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Report Finds Public-Safety LTE Devices Have Speech Intelligibility Concerns

MTS2000des

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The same vulnerability? No, not even close. Of course, this all depends on how the system is constructed. We recently completed a new LSM system for a small city. Literally 1/4 of the cost for the project went into backup systems. They could essentially loose the entire primary core, the 8 sites, and STILL have decent city wide communications (no in building coverage guaranteed) for police, fire and EMS. This of course comes with a cost. I would say this scenario is rare but it is what the officials wanted after dealing with a terrible radio system for many years. Try having that much redundancy with a commercial carrier. Try getting the emergency support from a commercial carrier. You won't.
You just confirmed what I've been saying, redundancy and backup comes with a cost. A tremendous one. Especially once a system goes live. Ever priced DSR for a 15 site single zone countywide system after the ink is dry? I have. Absurd is an understatement. Try selling 7 figures to a board of commissioners just three to four years after they gave you 20 million bucks. "Why didn't we get this the first time?" Sure, point to the RFP, point to the consultants...at the end of the day, it's all about the money. Commercial carriers are gearing up to support us.

Our division chief went to a deployment after the state requested aid to an F3 tornado this year. Obliterated their venerable VHF analog LMR and the county had law, fire and EMS sharing a SINGLE repeater in poor shape. The macro cells that supported VZW, AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint were laying on the ground. He was able to reach out to AT&T/FirstNet (via a cable internet connection at that!)and within 6 hours they had a SAT COLT on the ground. This was in a rural part of Georgia. Within 24 hours, they had sat colts for VZW on the ground and up. Meanwhile, because the LMR support was so poor, the state ended up deploying RAPIDCOM trailers to get some load shed off the agencies' decrepit analog VHF repeater. My point is, the commercial carriers are indeed stepping up their game. Remember their customers aren't just a few thousand public safety folks, they answer to everyone.

I heard with my own ears more interoperability from groups like the Cajun Navy using Zello on cellular phones during Harvey. Houston lost their prime site at one point but yet all these awful commercial carriers you claim were able to keep their networks alive to the point where civilians using regular old iPhones and Androids had better comms than some of us with our 8 thousand dollar walkie-talkies and 50 million dollar DTRS networks. To avoid the evolution in technology and swear that LMR will continue to be developed at this scale is as blind as the big broadcast conglomerates who think they'll still be on that air funding massive high power, high site transmitters to an audience of 5 people in 10 years. The speed at which commercial carriers are running dwarfs LMR by the hour. Like it or not. Deny it or accept it. It's not stopping. Will sites go offline? Of course they will. Does it cost a fortune to deploy LTE? Yup, but it also makes a fortune, something LMR stopped doing two decades ago. No money coming in, it's hard to justify investing billions into something that isn't growing.
I've said it many many times here that some things are for sure a rip off. The first is P25. Complete rip off. I agree, some things are WAY overpriced. But, those overpriced things are at the complete control of the governing body. They can get quotes, prices, and competition. You can choose whatever type of system you want, the equipment you want, and the sites you want. You will NOT be having this advantage with FirstNet. You will also will not have the service that should be expected, you're at the mercy of a nation wide for profit (a majority of their money comes from civilian phones) and you're just a "customer".
But P25 is what was forced down our throats by the Feds yet the so-called "standard" is full of holes like Swiss cheese. It took years for the Feds to stop the nonsense regarding encryption standards and this was after hundreds of proprietary add-ons were sold. We all know how vendors play games. Buy a P25 sub from someone else, and they act all cold and throw up their hands. P25 is now ancient, dated technology with venerable security. You have to look no further than this very forum with posts full of hackers, whackers and stalkers intending on programming illicit subscribers on government radio networks. Most have no ill intention, but some end up causing us major headaches.

I've yet to hear of an rogue subscriber on someone's LTE or TETRA system for that matter? Yet, P25 still doesn't have viable, real LLE to stop dead rogue pirates with cloned RIDs that can potentially cost a user their life in certain circumstances. Instead, we have to rely on expensive proprietary software like Genesis to help us identify potential problems in real time. That is, if you have the budget for it. So many systems are set up and left alone because the agency doesn't have the budget to hire a Geek Squad of hard to find radio techs and engineers to babysit their expensive system, so they rely on radio shops which often have to juggle multiple customers' systems and things fall between cracks. Say it isn't so.

