Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, June 7, 2018

Public Safety Advocate: PSCR, PSTA, and More

This year there was much discussion about Mission-Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPPT), direct-mode, and other types of mission-critical technologies. These sessions were well presented and many of the organizations being funding to work on MCPTT and direct-mode are universities that historically have been conducting great federal grant sponsored research on many different technologies. There were two things I wanted to hear about but did not hear: First, a realization that Mission-Critical PTT cannot qualify as mission-critical until it is running on a public safety-grade RF mission-critical network (which will take time for AT&T to complete). The second point is that none of the grants focus on using LMR for direct-mode instead of LTE.

The issue here is how you make direct-mode viable using LTE when the power level of the LTE devices is ¼ watt and the antennas (with few exceptions) are inside the case and sub-optimal. How can LTE devices be expected to provide the same level of direct PTT that is used daily by public safety with 5-watt LMR radios with external antennas? (While these antennas are external, most are still not equal to a unity gain antenna but they work well.) It bothers me that the PSCR and other entities are so focused on LTE being the be-all, end-all technology that they lose sight of the fact that public safety communications is about FirstNet AND LMR working together for many years to come.

I learned a long time ago to never say something could not be done, but I am a skeptic for sure when it comes to direct-mode over LTE. I would prefer to see more effort put into radios such as the Harris (not a client) XL series that includes LMR and FirstNet or Sonim’s (not a client) new expansion connector for use for LMR direct-mode. The technology is available and there are engineers who know how to make dual-mode radios. The issues are battery life, form factor, and functionality. The 4-band XL-200 from Harris I am carrying is really impressive and the user interface is the best I have seen on a portable product. Colors are used to be able to instantly see what talk group or band you are on, and the device is still only the size of a standard handheld. I am sure there will be more products such as these two coming to market and I have to wonder when the first LMR/LTE tablet for Incident Commanders will make its appearance in the marketplace.

I was pleased that PSCR is spending time on other important issues such as location services inside buildings, ways to map entire cities, and other technologies that will help both the public safety community in responding to incidents and the victims of the incidents. The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining a lot of attention as well. I had an opportunity to talk with a number of the smart engineers who work at PSCR and discovered that more and more, PSCR is involving the vendor community working on similar technology advances. PSCR can learn from the vendors and the vendors can learn from PSCR folks.

My last comment about PSCR is that I wish it would not be so bullish on the timeframe for Mission-Critical PTT. It is excited about what it is doing but every month I receive calls from public safety agencies (as do others involved with FirstNet) asking if I can help them re-convince the mayor, city council, or board of supervisors that LMR will not go away anytime soon. Elected officials pick up ideas that LTE will soon replace LMR and that makes the public safety community’s job of keeping funding in place for their LMR systems that much tougher.

There is one state that conducted an internal audit on the need for both LMR and LTE before they committed to FirstNet and while they were wrestling with the costs of both systems. This was an internal report with no vendor or other input. The results clearly show that both LMR and LTE will need to co-exist for many years to come. The entire report can be found here. The public safety community needs to be more proactive in producing and distributing materials aimed at non-public safety elected officials explaining the reasons LMR and LTE will co-exist for many years to come. Once they understand this, and if the marketing and research organizations will tone down their rhetoric on LTE as the be-all, end-all for public safety, we can get back to the job at hand:

  • See that FirstNet is fully deployed
  • Convince more public safety agencies to sign up
  • Work on providing connectivity between LMR systems and FirstNet
  • Take PTT over FirstNet to a point where the different flavors of PTT being deployed are all compatible with each other

PSTA

This is a segue way into an important announcement made during PSCR. TJ Kennedy and a host of others have been working for months on forming a new alliance that is now known as the Public Safety Technology Alliance (PSTA). TJ and a panel of some of the participants in this new organization explained that this non-profit organization was carefully put together with vendor and public safety participation and will be advocating for public safety identifying testing and adopting open-standards equipment and applications. FirstNet the Authority has always maintained the stance that only open standard products and services would be permitted on FirstNet (built by AT&T).

The PSTA will not be a standards body but it will work with the standards once they are completed or as they are being developed. The goal of the PSTA is to assist the public safety community with making sure the solutions provided that meet the standards are open-source, and that they are common so they do not introduce any operability issues into FirstNet (built by AT&T). FirstNet was designed from day one to be a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) where devices work regardless of where they are within or outside their own jurisdiction.

