Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, August 23, 2018

Radio Interference in the Public Safety World.  There are many different types of interference that may have an impact on existing radio communications systems whether they are Land Mobile Radio (LMR), broadband, marine band, aviation and satellite or, of course, Wi-Fi systems. Deliberately causing interference might be considered as “hacking” wireless systems. Then there is the issue of the noise floor and its level being higher than it has ever been, which can also have a negative impact on all types of wireless communications. Radio transmitters either by themselves or in conjunction with other transmitters can cause major interference issues as well. While there are other types of interference, I will limit the discussion for this week’s Public Safety Advocate (PSA) to those mentioned above.

Malicious Interference. Malicious interference is often attributable to how easy it is to purchase cheap handheld radios on the land mobile radio channels and then program them to work on almost any radio channel in use. Most of these radios are made in China. Although these units have been causing interference for many years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only recently began to crack down on their use. Once a device is programmed to, for example, a fire radio channel, the “radio hacker” can make calls, disrupt incidents, and otherwise cripple communications. In one series of events a teenager with a radio tuned to a fire dispatch channel in California caused mass confusion by re-routing engines to different locations as they were being dispatched.

Public safety radios are sometimes taken out of service and sold or given to others, but most departments wipe them clean of their programming information before handing them over, or the radios are simply destroyed. A stolen or lost radio can normally be silenced and taken off the network much like your cell phone if it is lost or stolen. With mobile units, when the microphone button is pushed it sometimes inadvertently sticks and stays on the air. Many departments require all these radios to have time-out-timers in them to limit the time of the transmission and release the channel. It is difficult to identify open transmissions or catch radio hackers since they only transmit for a few minutes at a time and may move around. Some departments have enlisted the assistance of the local ham radio community as many hams practice “transmitter hunts” and have become very good at tracking down radios that should not be on the air.
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Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence/

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FCC supports rural broadband deployments to enable telehealth

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The US May Yet Catch Its Global Peers in 4G Speeds

Light Reading Aug 17 16:10

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Verizon calls for greater interoperability with FirstNet, says public-sector business still growing

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FCC Faces Senate Commerce Committee Panel In Oversight Hearing

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