First Net is far from perfect, but it is also less than 4 years old. At least the Authority has some power to enforce things and force (if done right) contract compliance. P-25 has been on our plates for what, over two decades now and the compliance program is just getting around to being enforced? and under who's authority? The TIA? Let me know how that works out. We've dumped billions into these systems that have made a small number of vendors a ton of money, but in reality, we're no better off than we were in 1990 when everyone was on VHF/UHF interop wise. We did have more money to spend on things that really matter like more cops on the beat, more firetrucks in the firehouse because we weren't bleeding bucks on $8000 portables and $10000 mobiles, or $28,000 dispatch consoles.
Maybe that's what happens in your neck of the woods, but not around here.
Really? Last I checked, a typical MSI core runs on HP server hardware, the 2620 switches are made by who...Aruba aka HP. Sure sounds, smells and looks like repurposed off the shelf enterprise I.T. stuff to me. Other than the S6000s/S2500s what exactly is so special about an Astro 25 core hardware that doesn't have kissing cousins elsewhere in your racks? Sure, your GGM/GCM are custom hardware, purpose built. But where does a zone database server or ATIA reside? On some special, super secret sauce Colonel's recipe server? Not in my shop, or yours. Get real. This is overpriced stuff sold to us because we pay for it. We pay dearly. Sure, it's GOOD stuff, but it's not that much different from what passes the traffic I am sending this Internet posting on. It just costs 3 times more because it's marketed as "mission critical".
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Back to Firstnet, 7 years later, 4 years "on the air". Are there any significantly large police or fire customers using Firstnet for primary voice services, no LMR? I don't think so. But please educate me.
 

MTS2000des

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Back to Firstnet, 7 years later, 4 years "on the air". Are there any significantly large police or fire customers using Firstnet for primary voice services, no LMR? I don't think so. But please educate me.
First Net has only been live since 2018.

For those who say commercial carriers can't succeed, take a look at how AirWave has done in the UK since it's inception. Completely replaced LMR for public safety communications. Secure, encrypted, centrally managed, and cost effective. No wonder MSI bought them out from BT....must be the money. 19 years later, it's now on the way to transitioning to LTE/5G. So much for those who say it can't be done.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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First Net has only been live since 2018.

For those who say commercial carriers can't succeed, take a look at how AirWave has done in the UK since it's inception. Completely replaced LMR for public safety communications. Secure, encrypted, centrally managed, and cost effective. No wonder MSI bought them out from BT....must be the money. 19 years later, it's now on the way to transitioning to LTE/5G. So much for those who say it can't be done.
Airwave is tetra, operating at 400 MHz, with narrow band width LMR handsets equipped with antennas. The size and scope of the network much smaller than what would be required in the US. It is being phased out already, was not an instant sucess. MSI is not famous for good decision making.
 

zerg901

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form factor = chip implanted under skin above right ear

Just something to consider. In 5 years? In 10 years? Worried about cancer? Eat some broccoli. Hows your speech intelligibility now?
 

MTS2000des

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Airwave is tetra, operating at 400 MHz, with narrow band width LMR handsets equipped with antennas. The size and scope of the network much smaller than what would be required in the US. It is being phased out already, was not an instant sucess. MSI is not famous for good decision making.
and they are replacing TETRA with what...what for it...LTE/5G. MSI's decision is a sound one. They know what's coming, they have a history of buying firms who know their specialty, marking it up, adding their batwing logo, and packaging it as a "solution". They aren't stupid. They know that if they don't, someone else will.
 

12dbsinad

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You just confirmed what I've been saying, redundancy and backup comes with a cost. A tremendous one. Especially once a system goes live. Ever priced DSR for a 15 site single zone countywide system after the ink is dry? I have. Absurd is an understatement. Try selling 7 figures to a board of commissioners just three to four years after they gave you 20 million bucks. "Why didn't we get this the first time?" Sure, point to the RFP, point to the consultants...at the end of the day, it's all about the money. Commercial carriers are gearing up to support us.
My point that you completely missed is that this can be done with LMR. I think one thing you fail to realize is if tomorrow FirstNet took over all voice communications and replaced LMR, they would need to step up their game A LOT to meet the level of service expectations of public safety LMR. From sites to backhaul, these things are critical. There is a BIG difference from Joe Blow dropping a call while switching from 4G to 5G and a mission critical voice system. Everyone I've ever talked to realizes this, among other things like to direct mode yet.