Some of the important issues already identified include:

  • Common mapping issues—It seems each dispatch system has a mapping system that is not compatible with others in the area or adjacent areas.
  • Mission-Critical PTT—Help ensure it becomes truly operable and does not create islands of PTT users who cannot communicate with other departments, thus negating the primary reason for FirstNet and return public safety to the era of incompatibility across departments.

TJ Kennedy, who came out of public safety and earned a reputation for being a true believer and friend of all of public safety as first the General Manager and later President of FirstNet, will be the CEO of this venture. One of his opening statements frames the goals of the organization: “Our goal is not to be a standards body, per se, but to help drive industry standards and compliance and to also ensure that public safety chooses standards, so that everyone—both in industry and public safety—knows what the standards are that are going to be followed.”

I believe this organization is important to the public safety community. FirstNet is the standard broadband pipe AT&T is building for public safety, but what runs on that pipe needs to be the same or at least operable between agencies. It won’t do any good if every agency is still using a different map format or different applications that are not compatible with each other. I see the PSTA acting as the go-between for approved standards, the development community, and the public safety community to ensure that not only is the FirstNet network nationwide and fully interoperable, but what runs over it is, too!

Winding Down

I enjoyed my few days at PSCR. On the whole, it is a needed entity and is doing a lot of great work. However, I think sometimes its members’ exuberance gets the best of them and ends up causing problems for public safety. PSCR is well funded, it is working with many smart companies and educational institutions, and it is doing important work. I am looking forward to next year’s event to see how far it and its partners have come in a year.

I met up with a lot of people I have known for the many years we have all been at this, and I met some new people who are there to carry on going forward. It is amazing how much has been done and listening to the FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson recap all the accomplishments made in a little more than a year between FirstNet the Authority and FirstNet (built by AT&T) was a great reminder of how quickly the dream from almost twenty years ago is coming together now that there is an organization and a network provider. Sue has done a great job over the years. I have had the pleasure of being a consultant to her during her various and challenging jobs over the years and have always respected her and her understanding of how to get things done and get them done correctly the first time. She will be missed but as she said, we are entering Chapter 2 of FirstNet and she will stay involved in public safety now that it is in her blood. I hope to work with her again wherever she ends up.

I also had an opportunity to meet with some startups I have been following for a number of years. One of these is Assured Wireless (not a client). It has a product that is very well designed and provides lots of functionality including Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Mesh, and Bluetooth, and is also a computing platform so it will run applications. It has been designed primarily to be mounted in public safety vehicles but in today’s world that also includes drones. The main reason I follow Assured Wireless is that its FirstNet radio is capable of operating in the high-power mode authorized by the FCC for band 14 which, instead of ¼ watt can go up to 1.25 watts adding more range and better data speeds, particularly in rural areas where there may be coverage issues using standard ¼-watt devices. The company has come a long way, the product is about to be launched, and it should become a popular addition to FirstNet (built by AT&T), especially in rural areas.

The Public Safety Advocate will be back on its regular weekly schedule starting next week—there are a lot of exciting things happening. As the network gains more users and as those who have been using different broadband networks realize the future for public safety broadband is FirstNet, I believe more and more agencies will sign up. FirstNet coverage is a priority for AT&T and it is putting significant resources into expanding coverage. Those who have not experienced FirstNet coverage because they are using some other network should at least give it a try and see how well it will serve their community.

Andrew M. Seybold
©2018 Andrew Seybold, Inc.

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 24, 2018

FirstNet Everywhere, Partnerships (Again)

I just returned from the largest amateur (ham) radio convention in the United States, held each year near Dayton, Ohio or, to be precise, at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio. I mention this event for a number of reasons, the first of which is that many of those attending have day jobs working for public safety as sworn personnel or in the IT or communications departments. Many who designed and built the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems used by public safety today were hams who first experienced communications as a new ham radio operator.

A number of federal government employees and contractors also attend. I was amused that AT&T had a booth in one the buildings and I went to visit it only to find this was the DirectTV group and not the wireless group. The interest in FirstNet was high this year and I had many discussions with those I met about the progress FirstNet and AT&T are making. I especially enjoyed talking with a group of fire and other public safety personnel in a flea market booth. They read my articles and were very interested in my perspective on FirstNet. I also enjoyed talking about the Harris XL-200 4-band handheld I was carrying and my Sonim XP8 phone.

