maintained by a public safety agency or government was designed with mission critical voice communications from the start. A typical countywide simulcast cell comprised of multiple subsites offers a good deal of redundancy, and many issues that arise can normally be handled locally within a few hours time by making one phone call.

I'm not saying that LTE doesn't have its place in the public safety arena, however at this point it is not nearly robust enough to replace LMR. Maybe in the future, sure, but not today.
 

mmckenna

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I agree. I'd not trust AT&T Wireless with anything public safety.
We talked to them a few years back and explained the AT&T coverage issues we had. They have not addressed any of them.

We have an AT&T cell site at work, and 4 hours of battery backup and no generator is not "pubic safety grade" by any stretch of the imagination.
 

emcom

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I work part time for a small town PD. We are going PTT over LTE not with smart phone, but with what looks like a small handheld radio. Its is clearer than the P25 but is slower to connect and change channels. As long as you have it on and leave it on one talkgroup, it is fine. Plus, it is a couple hundred bucks at the most compared to $3,500. The P25 systems are pricing themselves eventually out of reach. Plus, as a small agency, we are told to go hold a bake sale or chicken stew and sell enough to pay for a tower to give us better P25 when the rest of the county has good coverage. We just happen to be between lots of hills and mountains. Its coming quicker than you think guys. Money will drive it.
 

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Small agencies can get away with making those decisions to go with LTE and PTT over LTE but large departments will not do it.
 

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Not to mention that whole issue back last year or two years ago with the California Wild Fire responders having issues with Verizon deprioritizing their data speeds and having issues with customer support. It wasn't until they put it in the news that Verizon had to go into PR mode and put out a statement saying they would speed them back up. That's why large government agencies can't rely on consumer LTE towers and services. Its not that it isn't widely available, its just that the cell companies have systems in place to save nickels and dimes by slowing down and throttling data speeds.

Just as an aside, I live in a small rural community, have full LTE signal, and use Total Wireless, an MVNO of Verizon. They intentionally and artificially 'deprioritize' or straight up throttle the data speed. Its pretty much like clock work, I can tell you the times of day the data will be throttled to almost nothing, and then as soon as a particular time rolls around, it will be up to the full 80-100 Mbps speed. When the whole pandemic started up and people got serious about it, for a few months there, they disengaged all the locks so to speak and I had unlimited data at the full speed all day everyday, but then they started throttling again just as soon as the next month of service started.

In short, that's why large agencies can't rely on LTE from cell providers as a main way to stay in communication.
 

mmckenna

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Not to mention that whole issue back last year or two years ago with the California Wild Fire responders having issues with Verizon deprioritizing their data speeds and having issues with customer support.
Verizon screwed that one up. However the agency shares a lot of the blame. The agency purposely put their own people on a limited data plan to save money. That cost savings measure bit them in the rear when it really mattered. Yeah, Verizon should have lifted the limits, but the agency should have purchased the right plan. This is what happens when bean-counters get control over public safety.

Just as an aside, I live in a small rural community, have full LTE signal, and use Total Wireless, an MVNO of Verizon. They intentionally and artificially 'deprioritize' or straight up throttle the data speed.
And that's why MVNO's are less expensive.
 

N4DES

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It is a little dated, but this it the FirstNet Authority and AT&T's stance on Band 14, LTE, and 5G...


FirstNet users will have access to AT&T’s 5G services that are set to be available nationwide by the middle of next year, but the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum will continue to leverage 4G LTE for years to protect public-safety device investments and key functionality, according to the leader of AT&T’s FirstNet team.
“If you flip all of Band 14 to 5G, then you’ve got device issues, because you’ve got first responders that don’t have the money to upgrade their devices [from 4G to 5G] really quickly,” he said. “So, we would have a whole embedded base that can only access Band 14 on 5G, and that wouldn’t be a good decision.”
 

bob550

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both AT&T and Samsung are developing 5G smartphones for public safety.
This sounds like a product in search of a market. ATT would like nothing more than to add up the profits from Public Safety subscriber fees, especially since growth in the consumer market has plateaued in the last decade. Since consumers are keeping their handsets for longer periods, Samsung stands to gain by opening a potentially lucrative market and increasing unit sales. Anyway, I just don't see many municipalities jumping on this bandwagon, particularly as many have recently incurred considerable costs by upgrading to P25 systems.
 
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