I remember when Nextel was going to replace PS LMR. People like you swore by it. Some bought it, most didn't. Now it's in the history museum.
 

MTS2000des

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My point that you completely missed is that this can be done with LMR. I think one thing you fail to realize is if tomorrow FirstNet took over all voice communications and replaced LMR, they would need to step up their game A LOT to meet the level of service expectations of public safety LMR.
I'm not disagreeing with that statement, and I think First Net has quite a bit of work to do in this department. But it can be done (commercial carrier) supporting public services exclusively. I cited AirWave as an example, TETRA today (and since 2003), LTE/5G tomorrow. It's proven itself. It isn't some business radio ported over, TETRAPOL was groomed and vetted by multiple vendors for public safety/government. Hardened infrastructure, robust end to end encryption/subscriber authentication. You know, stuff like this horse poo doesn't happen...the kind of stuff that keeps us up at night. The kind of stuff that is now commonplace on these multi-million buck LMR systems that exposes true venerability: not just those $25 CCRs either. All that ceases with secure, encrypted, link layer authenticated and controlled technology, something P25 just can't do affordably, natively, and across vendors. Heck, RM is vendor specific. Got someone else' subscribers? Sooowwy. Come on man, that's crap. It's 2019. So the only option is to leave huge holes and leave your RIDs open so the Trailer Park boys can program up cloned radios on your billion dollar system. 25 years into P-25 and here we are, we've got nice new radios that personally I LOVE. But are we really better off than what they replaced?
I remember when Nextel was going to replace PS LMR. People like you swore by it. Some bought it, most didn't. Now it's in the history museum.
iDEN was never intended to replace LMR for public safety. And it never could do anything more than 2G data. It's life span was limited from birth.
LTE/5G is a way forward that has changed the way we communicate over RF on WAN's. you can fight it, and resist it, but it's not going to fade away.
iDEN gained popularity before we even knew what mobile data was capable of, but even in those days, the ability to interoperate without spending thousands on limited capability LMR was appealing to many, including the ability to natively operate in a secure environment without intruders or cloned subscribers.

You mentioned there in museums now, that's true- the Smithsonian at that, and those iDEN radios used by NYC Mayor and his staff during 9/11 when LMR became all but unusable remained functional and are credited with keeping much information flowing among command staff.

That is what those who author the basis of First Net were thinking of, not megabuck walkie-talkies that often require high maintenance, support and infrastructure to work. Simple devices that run on powerful, redundant networks that are cheap to deploy, secure and scalable.
 

12dbsinad

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I'm not disagreeing with that statement, and I think First Net has quite a bit of work to do in this department. But it can be done (commercial carrier) supporting public services exclusively.
Yes it can be done, but at a cost. A VERY big cost. Let's take rural America, the average AT&T site out in the woods is fed by another commercial carriers fiber network. Usually a no thrills, string the line up on the poles, CIC cabinets with NO generator backup only batteries, run of the mill network that would be suitable for a average business or homeowner. If the power goes out, you've got 5-6 hours of fiber backhaul before the batteries go dead. No backup. AT&T doesn't care, nor do they have a say of this. They pay another company to provide this service to them. These are the Monday details I am talking about. To change this, would be astronomical to them and if it could be done the cost would be passed on to the end user. Then who are they going to sock it to for that, the average cizizen with a cell phone? So they can jump ship and go with Tmobile because they are cheaper? Public safety going to pay? Somebody does.

iDEN was never intended to replace LMR for public safety.
When it first came out, it had a target market for public safety as well as business SMR. And, it was, you guessed it, CHEAP!

And it never could do anything more than 2G data. It's life span was limited from birth.
The IDEN system was state of the art for the time. It was like 5G is right now today. It had the longest run of any cellular network, ever.
 