I was happy to see so many pubic safety people there who knew about FirstNet. In previous years they would look confused until FirstNet was explained to them but this year I did not have to do much explaining. When talking with some federal employees and contractors, I learned one of the contractors retired from his federal job and is now a consultant to the same agency. Our discussion was disturbing to say the least. It turns out that the federal government wants to redo its communications contracts and stop using wired connections. This may be the wave of the future, but it appears as though none of those suggesting the changes to the contracts or changes in vendors truly understand that eliminating the need for copper wires is not simply about replacing them with fiber and Voice over IP (VoIP).

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Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence:

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Official: Some Agencies in North Carolina ‘Scared’ of FirstNet

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -— Some public safety agencies in North Carolina, particularly small agencies in rural areas, are “scared”  of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and are unlikely to subscribe anytime soon to the service that AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, is offering, a state official said here today.

The comments came at the North Carolina Public Safety Broadband Summit, which was held in conjunction with the 2018 Connectivity Expo, which was organized by the Wireless Infrastructure Association. “In certain parts of North Carolina, I don’t think they’re ready, so they’re scared,” Gregory Hauser, North Carolina’s statewide interoperability coordinator, said during a session this afternoon. He said that feeling is particularly prevalent in rural areas.

“For now in North Carolina … this is going to be a metro advancement,” Mr. Hauser said of FirstNet subscribership, citing major cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro.

Asked what the concerns were for public safety agencies in rural areas, he said “coverage” and cost were the two largest. “We’re going to need some help,” Mr. Hauser said of the cost issue, adding that grant or other funding would be necessary for some agencies.

“We’re going to get there. I think we all realize that,” he added. “How we get there is going to be pretty painful.” Continue reading

AT&T Reps Highlight Benefits of FirstNet Offering

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –— AT&T, Inc., representatives, including former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis, argued today that AT&T’s public safety broadband offering for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is far superior than any other option available to public safety agencies, and Mr. Davis suggested that police agencies will choose FirstNet because they “follow the law.”

Mr. Davis, an AT&T consultant, and Chad Tucker, a FirstNet consultant manager for AT&T, discussed AT&T’s offering during a keynote session this morning at the 2018 Connectivity Expo, which was organized by the Wireless Infrastructure Association. AT&T’s FirstNet brand is featured prominently at the show here this week. It is a sponsor of the overall show, and the collocated North Carolina Public Safety Broadband Summit.

Mr. Davis stressed the benefits that the FirstNet system would have provided it if had been available after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, including offering priority and preemption for first responders when cellular networks were overloaded as well as broadband access and interoperability. He also said that the network will allow public safety agencies to take advantage of the innovation of a Fortune 500 company.  “There has never been a research and development arm of policing in the United States,” he added.

Mr. Tucker suggested that AT&T’s preemption is being done in a way that no one else is doing, even though Verizon Communications, Inc., also offers priority service and preemption for its public safety broadband offering that is competing with that of AT&T’s for FirstNet. Mr. Tucker also stressed that AT&T has a “dedicated core,” for public safety, “not a virtual core,” and “end-to-end encryption.” Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, May 3, 2018

Is LMR Old and Out of Date? LTE the Future? For the past few weeks I have been talking with folks in D.C., states, and locally about FirstNet and if and when it will replace Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems. I have found that among those not directly involved with public safety and do not have much, if any, technical background, there is a great deal of confusion surrounding LMR, FirstNet, and the limited amount of spectrum available to us.

These issues include but are not limited to the perception that LTE and 5G represents the only wireless future and land mobile radio is an antiquated technology that is no longer needed. Further, they believe all spectrum regardless of where it is located in the radio spectrum continuum is worth a fortune and therefore should be converted to broadband spectrum as soon as possible so it can be auctioned. It is interesting that these are the same issues the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) and Public Safety Alliance (PSA) faced when they were first engaging with those in the federal government to convince elected officials that public safety needed more broadband spectrum but needed to keep its LMR spectrum as well.

