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NPSTC Home NPSTC Newsletter Volume 11 Issue 1, Spring 2011

From the Chair
by Ralph Haller
For almost 14 years, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) has identified important technical and policy issues critical to state and local public safety telecommunications communities and has provided a forum for the leaders of key public safety organizations…
Canada-United States Border Radio Coverage
by Richard Cayouette, Martello Defence Security Consultants Inc. and Jack Pagotto, DRDC Centre for Security Science
From day-to-day incidents to large-scale emergencies, emergency responders are often disadvantaged by the inability to communicate or share critical voice and data information with other jurisdictions or disciplines…

Intrinsically Safe Discussions Continue
Intrinsically Safe StandardIn September 2010, NPSTC learned a new version of the intrinsically safe standard affecting Land Mobile Radio (LMR) would be effective January 1, 2012, and that it may have a serious negative technical and financial impact on public safety users…

Regulatory Update
by Bette Rinehart, Chair, Editorial Review Working Group
Regulatory Update In 700 MHz News – Comment Dates Established for Proposals Outlined in Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in Docket 06-229 National Public Safety Broadband Network… 800 MHz News… and more…

NPSTC Engages to Assess Potential GPS Interference
by Stu Overby, Vice Chair, Spectrum Management Committee
Potential GPS Interference LightSquared (previously SkyTerra) is a company that has spectrum in the 1.5 GHz band adjacent to the spectrum used by all GPS receivers.  Operations could potentially interfere with currently deployed GPS…

NPSTC Welcomes New Associate Member, the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC)
New Associate Member NCSWICAt the February meeting in San Antonio, Texas, NPSTC's Governing Board welcomed a new associate member, the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC)…

Narrowband Interoperability: It's More than Just the Project 25 Standard
by Larry Nyberg, Telecommunications Industry Association
Narrowband InteroperabilityEnsuring narrowband interoperability is not simply a matter of implementing P25 standard technologies.  Interoperability requires advancement in three equally vital areas of public safety communications that must all be present…

NPSTC Panel at IWCE, BYOC [Bring Your Own Chair]
NPSTC Panel at IWCE NPSTC's Executive Director Marilyn Ward said NPSTC's panel was standing room only.  Interested attendees robbed adjoining rooms of chairs so they could hear the latest news from NPSTC's panel…

Narrowbanding 101
by Robert Symons, Wyoming Statewide Interoperability Coordinator Alan Komenski, Washington Statewide Interoperability Coordinator
Narrowbanding 101 The purpose of this article is to spread awareness of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate regarding radio communication system narrowband compliance, and to provide an overview of the mandate and its impact on public safety agencies.…

Risk 700 MHz Frequencies Will Revert to FCC if 700 MHz State Licensees Miss April 2012 Deadline for Progress Report
submitted by David Warner, Spectrum Management Public Safety Communications, Radio Engineering Division Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)
April 2012 Deadline for 700 MHz Progress ReportIn April 2012, all 700 MHz state license authorizations must meet an FCC benchmark.  The FCC requires that all 700 MHz, 'State Licensees,' indicate how much progress they have made towards the advancement of their respective 700 MHz system(s)…

NPSTC Working Group News
Narrowbanding QuestionnaireAre You Going To Be Ready?  Narrowbanding Questionnaire Finds 75% Will Have to Coordinate with Other Jurisdictions, says David Warner, Chair, Narrowbanding Below 512 MHz Working Group, which assists agencies in meeting the 2013 narrowbanding deadline…

FCC Reconstitutes CSRIC and Seeks Nominations for Committee
submitted by Bill Brownlow, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
ANSI Channel Names UpdatedRecently the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) completed and released 10 reports and recommendations following 2 years of work…

Narrowbanding Pointers from the FCC
Narrowbanding PointersOn January 26, the FCC held a workshop on VHF/UHF narrowbanding to assist licensees in completing the transition to narrowband radio communications by January 1, 2013…