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Yes it can be done, but at a cost. A VERY big cost. Let's take rural America, the average AT&T site out in the woods is fed by another commercial carriers fiber network. Usually a no thrills, string the line up on the poles, CIC cabinets with NO generator backup only batteries, run of the mill network that would be suitable for a average business or homeowner. If the power goes out, you've got 5-6 hours of fiber backhaul before the batteries go dead. No backup. AT&T doesn't care, nor do they have a say of this. They pay another company to provide this service to them. These are the Monday details I am talking about. To change this, would be astronomical to them and if it could be done the cost would be passed on to the end user. Then who are they going to sock it to for that, the average cizizen with a cell phone? So they can jump ship and go with Tmobile because they are cheaper? Public safety going to pay? Somebody does.


When it first came out, it had a target market for public safety as well as business SMR. And, it was, you guessed it, CHEAP!


The IDEN system was state of the art for the time. It was like 5G is right now today. It had the longest run of any cellular network, ever.
You forgot that the current deployment plan for rural America is to only deploy where it is profitable to do so. Some great examples I can think of off the top of my head...Hockley County, TX (just outside of Lubbock, TX), I have a friend two miles of a US Highway with LTE coverage (which has been present since 2010), until last year he had 2G at his house (and he only has 3G now). Brewster County, TX...largest county by area in the state, less than 10% of the county is currently covered by the three major carriers. When I worked for one of the fortune 500 energy companies out of Midland, I used to be able to drive from Lamesa, TX to 10 miles outside of Midland without any form of cell coverage on AT&T (which was after FirstNet had begun testing in Houston). Another good one used to be (haven't driven it in 5 years) I40 between Santa Rosa, NM and Cline's Corner, NM. AT&T only supplied 2G for the longest time (Verizon had LTE though) on this stretch of interstate.

While LTE will eventually be usable enough for reliable voice communications...it will be at least a decade (and cost the tax payers $75+ billion) until the coverage is even good enough to be considered reliable enough for public safety purposes in rural America.
 

MTS2000des

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The IDEN system was state of the art for the time. It was like 5G is right now today. It had the longest run of any cellular network, ever.
iDEN's appeal and life cycle compared to LTE/5G are as irrelevant and incomparable as baseball is to basketball. iDEN was, a voice network. LTE/5G is all about gigbits. The end game for LTE is to replace fixed broadband with wireless last mile. iDEN died because something 1000 times better replaced it: wait for it...smartphones driven by a superior 3G (UMTS) network. And here we are today.
While LTE will eventually be usable enough for reliable voice communications...it will be at least a decade (and cost the tax payers $75+ billion) until the coverage is even good enough to be considered reliable enough for public safety purposes in rural America.
This is where the carriers have to step up their game. Oh wait, their doing that. T-Mobile's nationwide deployment of 600MHz "low band" spectrum is targeted at rural areas. Bands 12,13,14,17 and 28 on 700MHz also account for coverage needs in rural areas. Sure the networks need to be built, but it's only a matter of time. 10 years from now may be a very different landscape.
 

KK6ZTE

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What kind of terrain do you have?

We have hills and mountains and many many square miles of cellular-free terrain. We can barely get AT&T to work in the city. FirstNet doesn't stand a chance out here--it's a joke to every system admin in the area.. You definitely need to be on their sales team though.

LMR isn't going anywhere anytime soon, especially outside of the urban jungles.
 

MTS2000des

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What kind of terrain do you have?
North Georgia is full of mountains, hills and valleys. Metro areas of Atlanta are full of trees, hills and mountains too. All the providers have had to step it up, and not just for government contracts.
You definitely need to be on their sales team though.
No thanks, I enjoy serving the people I work for. My job is to keep vendors accountable and ensure we get what we pay for.

I don't think LMR is going away completely, but you aren't going to tell me that in areas where 50-100 million dollar LMR trunking systems are being pushed, and LTE/5G is built out well, that it makes financial sense to keep pouring money into 20 year old technology that reached it's zenith decades ago.

The bean counters aren't buying it the way they were 15 years ago post 9/11 where blank checks were written out. They're looking for the bottom line.

A hybrid approach will be the end game, but the days of $10,000 radios are coming to an end. It's absurd and there is no real justification to keep burning taxpayers' money the way we have and expect different results.

For 20 years, P-25 has been pitched as the end all solution, but it isn't. It's made tons of bucks for a few though. Is it good? Absolutely, but not perfect. I don't think First Net is the end all either, but it isn't going away and it will evolve. Having real, powerful broadband to support MCPTT and data is a game changer when it is ready for prime time, and I think that isn't 40 years away.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Nothing about LTE/5G has been proven out as a PS LMR replacement anywhere.