It took a while but public safety gained the support of the governors’ and mayors’ associations. However, when FirstNet was passed, Congress required a give-back of the T-Band spectrum. Part of the reason for this was the belief that the spectrum in these eleven major markets, once vacated by public safety (Congress forgot about business users also authorized in the T-Band), would be worth $billions of dollars and that funding could be used to relocate the T-Band public safety users and pay off a portion of the U.S. debt. However, it has not turned out that way. Now there is a bill in Congress to forgive the T-Band give-back but so far it has not progressed as quickly as we would have liked.

All of the above has convinced me that many of the staffers and those who served in Congress during the years preceding the law that created FirstNet in 2012 have left Congress or are not in the same committees they were. The new guard, as it were, grew up with cell phones. That is all they know, I don’t think any of them have been exposed to handheld radios with push-to-talk-only capabilities, even Family Service Radios (FSRs) that can be purchased for less than $20 in most stores. Nor do I think many, if any, have asked for a ride-along with police or sheriff personnel. Instead, they believe their smartphone can do anything and everything needed by public safety. And when they have a dropped call or cannot access the network it is an inconvenience and they complain, but they don’t seem to realize that it is not the same as a police officer being shot at and needing back-up. In that case, not being able to access the network or not being able to communicate with others can become a whole lot more than an inconvenience.

Even those in charge at FirstNet will tell you that both FirstNet and LMR networks are vital tools for public safety. Most recently, the head of AT&T’s FirstNet efforts was featured and quoted in an article in Urgent Communications and reposted on allthingsfirstnet.com saying the following:

“Push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) already is being used to replace LMR in non-mission-critical scenarios, but learning from those experiences eventually will impact acceptance of MCPTT-standard offerings, according to Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president for FirstNet.

It will start with extended primary [users] in public safety, and it will move to first responders, in time,” Sambar said last month during an event sponsored by Sonim Technologies. “I don’t know how long that will take. I think there will always be a place for LMR, because it’s a great tool. I think [LMR] will start slowly moving to a backup technology, though. But it will take time.””

Even AT&T understands that both FirstNet and LMR are needed today and into the future to ensure the safety of our first responders. As Mr. Sambar stated, it is possible today to move some administrative and other non-front-line public safety personnel off their LMR systems onto push-to-talk over FirstNet but it will take some time, if ever, for FirstNet to become the only communications platform for public safety.

Looking at the Other Concerns

Is LMR an antiquated technology or a proven technology? LMR was developed and deployed starting in the 1930s and push-to-talk communications were used by the military during World War II and in every conflict since. Some of today’s systems are based on digital technology (P-25) but there are still analog FM LMR systems in use, particularly in smaller agencies. LMR has evolved and now P25 PTT includes group PTT, one-to-one PTT, and the ability to be cross-connected with PTT on FirstNet.

One of the most significant advantages of LMR today is that many LMR systems are much closer to meeting the public safety-grade criteria than FirstNet. However, it is FirstNet’s (AT&T’s) goal to move FirstNet, over time, as close to a public safety-grade network as possible. While some new standards have been developed or are being developed to add even more redundancy to FirstNet, the results of these new standards remain untested.

LMR, on the other hand, has the real advantage of multiple modes of operation. If an LMR system is up and running using multiple sites in one of several modes that make that possible, and one or more sites fail, these sites, if still operational locally, switch to local access. If the site fails completely, units in the area can still communicate with each other using direct mode or off-network communications. This type of fallback is vital to the robustness of LMR. Further, if a site is in standalone operations mode, any unit in range will be able to communicate through the site. In the cellular world today, even if a site remains up but disconnected from the rest of the network, it is not clear whether devices will still be able to use the site because the device IDs and access rights are normally validated in the network core.

The most significant disadvantage FirstNet and all LTE networks have today when it comes to push-to-talk are that off-network PTT is not possible today with LTE. If two units or a group of units want to have a PTT conversation they must be in range of the network and the network must be operational. With LMR, neither of these is required. Off-network PTT can occur within the coverage of a network when one device is in network coverage and one is out of coverage, and if all units are out of coverage. This is a vital function of LMR that must be provided for FirstNet devices if FirstNet is ever to replace LMR PTT functions as well as network-related functions.

What Is Spectrum Worth?