Since We Last Met
Since We Last Met NPSTC and LMCC Submitted Comments on Promoting More Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Dynamic Spectrum Use Technologies… NPSTC Submitted Comments in Response to FCC's Rapidly Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture Public Notice…

NPSTC Working Group News
by Andy Thiessen, Chair Broadband Working Group
Broadband Working GroupExciting New Projects for the Broadband Working Group

Last September 2010, the Broadband Working Group (BBWG) began meeting by phone and in person to develop a functional definition of mission-critical voice requirements for broadband…

From the Chair
by Ralph Haller

From the Chair

For almost 14 years, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) has identified important technical and policy issues critical to state and local public safety telecommunications communities and has provided a forum for the leaders of key public safety organizations to discuss and research emerging issues and to initiate critical actions in response, if needed.

The issues in public safety telecommunications seem to multiply exponentially at times.  NPSTC is working on many fronts in its role as a resource and advocate for public safety organizations in the United States on matters relating to public safety telecommunications.

Nationwide Broadband Network for Public Safety
On March 1, 2011, NPSTC's member organizations unanimously voted to support the concept of a nationwide broadband network for public safety instead of the network of networks approach.  At an ex parte discussion held by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for invited representatives of public safety, NPSTC made the strong case for a flexible, reliable, and vibrant nationwide broadband network, presenting high-level conceptual drawings to help illustrate the difference between the network of networks approach and the financial, technical, and practical advantages of a nationwide network using one nationwide PLMN ID.  This concept does not prohibit local control, but takes advantage of roaming on one public safety network which alleviates millions of dollars of expenditures on taxpayer-funded systems.  On March 10, NPSTC issued a position paper on the Need for a Nationwide Broadband Architecture for Public Safety.
Intrinsically Safe Discussions Continue
Recent discussions indicate progress on several fronts in resolving the problems caused by changes to the intrinsically safe standard for LMR.  Last November, NPSTC hosted a meeting to discuss how to respond to proposed revisions to the intrinsically safe standard for electrical equipment, which includes Land Mobile Radio (LMR).  This revision to the standard would have a serious financial impact on the public safety community.
We have several articles to help you understand what you need to do to prepare for narrowbanding:  Narrowbanding 101 by Robert Symons, Wyoming Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, and Alan Komenski, Washington Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, describes what you need to know about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate regarding radio communication system narrowband compliance.  Are You Going to be Ready? Narrowbanding Questionnaire Finds 75 Percent Will Have to Coordinate with Other Jurisdictions, by David Warner, Chair, Narrowbanding Below 512 MHz Working Group, and Narrowbanding Pointers from the FCC, from a presentation by Roberto Mussenden, FCC Policy Division, provide further illumination on the issue.
NCSWICs:  NPSTC's Newest Associate Member
At the February meeting in San Antonio, Texas, NPSTC's Governing Board welcomed a new associate member, the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), a council of the Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) from the 56 States and territories, supported by the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC).

Superintendent Bill Moore

Welcome to Superintendent Bill Moore, Halifax Regional Police, serving as an alternate to Governing Board Associate Member, the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG), and many thanks for the hard work are gratefully extended to former alternate Rick Finn, Superintendent, York Regional Police.

NPSTC's Committee Meetings in May 2011 will be hosted by the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.

Canada-United States Border Radio Coverage
by Richard Cayouette, Martello Defence Security Consultants Inc. and Jack Pagotto, DRDC Centre for Security Science

"Copyright © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada as Represented by the Minister of National Defence (2011).  This copyrighted work has been created for Defence Research and Development Canada, an agency within the Canadian Department of National Defence."

"Exercise.  Exercise.  Exercise"

Situation:  Public Safety officials advised that a satellite is falling out of orbit.  Toxic materials on board.  Expected footprint of debris 50 km wide x 150 km long centered on East Mary Island, Thousand Islands area, N.Y. 22:54 local, Rock Port Ontario.  Multiple reports of falling star sightings reported at 911 call center.

