The Federal Communications Commission announced that the nation’s wireless public safety network will rely on LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology to provide interoperable communication for first responders.
The announcement was cautiously applauded by law enforcement supporters of a national broadband network that would replace the web of disparate radio frequencies that often thwart communication between police, fire and EMS during incident response.
In a statement, the Association for Public Safety-Radio Operators (APCO) praised the adoption of LTE.
“APCO International applauds the FCC for its formal adoption today of LTE as the technology standard for public safety broadband communications, which is consistent with APCO’s early recommendation in support of LTE,” according to Bill Carrow, APCO’s president. “We also look forward to addressing the important interoperability issues in the NPRM portion of today’s action.”
With NPRM, Carrow referenced the fourth Notice of Public Rulemaking, an FCC document recommending LTE. While the technology standard has been approved, the spectrum required to support it has yet to be solidified.
Segments of the 700 MHz D-Block spectrum set aside for such a network were auctioned to Verizon Wireless and AT&T in 2008. Since that auction, law enforcement and other responders have been lobbying the FCC for other 700 MHz segments.
Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), tells SSI he’s hopeful that once the D-Block allocation is made and and funded, the electronic security industry will have access to a slice of the spectrum for alarm communications.
“With Public Safety achieving its desired broadband capability, alarm data — such as video, floor plans, etc. — will be able to be transmitted from a central station through the PSAP down to a responding vehicle, enhancing response to an incident.”
The New York Police Department has formally objected to the FCC’s current plan, filing a white paper in March stating its case. When he spoke to SSI’s sister publication POLICE Magazine in February, NYPD Deputy Chief Charles Dowd called the FCC’s plan “a red herring.”
Under the current plan, law enforcement agencies would compete with the public on wireless networks during a crisis, when data and voice networks are clogged.
“They’re not giving us the kind of access we need,” Dowd said at the time. “The notion is that the extra spectrum is going to be available to us is not accurate. It’s going to be available to everyone.”