Potential BAD news for L.A and Bay Area Public Safety Radio

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Radio_Lady

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If it actually eventually happens, this could be a potentially huge and expensive mess for public safety radio in L.A. County and the Bay Aea, especially all of LAPD and LASD, and much/most of LACoFD, ICIS, LA-RICS, and others. What (or) ARE these people thinking???

From Dispatch Magazine Online, Dispatch Magazine On-Line**********|*news and information about public safety communications

Congress Passes Epic Spectrum Bill
Congress Passes Epic Spectrum Bill*|*Dispatch Magazine On-Line*********
February 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm

"After years of lobbying by public safety groups, today the U.S. House and Senate approved legislation that will fulfill the spectrum needs to construct a nationwide wireless network that will support broadband voice and data. The bill also includes NG911 funding, [BUT] a frequency band give-back

"...the bill allocates the D Block of spectrum directly to public safety, a 20 MHz band that had originally been set for auction to a commercial enterprise in 2008. The bill also requires an auction of certain vacated television spectrum, with $7 billion of the auction proceeds going to fund a nationwide public safety wireless network."

However:

"...Legislators wanted spectrum in exchange for the D Block allocation, and compromised with a give-back of the T-Band (470-512 MHz) being used by agencies in major metropolitan areas.

The story later mentions somebody's (editor? Congressional staffer?) comment that "The FCC’s licensing database shows 3,233 licensees in the T-band under trunked and conventional categories for public safety agencies. However, the total number of agencies affected by the T-Band give-back could be fewer than 500"

Isn't that nice?
 
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RadioDaze

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This govt. of ours is going to get us all killed one of these days.

"the total number of agencies affected by the T-Band give-back could be fewer than 500."
Sure... but those "few" "agencies" are only some of the largest cities in the country.

What a bunch of, ah, holes.
 

mmckenna

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This is exactly what happens when politicians are influenced by the industry to make decisions on things they do not understand.

While I can understand the need to supply data to responders in the field, I don't think this is the answer. Throwing money and technology at a problem doesn't mean it is going to solve it.

Once again, the taxpayers will get ripped off, the sales guys will walk away with their pockets overflowing with our money that they have helped themselves to, and the first responders will get stuck with systems that don't work properly.

Intelligence is being ignored because politicians think that if you throw enough money at an issue, it will get solved. Not sure why they keep making this mistake, over and over and over again.
 
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2wayfreq

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This will really mess up the coverage footprint if LA-RICS is forced to go to say..700MHZ for primary voice radio sites. From what I understand, you'll need quite a bit MORE tower sites to to cover the same area than UHF provides.
 
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swest90

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Wow, that is very interesting and sad if it comes true. The article states only 11 out of the 13, like thats a small number of the major metropolitan areas?

All this equipment, money, time and effort put into these newer UHF-T systems just to get a mandate to move in just over a decade, It took them nearly that long to even come up with the moniker RICS, let alone produce a document or make a decision. (j/k)..

I could say the benefit would be that their radios would have interop with Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino but with the dual band APX or Tri-band harris ect, thats not much of an issue anymore.

People really need to speak to their elected officials, or attempt to find and vote in a few that actually know something about some of these actual public safety issues. Equipment manufacturers and lobbyists will be throwing a nice party.

Shawn
 

Radio_Lady

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This will really mess up the coverage footprint if LA-RICS is forced to go to say..700MHZ for primary voice radio sites. From what I understand, you'll need quite a bit MORE tower sites to to cover the same area than UHF provides.
From everything I can gather so far, it really has nothing whatsoever to do with frequency bands or tower sites or even public safety.

Congress has been arguing and fiddling with this D-Block 700 spectrum forever, and they finally found a way to "resolve" it. But in actuality it's about financing the new and much-argued "Tax Relief and Job Creation Bill" (scroll way down to section 6001, page 118) by auctioning off the UHF-T band. The Public Safety radio issue was simply tacked on to the rear end of the jobs/taxes bill so both parties could say they got what they wanted - a jobs bill but "no new taxes."

Supposedly the Federal Govt is going to pick up the tab, 11 years down the road, to move everybody off T-band to somewhere, probably in 700 mHz band, but beginning today what UHF-T agency in its right mind is going to do much planning for any new system with that uncertainty looming ahead.

Granted it's "only" the T-band cities, but by definition those are the largest cities with the most infrastructure to deal with, but on bands each of which, as you allude to, has entirely different propagation - and therefore hardware - characteristics and needs. Kind of like the Nextel rebanding fiasco, but on a scale more localized but much more dense where it will be happening.
 