Mission:  Locate and isolate debris.  Determine risk to population.

Command and Control:  Who can cover that area?  Large body of water in the footprint requires multi-agency action from both sides of the border including Coast Guard.

One of the most important issues facing civil and military emergency responders is communications interoperability, commonly defined as the ability of emergency responders – police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services – to communicate to whom they need to, when they need to, as required and authorized.  From day-to-day incidents to large-scale emergencies, emergency responders are often disadvantaged by the inability to communicate or share critical voice and data information with other jurisdictions or disciplines.  This inability to communicate threatens the safety and security of both responders and the population.

Apart from the importance of interoperable communications, there is a need to have the infrastructure coverage in place so that radio communications can support public safety and security requirements.  While for most populated regions this may not be a problem, there may be regions where the existing radio tower infrastructure is inadequate to provide complete coverage.

A study has been conducted and identified radio coverage gap areas exist along the Canada-United States (U.S.) border.  To mitigate the operational impact of the gaps, current and emerging technology options were proposed as a means for supporting interoperability of communications that would be required to respond to multi-agency (national or cross-border) emergency management in these border regions.

The study has been performed by Martello Defence Security Consultants Inc. in partnership with Industry Canada's Communication Research Center (CRC).  The funding and support for the study was provided by the Emergency Public Security Technical Program, under the Defence Research and Development Canada – Center for Security Science.

As a first step, first responder fixed voice radio stations along the Canada and United States border, including (Alaska-Yukon) were identified and the combined radio coverage was plotted to identify potential gaps in the area of interest which was a 30km wide band each side of the border (yellow-cyan on Figure 1).  The data mining task was a significant level of effort through the selection and filtering of over 140,000 radio license records from the U.S. FCC's Universal Licensing System and Spectrum Direct from Canada.

A robust radio propagation software, which is free to use, "Radio Mobile for Windows," was modified as a batch program to run on a 1000+ CPU core supercomputer which allowed a continent-wide radio coverage plot at 100m/pixel resolution.

The radio propagation model results were validated through field testing and high fidelity fine-tuning measures were identified.  The main deliverables were high-resolution coverage plots and associated tools and training for first responders that wish to maintain and update their "radio situation awareness."

The technology roadmap produced will help first responder and public safety agencies to plan and optimize their new system procurement with a common national approach.  New technology solution options were briefly reviewed by communication technology experts at CRC and presented as a technology roadmap including Technology Readiness Level (TRL) ratings for each.

Impact/Benefits of the Study
Should a significant incident occur in the border region, the radio coverage plots can be used as a repository to identify "who can talk to who" at the scene.  This is a key enabler for interoperability of multi-agency on-scene response.  Coverage statistics were computed yielding an average geographic coverage for the border region while assuming all the radio systems were interoperable (for example: police can directly talk to fire, fire can talk directly to Coast Guard, and all combinations thereof, including EMS and other units).

As a final note, the following insights, based on best practices gleaned from this study, are offered to agencies relying on radio coverage for their mission-critical operations:

  1. You need to take responsibility for knowing and managing your own radio coverage.
  2. Your staff should be intimately aware of their radio coverage and its limitations.
  3. Test your coverage limits regularly by dispatching your staff for remote radio checks during quiet times.  Do it from the car and from the handset, both have very different ranges.
  4. Investigate "dead zones" and get your local radio supplier and installer to implement fixes (we were amazed how many service improvements our study survey prompted at no charge to the operators).
  5. Ensure your radio license reflects exactly what is deployed at your transmitter sites (we found instances where operators were surprised which towers they were actually transmitting on!).
  6. Do not rely on your cell phones; the lines will be busy if a significant event occurs.
  7. Ensure you have a mobile repeater with a quick erecting tower that you can deploy.
  8. Conduct interoperability exercises to ensure your radio channel plan works with other services.  Do not assume the landline telephone network will work if a significant event takes place.
  9. Have a few key personnel trained on the use of radio planning tools; ask for the help of your local amateur radio operators and your local FCC or Industry Canada representative.
  10. Go for range, not for aesthetics on your vehicles.  Long antennas (½ wave) are ugly and conspicuous but they give you range and best voice quality; give them the highest elevation real-estate on your vehicle.  Insist for the best real-estate for your antennas on fixed towers, top mounted antennas are the best, side mounted antennas will be obstructed by the tower.