This is an issue for which there are many answers. My answers are based on the following criteria:

  • In what portion of the RF spectrum is the subject spectrum?
  • How much of it is available?
  • What other services will need to be relocated out of this spectrum?
    1. To where will they move?
    2. Who will pay for the relocation?
  • Is the spectrum in a portion designed to cover LTE or 5G?
  • Is it possible to make this spectrum available nationwide?
  • Is the spectrum usable in mobile devices? (antenna size, battery life, device size)
  • Who are potential customers and is there more than one type of customer that might be interested enough in the spectrum to make it more valuable at auction?
  • What other factors might impact the cost of the spectrum?

Let’s start with LTE frequency allocations. According to Radio-Electronics.com, the issue with spectrum allocations for LTE using Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) where the cell site transmits on one part of the spectrum and the device transmits on another (what we are accustomed to), is that there must be sufficient separation between the two portions of spectrum to prevent the receiver from being blocked by the proximity of the transmitter. The FDD chart includes band 31 sets of spectrum at 452.5–457.5-MHz and 462.5–467.5-MHz, both of which are located in highly congested LTE public safety, business, paging, and other LMR systems in the United States. But this band is limited to 5 MHz of bandwidth, which means the value of this spectrum for broadband is very much diminished.

There are also LTE spectrum allocations for Time Division Duplex (TDD) (see some of Sprint’s 2-GHz spectrum holdings). In this case, the cell site and the device transmit on the same radio channel but in time slices so as not to interfere with each other. In TDD, the lowest spectrum supported is band 44, which is 100 MHz of spectrum in the 703–803-MHz range. Since Verizon and FirstNet broadband and LMR 700 are already in this spectrum in the United States, it is not practical to try to make use of it.

The T-Band 470–512-MHz is not included in any of the FDD or TDD LTE spectrum allocations. It does not offer enough spectrum in any given city (12 MHz total) for a reasonable FDD LTE transmit and receive split and the chances of it being used for TDD LTE in my estimation are slim to none. Add to this that this spectrum is only available in eleven major markets and the rest of the country is using this spectrum for its original purpose, which was to provide channels for TV stations, and there is yet another reason to limit the value of the T-Band spectrum.

The questions then boil down to who would want spectrum only in eleven major metro areas, who would then pay the estimated $billions in relocation fees for public safety (not including business users), and to where would these public safety systems be relocated? At one point the FCC was talking about using the T-Band for low-powered TV stations and translators but companies that do that are not inclined to pay much for spectrum. If the FCC were to offer the spectrum to them for nothing we would have more of a problem because there would be nowhere to move T-Band users to and no money with which to move them.

The value of spectrum varies widely based on the answers to my above questions. If you remember back to the AWS-3 auction (which funded the $7billion starter fund for FirstNet with the bulk of the $Billions coming from AT&T), it generated $44 billion in auction revenue. The price paid for this spectrum was more than had ever been paid for spectrum per-MHz in the United States. If you fast forward to the 600-MHz auction it was not nearly as successful for several reasons. First, carriers had all decided that 5G small cells were the be-all, end-all for capacity and speed increases in metro markets. The 600-MHz spectrum is great for more of the same LTE systems already on 700-MHz and other portions of the spectrum, but only spectrum above 2.5-GHz is really suitable for small cell. Many TV channels went unsold, and the price paid for the spectrum that was auctioned was much lower than expected. Verzion did not win a single piece of the spectrum even though it was registered to bid, and it stated beforehand that it really wanted 5G spectrum, not 600-MHz spectrum. As it turned out, Verizon did not bid on FirstNet either saying it simply did not need the spectrum. Not all of the spectrum was bid on and won and the bidding totaled $19.8billion, well below AWS-3 receipts.

Those who believe spectrum, regardless of where it is located in the RF spectrum, is worth a lot of money do not understand the issues. To raise money at an auction it needs to have nationwide availability and be in part of the spectrum where LTE or 5G spectrum is in demand. To try to convert 150–170-MHz from Land Mobile Radio to broadband mobile would end up with no one at the bidders’ table. Perhaps there are better future uses for this spectrum but not today and not with it encumbered with many different classes of license holders. The same goes for the 450–470-MHz and 800-MHz public safety bands.