Take a drive up to Maggie Valley in NC and tell me how well Verizon 4G cellular works. It does not, yet it is a huge tourist thouroughfare. My old Razr V3M works there, but beyond that the new phones get nothing.
 

12dbsinad

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iDEN's appeal and life cycle compared to LTE/5G are as irrelevant and incomparable as baseball is to basketball. iDEN was, a voice network. LTE/5G is all about gigbits. The end game for LTE is to replace fixed broadband with wireless last mile. iDEN died because something 1000 times better replaced it: wait for it...smartphones driven by a superior 3G (UMTS) network. And here we are today.
Nextel was the only nationwide all digital cellular network of the time. No 8 dollar roaming fees. Also the first to implement GPS in their handsets. The DirectConnect feature was widely popular. Yes, the network was never designed to handle data even though they did. You could get a blackberry smartphone on the IDEN system, I had one. They had a LOT of customers, exp in Metro area's. If you watched COPS during the mid to late 90's you'd usually see a Nextel handset at some point.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Nextel was the only nationwide all digital cellular network of the time. No 8 dollar roaming fees. Also the first to implement GPS in their handsets. The DirectConnect feature was widely popular. Yes, the network was never designed to handle data even though they did. You could get a blackberry smartphone on the IDEN system, I had one. They had a LOT of customers, exp in Metro area's. If you watched COPS during the mid to late 90's you'd usually see a Nextel handset at some point.
In the very early days, I did a survey of user satisfaction of the Southernlinc iDEN system where GSP was trying it instead of LMR. Where it worked, the users surveyed were pretty satisfied. However where it didn't have coverage, and where interoperability was needed, it fell very short. At the time there was no direct connect-talk feature, though I don't think that would have made much improvement.

MTS2000des Said:
"iDEN died because something 1000 times better replaced it: wait for it...smartphones driven by a superior 3G (UMTS) network. And here we are today."

iDen only died because Nextel was able to parlay their 800 MHz ESMR interference problem into contiguous 6 MHz spectrum blocks for themselves. Clever. I remember when I was at a Public Safety client's meeting with NEXTEL where we were negotiating a fix and NEXTEL presented the long term fix. It was obvious to me at the moment, why getting to a resolution was being dragged out.
 
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MTS2000des

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iDen only died because Nextel was able to parlay their 800 MHz ESMR interference problem into contiguous 6 MHz spectrum blocks for themselves. Clever. I remember when I was at a Public Safety client's meeting with NEXTEL where we were negotiating a fix and NEXTEL presented the long term fix. It was obvious to me at the moment, why getting to a resolution was being dragged out.
and why? because Sprint wanted to deploy (immediate) EVDO/1Xrtt for better building penetration on 800MHz ESMR, and now LTE.
No money in keeping a legacy, dated, and limited 1 function network alive. ESMR interference brought on by iDEN is a whole animal of itself, but like Nextel...it's now DONE.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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and why? because Sprint wanted to deploy (immediate) EVDO/1Xrtt for better building penetration on 800MHz ESMR, and now LTE.
No money in keeping a legacy, dated, and limited 1 function network alive. ESMR interference brought on by iDEN is a whole animal of itself, but like Nextel...it's now DONE.
I am confused.
Please explain, how does EVDO/1Xrtt improve building penetration?
 

MTS2000des

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I am confused.
Please explain, how does EVDO/1Xrtt improve building penetration?
Confused about what? Sprint's original pre-LTE network was 100 percent CDMA2000/EVDO rev 0 on PCS1900.
So...you get it now, 860MHz sure penetrates structures and requires fewer sites than PCS1900. Sprint's PCS network was known for poor in-building coverage for voice and their entire plan was to gut Nextel to get the contiguous blocks of 860MHz spectrum for future use (they first called this Sprint Network Vision). Today, this spectrum is now in full use for LTE.

Why do you think T-Mobile, AT&T and VZW covet their 700MHz (and in T-Mo's case, 600MHz "low band" spectrum) allocations?
T-Mo spent almost 8 BILLION dollars to win the 600MHz auction for a reason, better propagation and in-building penetration than AWS/PCS spectrum which is also very crowded.
 
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