The full report for the Canada-United States Border Radio Coverage will be available in May 2011 for limited and controlled distribution.  Requests are to be sent to, Centre for Security Science, Defence R&D Canada.

The Defence R&D Canada – Centre for Security Science is a joint endeavour between the Department of National Defence and Public Safety Canada to strengthen, through investments in science and technology, Canada's ability to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from accidents, natural disasters, or terrorist and criminal acts that impact the safety and security of Canadians.

Intrinsically Safe Discussions Continue

In September 2010, NPSTC learned a new version of the intrinsically safe standard affecting Land Mobile Radio (LMR) would be effective January 1, 2012, and that it may have a serious negative technical and financial impact on public safety users.  An Intrinsically Safe Radio Working Group was immediately formed to research and find solutions to the problems that will be caused once the revised standard is effective.

The impact of the changes to the standard will extend far beyond basic product design considerations on portable radio equipment.  Significant system infrastructure expansion might be necessary to maintain current geographic and in-building coverage, regardless of the fact that funds and additional FCC channels/spectrum necessary to support such expansion are probably not available.

In January 2011, NPSTC issued a comprehensive position paper on the effect of the proposed changes in the LMR intrinsically safe certification, stating its strong concerns and recommending possible solutions.

Who Are the Players?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Society of Automation (ISA), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are organizations that develop consensus standards through the participation of manufacturers, regulators, and consultants as well as standards certification organizations such as FM Approvals.  A standard for intrinsic safety is necessary to ensure that the available electrical and thermal energy in the equipment that may be exposed to hazardous environments is always low enough such that the LMR equipment will never be the source of ignition in a hazardous environment.  The ANSI/ISA 60079 series of standards for intrinsically safe electrical equipment applies to equipment used in hazardous locations, including LMR.

FM 3610:2010 succeeds FM 3610:1988 and adopts the ANSI/ISA 60079-11(2009) standard in total.  The effective date for FM 3619:2010 January 1, 2012 meaning that all new certifications for LMR equipment will be in accordance with FM 3610:2010.  FM 3610:2010 appears to be driven not by a concern the requirements in the FM 3610:1988 standard provide unsafe equipment, but rather is driven by the desire to harmonize the ANSI/ISA 60079 series of standards with international standards.

Chief Paul Szoc, Chair of the Intrinsically Safe Working Group, presented the issue at NPSTC's February meeting and again presented public safety's concerns on a panel held at the International Wireless Expo Convention (IWCE) in March.  The first questions asked of FM Approvals and ISA have been:  "Why the need for a new standard?  There have not been any safety issues with the current standard," Chief Szoc says.  "The financial impact on public safety users is significant.  Projected costs from Pinellas County, FL, estimate the cost of modifications to comply with the FM 3610:2010 requirements are between $36 and 45 million.  This is an outrageous unfunded mandate to taxpayers in every state to accommodate a standard that does nothing to improve public safety communications.  New equipment may not be compatible with current equipment.  The new standard includes requirements that will require manufacturers of LMR equipment to reduce power levels thereby requiring more infrastructure to allow communication."