The law that created FirstNet included a provision that the 12 MHz of 700-MHz spectrum used for LMR public safety communications could, at some future time, be converted to more broadband spectrum but only for public safety. That would not generate any revenue and would cause even more problems with LMR systems in the 700-MHz band that are deployed coast to coast including entire states such as Michigan. It appears as though those who are elected and can change the wireless landscape with their votes lose interest in converting a lot of spectrum to broadband when they come to understand that the highest and best use for spectrum in some portions of the RF spectrum is not for mobile broadband.

The AM broadcast band (525 KHz to 1705 KHz) is good for AM radio but at night local stations sometimes have to compete with interference from stations in other cities. As we move up the band into the MHz-region, we find long-distance ship-to-shore, country-to-country, amateur radio, and other forms of communications in spectrum that is not at all suited for broadband services. Then we reach VHF, UHF, and higher and some of this spectrum is great for broadband but some, such as 600-MHz and 700-MHz spectrum is better for larger cells with more coverage—the higher the spectrum the less range. 5G is based on the premise that there will be many small cells that are part of the network and users will move from one to another seamlessly as with cellular. However, since they are small cells with a lot of bandwidth, they will be able to deliver more capacity and data speeds.

Some people could have become very rich if they had realized four or five years ago that the real value for spectrum would shift to 2 GHz and above. However, until only a few years ago, the concept of cellular was the same: more towers closer together, and over time adding microcells. While 5G is a logical move forward, it was not widely considered viable until recently and now every carrier, cable tv company, and others want to play in this space.

The value of spectrum to the federal government depends on how many companies want access to the spectrum and for what purpose. 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) seem to be the big drivers today, which leaves spectrum such as the T-Band and, thankfully, the rest of the public safety spectrum as spectrum having value to be sure, but not enough for elected officials to see visions of national debt dollars floating before their eyes.

The Last Word

The UK has come to understand that in order to move its public safety community over to LTE in the next two years or so it will have to use Tetra for off-network PTT since LTE won’t be anywhere close to providing this capability.

Sonim has announced it will be providing off-network PTT using licensed P-25 channels and Harris’s XP-200p has four bands of LMR and FirstNet, too (once approved by AT&T). There will be more products coming, and a larger variety of options. At some point, the technology will enable a single device with lots of LMR capability and FirstNet with long battery life. Until then, public safety needs to be able to use LMR and FirstNet through different devices: FirstNet for information, visual prompts, video of the scene, and more; LMR for normal day-to-day voice communications that have for years worked and saved lives.

When we were all working with Congress and I was presenting at APCO broadband summits, I had a set of PowerPoints that compared and contrasted LMR and LTE. Perhaps it is time to dust them off, update them, and hold a few Wireless Universities again!

Andrew M. Seybold
©2018 Andrew Seybold, Inc.

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, April 19, 2018

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Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, April 12, 2018

Batteries in the Field:  When we add smartphones and tablets to the mix of public safety communications devices we are adding yet another set of devices that run on batteries that need to be recharged. While there are a number of companies working on charging these devices from the radio energy that is transmitted from a cell site, which could make recharging a non-issue, that appears, once again, to be well into the future. In the meantime, how are these devices to be charged along with the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) handheld radios?

Comparing LMR to LTE Devices:  LMR devices are generally designed for battery life of over a shift, which is ten hours or so. But this is with a duty cycle that is generally light. The norm is 80-percent standby (lowest power requirement) to 10-percent receive (mid-power requirement) and 10-percent transmit (highest power usage). The batteries for LMR radios are removable and replaceable and can be run through a “fast charge” system to replenish them in short order. There are also what are known as “clam-shell” battery cases that are designed to be used with disposable batteries, usually a number of AA cells. During major wildland fires when the forest services issue their cache of radios, they are mostly powered by throw-away cells. The batteries used in LMR radios are usually on the bottom of the radio, are easy to take off, and have a lot more battery capacity than batteries that are not removable.

There are a number of different scenarios for LMR radio distribution. In police departments, most LMR handhelds are staged in gang chargers and as patrol officers exit the station for a shift they will grab a radio and sometimes a spare battery for use on their shift and then replace the units in the charger at the end of their shift. In the fire service, since there are normally four assigned to an engine, radios are sometimes in chargers near one of the engine’s rear doors and are picked up as needed when arriving on a scene. Most EMS personnel have radios issued to them at the start of each shift. Of course, there are many variations of this including some departments where the LMR handheld is the only radio each person carries. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading