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Public Safety Radios - Future?

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jacobsmith

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Will public safety radios in the future look and operate more like TETRA radios? Small compact, almost like a cell phone. TETRA from what I've read is the most advanced digital radio system out there at the moment; you can use them as cell phones, for texting, MDT's, PTT; ect.
 

radioman2001

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Infrastructure for TETRA is very expensive, that's the price you pay for a light, low power, portable devices. Motorola and from what I have heard all the vendors are trying to push LTE which is a form of cellular technology. I hope it doesn't go that way since it would take a tremendous effort to build out a system to cover the area a simple LMR has for coverage. Also if I am not mistaken the TETRA systems out there are either private, private /public or run by phone companies, which in the case of the U.K. has caused some major problems with who is responsible for poor coverage and the monthly costs. There was a post some time back where the Metropolitan Police was ordering the field units to text instead of call due to the costs. I think that was what the cell carriers here in the U.S. were trying to do, a joint venture, but they couldn't provide the necessary bandwidth to Public Safety in the event of some emergency, and as usual politics came in and all of "D" block was assigned to public safety with some sort of frequency giveback 10 years from now.
IMO LMR is never going away,no matter how hard cell carriers and the FCC try.
 

MTS2000des

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Will public safety radios in the future look and operate more like TETRA radios? Small compact, almost like a cell phone. TETRA from what I've read is the most advanced digital radio system out there at the moment; you can use them as cell phones, for texting, MDT's, PTT; ect.
we had the same thing since 1993, it's known as iDEN, though iDEN uses different channel bandwidth and is proprietary. Nextel put SMR's out of business overnight in the 1990's.

at one time everyone in public safety had a Nextel as a backup radio and was the poor man's interoperability solution. then this hosebag cellphone company came along in 2005 and bought the company, and now in 2012 they are deconstructing the Nextel network to free up the valuable 800MHz spectrum to put cellular on it.

here's a couple of observations about TETRA/iDEN:

1)-it costs a ton of money to build out and operate a network like this on a large scale

2)-it requires a ton of contiguous radio spectrum to build out said network


the future of public safety radio in the USA? we'll be exactly where we are 10 years from now, paying high prices for yesterday's technology, buying the same crap over and over from the same people selling it.

so long as we let the vendors call the shots.

TETRA is a success because the EU governments created a consortium and said THIS SHALL BE...in the USA the corporations own the government, as the late George Carlin once said, so this will never be a reality here.
 

mmckenna

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Great observations.

There has been some TETRA activity in the US recently. I don't recall exactly who the users are, but I seem to remember it being an east coast based utility using them.
Motorola was fighting it for a long time, but it's been allowed.

TETRA is a spectrum hog, and it likely won't take off here with so much competition for spectrum. More than likely, LTE will fill the role.

And, EXACTLY, "D Block" will likely turn into another boondoggle. There is this huge rush towards LTE by some public safety agencies, and I think it's going to be one more epic failure. The technology is sound, but there are a few major issues that likely will not be addressed:
The systems require a lot of infrastructure, and your average public safety agency will not be able to afford to build their own system, period.
The big agencies that can, will, and will likely bring in a few other, smaller local agencies to the systems.
For the most part, LTE is only an urban thing. The infrastructure necessary to support the service is not going to scale well to rural applications. The 700MHz band is a poor performer for rugged topology, like the majority of the western US. Likely it will be useful in the urban areas of the East Coast.
The agencies that do build out these systems will need to do it with the assistance of other agencies to share the cost. This will mean the operation of these systems will be done by committee, and that isn't always a good thing.
Other than a few major urban areas, the rest of the agencies that build these systems don't have the man power necessary to support this type of service. That will mean that support and operation of these systems will get turned over to system providers. This will mean less control over these "public safety" radio systems by public safety. The systems will be controlled by for profit companies that will not have public safety interests in mind, but will be more interested in profit. The results will be officer deaths because systems won't work properly when needed.
The rest of the systems will end up as glorified cell phone systems. They will likely end up under control of cell phone companies, either AT&T or Verizon, maybe both, as they are the only ones that have the knowledge, technical staff and sites to support this service. The systems will be run on a cost recovery basis, and public safety will get their budgets drained. AT&T and Verizon will make BILLIONS off the local governments, and we as taxpayers will end up footing the bill.

Public safety LTE/D-Block is going to end up as another cellular/Nextel type service run by the carriers, mark my words. In the end, pubic safety WILL loose, and we the people will pay the bill.

LMR will still be around, and when public safety agencies realize they can't afford LTE, they'll go back to it. What remains to be seen is if the FCC will have sold out the spectrum from under public safety when this happens.

As with Nextel and the whole rebanding mess, Motorola will make money off it. They will make money off selling and operating the LTE systems (think Nextel/Iden). They will then make money selling LMR equipment back to these agencies when LTE evolves into just another cell service.

If you think that AT&T and Verizon is going to build out LTE for ONLY public safety, you will be mistaken. That will be the original rules, but eventually, the carriers will whine about how they are loosing too much money. LTE/700MHz D block will be bastardized and will get shared with non-public safety users to offset the build out costs (these discussions have already begun). The spectrum will not be sufficient to handle everyone, and once again, officer safety will suffer. In the end, LTE/D-block will be used as a back up service to real dedicated public safety LMR systems, and LTE/D-block will go the way of Nextel. Those 700MHz frequencies will then get fully turned over to the cell carriers just like they originally wanted. The only difference in giving D block to public safety is it will allow the cell carriers to charge a lot more to build "public safety grade" systems. They will end up with the spectrum like they originally wanted, and will still get to turn it around and sell it to the general public. Again, big industry will profit and public safety will loose.
 

K9WG

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Will public safety radios in the future look and operate more like TETRA radios? Small compact, almost like a cell phone. ... snip ...
Could they stand up to the punishment that transceivers do now? Being dropped, kicked, bumped into, hot, cold, wet.... I also could see something small getting lost quite easily.
 

mmckenna

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Motorola has a very much cell phone like radio for UHF MotoTrbo. Designed for hotel use. Looks like a toy.

I agree, cell phones won't stand up to this sort of use. As soon as they try to make them rugged enough, they are going to look a lot like a radio.
 

Raccon

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Could they stand up to the punishment that transceivers do now? Being dropped, kicked, bumped into, hot, cold, wet....
Yes they could. You need to check the specs of a particular model to be sure but most comply with the relevant MIL, IP, IEC and/or ISO standards regarding water-resistance, drop, shock, vibration etc.

I also could see something small getting lost quite easily.
Well, they are not that small yet, and again it depends on the individual model - there are also those for use with gloves and they can't of course be too small.
 
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Raccon

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Infrastructure for TETRA is very expensive, that's the price you pay for a light, low power, portable devices. Motorola and from what I have heard all the vendors are trying to push LTE which is a form of cellular technology. I hope it doesn't go that way since it would take a tremendous effort to build out a system to cover the area a simple LMR has for coverage. Also if I am not mistaken the TETRA systems out there are either private, private /public or run by phone companies, which in the case of the U.K. has caused some major problems with who is responsible for poor coverage and the monthly costs. There was a post some time back where the Metropolitan Police was ordering the field units to text instead of call due to the costs. [...]
There are also several TETRA networks that are operated by semi-/private or government organisations (which are not the end-users) and which do work well, with a clear scope of responsibilities, some nation-wide system included. You are correct about Airwave but it's not an issue with TETRA as a technology.
 

JRayfield

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I don't believe the SL7550 was designed with public safety in mind, however it's quite rugged, more so than one would expect. And for "covert security", it's ideal.

John Rayfield, Jr.

SL 7550 Portable Two-Way Radio - Motorola Solutions USA

They are already trying the concept with the Trbo line and I think this is the one that mmckenna was referring to, it's certainly not a public safety grade radio however.
 

mmckenna

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Mil-spec 810 ratings don't mean a whole lot on their own. 810 is sort of a main heading for many specific tests. Just because a radio passes a few, doesn't mean it will be a rugged radio. It just means the manufacturer designed it to meet a few so they can advertise it as "Mil Spec radio".
Same with IP ratings, but they seem to be a little more general. I think you have to look at the whole package.

SL7550 is the MotoTrbo model I was referring to. Not a rugged looking radio, but the idea is there.
 

MTS2000des

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the problem with LTE is the amount of backhaul needed to make it happen.

Backhaul and infrastructure are tremendously expensive. ever wonder why our friends at Verizon and at&t now cap data use on their 3G and 4G LTE networks to piddly 4 and 5GB?

Right now, there are agencies that have boot drives to pay for single portable radios, one at a time. The money simply isn't there- even if Verizon and at&t build out 700MHz networks, you think that your agencies will get free use of it? This is where the true hidden cost of these systems come out.

It's happened with the Airwave system in the UK. Sure it's great- but it's also expensive.

When you have your own LMR system, you only pay to keep it on the air. If you're enterprising, you develop agreements with other private entities (such as private EMS providers, security firms doing business with your county/city/state, etc) and rent them talkgroups to defray the cost of your system.

LMR will be around for quite some time. I see LTE augmenting, but not replacing it. It's just too expensive to build, operate and maintain.
 

mmckenna

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MTS2000des;1720923 LMR will be around for quite some time. I see LTE augmenting said:
Exactly. LTE will fill a need, but it likely won't become the "killer app" that will take over.

I am troubled by the manner in which they are going about it, though. While in a perfect world where money grew on trees and there was always enough spectrum to go around, it might make sense for public safety to build out their own networks like this, but that isn't the case.
Public Safety doesn't need another wide area radio system. There are many large scale P25 systems built, or being built out, that can support this.
Being able to support phone calls? Most officers carry their own cell phones, and they do use them often. There are already ways to give public safety and critical infrastructure folks priory on those systems (WPS).
They could likely do the same with the data side to give public safety data a priority.

Part of my concern is the cost. The other concern is that based on history, the taxpayers are going to get ripped off big time, and public safety isn't going to get the tool they think they need.
 
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