Issue – Reduced Power

To meet the new FM Approval Standard, the power of radios will need to be reduced.  Handset power is an absolutely critical parameter in the design of radios systems to cover an agency's jurisdictional responsibility.  There exists across America some 60,000 governmental agencies at all levels – local, county, tribal, and state, with corresponding law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, and government service responders.  They all have existing radio systems designed, in part, considering the transmit power of their portable radios.  Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical personnel total approximately 2 to 3 million users.  In addition, there are an estimated 6 to 9 million critical infrastructure users that also make up this market, bringing the total public safety and critical infrastructure market to an estimated 8 to 12 million users.

The typical portable radios utilized by these users range from 2 to 6 watts, varying by frequency band.  A decrease of as little as 3 dB (50%) in the transmit power of a portable radio will cause a coverage reduction of almost 20%.  Further, the power reduction resulting from compliance with the new requirements in the revised Approval Standard could be more severe, resulting in an even more devastating reduction in radio coverage and requiring significant additional tower sites at added costs to compensate for the coverage loss.  As you may be aware, adding additional tower sites not only incurs costs, it also often raises environmental and zoning issues that must be managed, consuming valuable time for public safety agencies and critical infrastructure users.

NPSTC Position
NPSTC has asked FM Approvals to re-affirm in writing its assurance that there are no safety issues with the current FM 3610:1988 standard and products approved to this standard can be safely used after 2011.

ISA should revise, with FM Approvals' support, the ANSI/ISA 60079 standard to include the Division-rating system, the v1.5 safety factor on energy, and other key criteria now in the FM 3610:1988 standard.  FM Approvals should agree to support the above changes and maintain the existing FM 3610:1988 intrinsically safe standard even if ISA does not make the changes proposed.

ISA12 Discussions
The IS radio issue was on the International Society of Automation (ISA) agenda at its twice yearly meeting, held on March 7, 2011.  Bob Speidel, representing the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) on NPSTC's Governing Board, attended the meeting.  Don Root, San Diego Sheriff, represented NPSTC.  "We ended up using a significant part of the day discussing our items and formulating a proposal that will go out to ballot in ISA12.2 in the very near future," says Speidel.  "The ISA 12.2 leadership was very accommodating spending so much time on our issues."

Earlier in the day, Ted Schnaare, Chairman ISA12, asked for list of appropriate changes to the standard, which was assembled by Speidel, and representatives of Harris, Motorola Solutions, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and NPSTC.  Following discussion of the proposed changes, it was decided the key changes that had been proposed would go out for comment within ISA 12.2.  "We expect the ballot will be specifically written as proposed changes for LMR equipment only, which helps our chances of success," said Speidel.

Speidel doesn't expect any formal response on the proposed changes until ISA's Fall 2011 meeting, but hopes there will be some comments and updates available in the interim enabling the team to tweak the proposal as appropriate.

Alternate TIA Standard Possible
Larry Nyberg, the convener of TR-8.21, the new TIA Engineering subcommittee addressing LMR IS issues reported that this new TIA committee can create a new LMR-specific standard for intrinsic safety.  The question is whether the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and their NRTLs [Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories] recognize the TIA standard.  NPSTC, DHS, and representatives of TIA are already reaching out to the appropriate OSHA elements to assure the standards development organizations are doing the correct things to facilitate placement of the developed on OSHA "Recognized Standards List."
Issue – Impact on the Useful Life of Radios and Accessories
Portable radios used by public safety are expected to have a 7 to 10-year life cycle and some users routinely keep the same radios as long as 10 to 15 years.  Compliance with the FM standard requires that a radio, its battery, and any applicable accessories be tested in combination.

Therefore, in addition to threatening the life cycle of radios, the changes in the FM Approval Standard will obsolete radio accessories such as battery chargers, spare batteries, and audio accessories well before their normal life cycle expectancy would expire.  Agencies routinely utilize a 5-year phased implementation plan for their systems.  That means a group of radios can be part of a new system installation, with plans to purchase additional groups of the same radios each year for the next several years.  This provides the benefit of common accessories, product familiarity for the users, and a phased approach to funding.  If suddenly, the same radio can no longer be manufactured or purchased simply because it is made the day after the new "harmonized" intrinsic safety specification goes into effect, the agency's planning is compromised.

