Public Safety Networks LMR and FirstNet Working Together
There is still a lot of confusion out in Public Safety and elected official land about the future of Land Mobile Radio (LMR) as FirstNet is deployed, and there is still the issue of the eleven major metro areas slated to lose the T-Band and their LMR systems if we cannot convince Congress to make some changes to the law. I was happy to see that during the recent webinar held by Mission Critical Magazine, Chester County, PA speakers were questioned as to whether LMR will be replaced by FirstNet, they responded with a resounding NO! (Chester County was the first countywide fire dispatch system I designed and installed in the early 1970s.) However, it seems there is still an issue of spreading the word, not so much to the public safety community but to IT departments and elected and appointed officials responsible for the budgets, both capex and opex, that fund LMR systems.
It is no wonder some people are confused since we keep seeing comments, press releases, and experts talking about how soon Mission Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT) is coming to FirstNet, and how some still believe the off-network 3GPP standard known as ProSe will be a factor. However, even the developers of the public safety system in the United Kingdom have realized they won’t be able to provide reliable off-network PTT over LTE. For that reason, they are planning to use Tetra radios with simplex or talk-around. The more the experts talk about the technology issues with Mission Critical PTT, the more they seem to be losing sight of the fact that the technology over the network is only part of the issue. If the network itself is not mission-critical, PTT over the network cannot be mission-critical, even if it is called “Mission Critical PTT” (MCPPT).
It is, I believe, vitally important that those in government who make decisions about funding LMR radio systems, upgrading them, keeping them running and operational understand the dilemma the standards body, labs, and pro-MCPTT folks have created for the public safety community. There have been instances where public safety officials are presenting their next year’s budget and they are questioned by the budget committee about why public safety still needs to invest in LMR technology. The public safety officials usually make a good case for why, but one or more of the budget committee members have heard from technology experts that MCPTT will be real and will be rolled out in 2018. They simply do not understand that every day public safety bets their lives on their communications systems. Read the Entire Blog Here Continue reading