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K6CDO

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From everything I can gather so far, it really has nothing whatsoever to do with frequency bands or tower sites or even public safety.

Congress has been arguing and fiddling with this D-Block 700 spectrum forever, and they finally found a way to "resolve" it. But in actuality it's about financing the new and much-argued "Tax Relief and Job Creation Bill" (scroll way down to section 6001, page 118) by auctioning off the UHF-T band. The Public Safety radio issue was simply tacked on to the rear end of the jobs/taxes bill so both parties could say they got what they wanted - a jobs bill but "no new taxes."

Supposedly the Federal Govt is going to pick up the tab, 11 years down the road, to move everybody off T-band to somewhere, probably in 700 mHz band, but beginning today what UHF-T agency in its right mind is going to do much planning for any new system with that uncertainty looming ahead.

Granted it's "only" the T-band cities, but by definition those are the largest cities with the most infrastructure to deal with, but on bands each of which, as you allude to, has entirely different propagation - and therefore hardware - characteristics and needs. Kind of like the Nextel rebanding fiasco, but on a scale more localized but much more dense where it will be happening.
A few things to consider:

  • Just because the UHF-TV spectrum is being reclaimed under this bill doesn't mean it will be auctioned for Broadband. I've heard credible talk of an intent is to repack UHF TV stations above Channel 37 into the space between channels 14-36, so that 38-52 ('600 MHz') could be auctioned as additional spectrum for broadband systems. Based on that, "stay tuned for further developments."
  • The bill language sets the T-band re-allocation for nine years from signing, with an additional two years for systems to relocate (with Federal funding). Eleven years from now is 2023. In December of 2003, the public safety practitioner members of DHS' SAFECOM Program and NIJ's AGILE Program met in San Diego for the first joint planning session. The report out of that meeting (see http://www.safecomprogram.gov/library/lists/library/DispForm.aspx?ID=29) set 2023 as the goal year for an integrated system-of-systems, in regular use, that allows public safety personnel to communicate (voice, data, video) with whom they need on demand, in real time, as authorized. The report further sets the goals Public safety can respond anywhere, bring their own equipment, and can operate on any network immediately when authorized and public safety will have the networking and spectrum resources it needs to function properly.
  • Eleven years (2023) is an eternity in technology. We are already seeing more and more capacity packaged into smaller public safety-grade two-way radios and smaller smartphone devices. Combine the capabilities into one housing, and a device the size of today's top-tier two-way radios can be both a front-line voice device operating on tactical narrowband channels at 150, 450, 700 and 800, AND operate on a broadband backbone for dispatch, data, and to view/provide video.
It may well be that in eleven years the requirement for the amount of spectrum we in public safety use today will have been reduced, due to technologies like P25 Phase 2 (or later, as yet undefined phases) and the integration of broadband.
 

karldotcom

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"And 22 years after 9/11, the nation finally achieved interoperability."

Does that mean the Feds will pay for LA RICS and NYPD?
 

K6CDO

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"And 22 years after 9/11, the nation finally achieved interoperability."

Does that mean the Feds will pay for LA RICS and NYPD?
That is how I read the funding for the relocation of the public safety systems in UHF-T, yes.
 

ipfd320

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This issue was brought up in several threads on the site..with the same results and answers...7 Billion Dollars aren,t going to go far across the whole country
 

inigo88

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I don't think it's at all a coincidence that this news comes amidst the NTIA pulling the plug on the FCC's Lightsquared debacle, in which they attempted to greenlight a wireless broadband company to use spectrum adjacent to that assigned to GPS, which would all but cripple the GPS system and everyone who relies on it.

FCC to pull plug on Falcone’s LightSquared - Post Tech - The Washington Post

Whoever is in charge at the FCC these days, it seems like they're more concerned with their own financial profit than the safety of those in the military, and the aviation and public safety communities.
 

mmckenna

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Whoever is in charge at the FCC these days, it seems like they're more concerned with their own financial profit than the safety of those in the military, and the aviation and public safety communities.
This isn't something new, the FCC has been acting this way for quite a while. Ever since the government realized they could make a quick buck auctioning off a limited resource to the highest bidder, OUR airwaves have been up for grabs.
 

SCPD

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How many UHF TV channels have been allocated to public safety, both the UHF-T band and the 700 MHz band? How many UHF TV channels are left. It would seem to me that with some planning and consolidation that we could allocate a lot of spectrum to a nationwide radio system. I wonder what the percentage of TV viewing in the U.S. utilizes over the air reception as opposed to satellite and cable. How many UHF TV channels do we need then? Will 10 or 20 in larger cities be needed? If that be the case why don't we reduce the UHF TV allocation to 20 channels and release the remainder to other uses?

Back in the 1950's when the UHF TV channels were allocated, Congress foresaw the need for lots of TV channels, for local special audience stations, for special topics, and different types of networks for major broadcast TV repeat airings, for more local news, etc. This was good thinking, but the growth of satellite and cable was not foreseen. Congress did not imagine land mobile radio using those frequencies as low band VHF use was just penetrating most areas of the country. It would seem that the UHF TV industry is getting more than they deserve considering the events of the past 50 years.

Am I missing something?
 

karldotcom

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It is my understanding that when the big conversion to digital television took place, most of the channels were moved up into UHF....and this bill now is going to move them all back into VHF because there were no buyers for the VHF spectrum.

As for Over the Air Viewers, estimates range from 8% to 15% of the population are getting signals over the air..... and I just read a report yesterday that 4 million people had cut their cable/satellite last year, either to watch OTA or watch shows via online.
 
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mmckenna

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How many UHF TV channels do we need then? Will 10 or 20 in larger cities be needed? If that be the case why don't we reduce the UHF TV allocation to 20 channels and release the remainder to other uses?

Am I missing something?
I hope this doesn't sound like a conspiracy theory thing, but here is my view on it:

The FCC is a good source of income for the government. Whenever the feds need more cash, they seem to turn to the FCC and have them auction off some spectrum. They've done it before, and they will do it again.
If they opened up that much spectrum, by dropping all those UHF TV channels, there would suddenly be a glut of spectrum on the market. That would drive the prices down. The FCC wants to keep the auction price for spectrum high. By creating an artificial shortage of something, they can keep the price high.
Likely, they will keep doing this, letting little blocks of spectrum trickle out of the system, bit by bit, and selling at a premium.

The government has already eluded to the idea of abolishing broadcast TV. If the numbers quoted above are correct, we will either see the FCC do away with broadcast TV in the next 20 years, or we will see the local stations drop out due to decrease in advertising income.

Spectrum being used for Public Safety use is a low priority to the FCC, look how long it took for all this to happen. If this was going to go to private carriers, it all would have happened a long time ago. I strongly believe that the FCC wants the "D" block frequencies to be used by a large carrier and sold back to public safety. Obviously it's going to take some large established company to run any large network, local agencies don't have the knowledge or staff to do it right, not to mention the money. What will likely happen is that the spectrum will get auctioned off to one of the larger carriers by market. That carrier will get to run the public safety LTE network, and turn around and charge public safety agencies some fixed amount.

Sort of like cable TV, satellite TV, and your cell phone. FCC doesn't want local agencies running these systems, that will be a nightmare in trying to manage all of that. Ideally they will want a few companies to run the networks regionally.

I may be off here, but I really don't think that most local agencies, of any size, have the chops to be running a cellular type network for public safety. Most have a hard enough time running single or multi channel systems as it is from a few sites. Imagine them doing this on a larger basis with MANY more sites needed to cover the same area, all the data backhaul, etc.

I think in the end, AT&T or Verizon are going to end up with this spectrum. They will run a network for Public Safety, and open up some of it to non-public safety users to help offset the operation costs.
 

towersites

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LTE Table Top Base Stations

I read that China is gettting into LTE Base Station Business. By the time 11 years is up everyone will have LTE Base Stations for pennies to the Dollar Like WIFI Modens are today. It will be very cheap to install an LTE nework. One of my co-workers went to a DEMO for a public safety network. He said there was not much at all to a cell site in the way of equipment.
 

mmckenna

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Yep, an LTE site can be pretty small. It's just IP traffic. A router and a radio in a box. Connect to an antenna and an Ethernet port and there ya go. Very over simplified description, but you get the idea. I've watched cell sites get smaller and smaller over the years. What used to take rows and rows of cabinets full of gear is now done out of 2 or 3 cabinets. As time goes on, this will get smaller and smaller. Smaller/cheaper equipment will allow more density and more sites. That will translate into more speed.

When all that happens, they'll be complaining about this old ancient LTE equipment and why don't we have the new XXX stuff, lets take that old inefficient LTE spectrum and do something with it. There will always be a demand, and we will always lag behind the technology curve a bit.
 
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