FM has never responded to NPSTC's question as to whether they would accept an ANSI-approved TIA standard.  FM has imposed a new due date of June 1 on the manufacturers if they seek certification under the existing 3610 standard.  "However, at the International Wireless Communication Expo (IWCE), during the IS Lunch & Learn session," Speidel says, "Bob Martell, FM, announced that FM has requested approval from ANSI to develop a LMR-specific standard."  TIA and FM could work together to develop a standard.

TIA, FM, UL, and CSA should work together on creating a LMR specific-standard in the TIA process since TIA is an ANSI-certified Standards Development Organization (SDO) and can create an ANSI standard, simply by following the ANSI-approved procedures for TIA.

NPSTC Recommendations
NPSTC's recommendations are for:
  • FM Approvals to postpone the revision to FM 3610:2010 until full resolution for ISA to adopt either changes to ANSI/ISA 60079-11 or to develop an additional standard.
  • FM Approvals to agree to postpone the implementation date of FM 3610:2010, with no expiration of FM 3610:1988 until a minimum January 1, 2017, or until a time agreed upon by all.
  • If FM declines to postpone the implementation date of ANSI/ISA 60079, FM Approvals should agree that all batteries, etc. approved under FM 3610:1988 standard can continue to be manufactured and sold without invalidating their FM intrinsically safe certification.
  • For FM Approvals to indefinitely postpone the effective date of FM 3610:2010 until such time as all consequences to LMR users can be thoroughly analyzed and all negative impacts can be understood and addressed.

The Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) and Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) are following this issue closely and have endorsed NPSTC's work.

Regulatory Update
by Bette Rinehart, Chair, Editorial Review Working Group

In 700 MHz News…
Comment Dates Established for Proposals Outlined in Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in Docket 06-229 National Public Safety Broadband Network
The Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (4th FNPRM) in Docket 06-229 has been published in the Federal Register with comments due April 11, 2011 and replies due May 10, 2011.  This proceeding is seeking comment on many technical and operational aspects of the 700 MHz Public Safety Broadband Network including the question of the eligibility of utilities and other critical infrastructure industries to use the network.  The details follow as reported electronically in NPSTC's January/February Regulatory Update.

The FCC has decided to require the use of Long Term Evolution (LTE) as the common air interface to be used for all networks deployed on the public safety broadband spectrum.  The majority of commenters and the public safety community itself have voiced support of LTE technology.  The Commission decided to reverse its usual policy of technology neutrality to create a technical framework for the 700 MHz broadband network that will accomplish its number one priority:  a nationwide interoperable broadband public safety wireless network.

Specifically, at least 3GPP Standard E-ULTRA Release 8 and associated EPC must be implemented.  Any releases after Release 8 must ensure backward compatibility between all subsequent releases.  The decision requires all public safety networks to support 15 critical Release 8 interfaces that support roaming and ensure multi-vendor interoperability for devices and equipment.  (The 15 interfaces are listed in page 6 of the decision).  Each public safety broadband network operator must certify to the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) that it is supporting the required interfaces prior to "service availability" which is defined as when the system is being used on a day-to-day basis by at least 50 users.

Because no D Block licensee exists, the FCC is staying most of the partnership rules for the time being.  A waiver is still required for any agency who wishes to deploy a broadband network on the public safety broadband spectrum because there is no other way to access the spectrum.

