Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! Unfortunately, I am back on my rant about the politics of Public Safety communications. Last week I talked about LA City pulling out of LA-RICS, this week, Urgent Communications reported that LA City requested that the UASI grant for the LA-RICS LMR P-25 network, awarded in 2011 and already allocated by LA-RICS, be rescinded! Who are the losers in all of these political games? The Public Safety community and the citizens of the country.
LA is not the only place politics has played a part in obstructing the deployment of needed Public Safety Land Mobile Radio and even Broadband networks. Consider the cancellation of the BTOP grants by NTIA once FirstNet was voted into existence. Most of the BTOP grants were to pay for pilot LTE Public Safety systems but were cancelled, the money was recalled, and the grants were never renewed. The Pilots cancelled included the City of Charlotte, which would have had Public Safety LTE up and running for the Democratic Convention in that city a few years ago. The State of Mississippi which had already purchased its equipment and not only was its grant recalled, it was told to dismantle the system it had started. And so it was for Bay RICS in Northern California and others. As a result, the Harris County, Texas system, which was not even part of the BTOP grants what is left of the LA-RICS system, the New Jersey deployable system, and the Colorado system, which is small but has been extended to cover some areas in New Mexico, are all that FirstNet has up and running to prove out the technology, applications, and devices.
We should have had entire states (Mississippi), major cities, LA-RICS and Bay RICS, medium-sized cities (Charlotte), and more up and operating by now. If all of these had been allowed to move forward instead of being shut down by the NTIA, we would have a much better feel for how much spectrum is needed by Public Safety, how much secondary spectrum might be available for use by a partner, and the types of devices and applications that are most important to first responders. The political side of Public Safety communications deployments, expansions, and maintaining existing budgets are growing increasingly heated. Many elected officials were falsely convinced that if they opted out of FirstNet they would receive a windfall of money from the secondary use of the FirstNet spectrum.
Other politicians have come to believe that the FirstNet network will negate the expense of their existing Public Safety LMR network as soon as next week, and others are simply more interested in appearing to be “smart” in public than they are in trying to understand the needs of the Public Safety community and the impact of their politically motivated decisions. The unfortunate truth is that as long as there are political animals trying to be re-elected and trying to prove how smart they are, Public Safety communications will continue to receive the short straw. We all thought that with FirstNet each city and county would be treated the same by the states, yet politics are lurking in many state capitals. Which counties voted for the “right party” and therefore deserve better coverage? I am hoping that this does not come to pass, but it is only logical to think about the issue in terms of the existing political landscape. There apparently is no solution to the problem, and of course Public Safety communications is not the only area to suffer from the political scene. Every week when I sort the stories to include in my summary, I avoid stories about Congress failing to pass the extension of the bill to assist the first responders injured in the 9/11 tragedy and many other Public Safety-related issues. I wish I had a solution, but I don’t. Andy
ITU Globally Harmonizes 700-MHz LTE Spectrum – Communications Today via Google Alerts Nov 25 23:30 The ITU this week globally harmonized the 700-MHz band by allocating it for LTE use in ITU Region 1, which covers Europe, Africa, the Middle East …
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on FirstNet’s Incumbent Relocation … – Federal Register via Google Alerts Nov 25 13:55 This document seeks comment on the ex parte proposal made by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to facilitate the relocation of … Continue reading