In the Further Notice the FCC is seeking comment on issues related to ensuring that the Broadband Network (PSBN) fully supports nationwide interoperability.  Some of the questions the FCC asks in this proceeding are:

  • Should the Part 90 definition of "interoperability" be changed to match the definition used by the Department of Homeland Security?
  • The FNPRM suggests certain architectural guiding principles that each regional network would be required to support (such as certain baseline applications, home-routed and local-breakout roaming, interference mitigation schemes, minimum levels of spectrum efficiency and coverage reliability, etc.)  Should this framework be codified in the rules? Does the proposed framework include everything the network should support?  Is the Commission the right agency to decide?
  • Should the Commission review the framework at set intervals (2 years is suggested) to ensure that the PSBN evolves and refreshes as new technologies are made available?
  • Should the networks be required to upgrade within certain timeframes?
  • Could a third-party clearinghouse provide such functions as roaming authentication and clearing, directory services and interconnectivity?
  • How can interconnectivity be achieved?  Direct, dedicated interconnectivity between networks is a reliable, secure solution, but is it cost effective nationwide?  Is use of the public Internet an option?  Could third-party network operators provide adequate capacity?  Should there be a single third-party provider or multiple providers?  Who should select the third-party provider(s)?
  • The broadband early deployment waiver recipients networks are required to support five applications:  1) Internet access; 2) Virtual Private Network (VPN) access to home networks and any authorized site; 3) a status "homepage"; 4) network access for users under the Incident Command System; and 5) field-based server applications.  The Further Notice proposes that each public safety broadband network support these five applications and asks detailed technical questions about each one.  Should additional applications be supported such as Status/Information SMS-MMS Messaging and Land Mobile Radio gateways?
  • How can interconnection with legacy public safety systems be addressed?  What are the costs associated with requiring interconnectivity and what is the appropriate timeframe?
  • Minimum data rates of 256 Kbps uplink (UL) and 768 Kbps downlink (DL) for all types of devices for a single user at the cell edge are proposed and each network must provide the minimum data rates based on a sector loading of 70 percent throughout the entire network.  Public safety networks must certify compliance with these minimum data rates within 30 days of service availability.  The certification must include data rate plots that map specific performance levels.  Comment is sought on these proposed requirements.
  • Should coverage requirements (population or geography based) be imposed?  Should there be interim coverage deadlines?
  • The Further Notice proposes an outdoor coverage reliability requirement of 95 percent for all services and applications throughout the network.  Is this reasonable?
  • A requirement that all public safety broadband networks coordinate deployment with any adjacent or neighboring jurisdiction 90 days prior to implementation is proposed.  The notified jurisdiction would have the option to require a written coordination agreement that would then be filed with the Commission.
  • Should the FCC develop and impose interference mitigation requirements?
  • Broadband early deployment waiver recipients are required to protect incumbent narrowband operations through either engineering, geographic separation, or relocation of the incumbent at the waiver recipient's expense.  The Further Notice proposes to continue to require that public safety broadband networks protect narrowband incumbents to the same degree.  Should additional technical rules be adopted to ensure protection of narrowband incumbents?  Should the broadband network operator be required to notify and obtain the consent of the narrowband incumbent before beginning operations?  What are the appropriate timeframes?
  • Are federal entities eligible to directly lease spectrum for broadband?

The Commission has previously determined that utilities and critical infrastructure entities are not eligible to operate on the 700 MHz spectrum.  However, given that many public safety agencies would like to include public works, utilities, and others as secondary users on the networks to share costs, take advantage of existing infrastructure, and coordinate response during emergencies, the Further Notice asks several questions related to compliance with the eligibility requirements imposed by Congress.  Could non-public safety users operate on the system as long as the "principal" purpose of the network was for public safety purposes?  What percentage of network use could secondary users comprise?  How could secondary use be measured?

View the NPRM at  An FCC video provides an overview of the decision and the proposed rules and is available on the FCC's YouTube page at:

FCC Announces Makeup of ERIC Public Safety Advisory Committee
The members of a Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) to the Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) have been announced and include a list of well-known members of the public safety community and active members of NPSTC as well as representatives from AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

On February 2, Chairman Julius Genachowski designated Chief Jeff Johnson, representing the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), as Chairman of the Committee and NPSTC's IACP alternate, Deputy Chief Eddie Reyes, representing the City of Alexandria, Virginia Police Department, as Committee Vice-Chair.

Other representatives from NPSTC include:

  • NPSTC, Tom Sorley, Chair, Technology Committee, City of Houston, TX
  • Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), Richard Mirgon
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Chief Harlin R. McEwen
  • National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), Kevin McGinnis
  • International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA), Chief Douglas M. Aiken
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), William K. Brownlow
  • State of Delaware, Mark Grubb, Chair, NPSTC Participant Development Working Group

NPSTC's member organizations, National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), also have representatives on the PSAC.

The PSAC responsibilities include providing recommendations on the following aspects of the Public Safety Broadband Network:

  • Authentication and encryption requirements
  • Best Practices and Commission actions to ensure reliability, operability, security and interoperability
  • Procedures to address interoperability, roaming, priority access, interconnectivity, gateway functions and interfaces
  • Technical and operational requirements and procedures to ensure a nationwide level of interoperability
  • Ways to strengthen collaboration between communications service providers and public safety during emergencies

The first meeting was held on March 15, 2011, to create working groups and develop policies for operation.  A copy of the Public Notice is available at:

A copy of the Public Notice announcing the first meeting is available at:

Two 700 MHz Regional Plans Approved
The FCC approved the following 700 MHz Regional Plans during February:

The granting of these two additional plans brings the total number of FCC-approved 700 MHz Regional Plans to 39.  Two plans are pending.  "Forty-one down; fourteen to go."

FCC Holds 4.9 GHz Workshop
James Barnett, Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau welcomed attendees to a February 25 workshop that included the history and general overview of the rules related to use of the 4.9 GHz band, and hosted two panels.  NPSTC's Spectrum Management Committee Chair, Dave Buchanan, presented at the workshop, and was joined on a panel by PSWAC Follow-up:  Assessment of Future Spectrum and Technology (AFST) Working Group Chair, Joe Ross; and Interoperability Vice Chair, Pam Montanari.

The first panel discussed public safety deployment in the 4.9 GHz band.  The second panel discussed current deployments and gave suggestions for increasing use of the band.  The primary use of 4.9 GHz at this time seems to be for point-to-point backhaul and point-to-point video.  Users praised the reliability, scalability, and flexibility of the band but pointed out the challenges which included confusion about licensing, uncertainty about actual deployments, and lack of coordination between users.

Possible future uses of the band included:

  • Providing backhaul for the 700 MHz Public Safety Broadband Network
  • Support of PSBN by off loading peer-to-peer direct mode traffic
  • Airborne video without waiver
  • Use in conjunction with other bands

Among the suggestions to improve usage of the band were:

  • Providing a mechanism such as a nationwide database to allow agencies to determine actual deployment of 4.9 GHz within a geographic area
  • Expanding eligibility to include critical infrastructure and commercial users
  • Developing 4.9 GHz standards
  • Providing tools to educate users and vendors on licensing and coordination requirements
  • An on-line tool for modeling fixed and mobile operations
  • 4.9 GHz planning guidelines so that Regions could develop engineering and frequency plans that would accommodate multiple uses
  • Require applicants to go through a Regional Planning Committee prior to licensing

A video of the workshop is available at:

In 800 MHz News…
Use of Old NPSPAC Mutual Aid Frequencies in Canadian Border
In February, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on continued use of "Old NPSPAC" Mutual Aid frequencies along the Canadian border after dismissing a waiver filed by the State of Michigan for that very purpose.
State of Michigan Waiver Denied
The State of Michigan filed a waiver request in January, 2010, asking to continue to operate mobile and portable units on the "old NPSPAC" mutual frequencies within approximately 5 miles of the Canadian border in order to maintain cross-border interoperability.  Michigan noted that many Canadian public safety agencies had the "old NPSPAC" mutual aid frequencies programmed into their radios and once band reconfiguration was complete, would no longer be able to communicate with their U.S. counterparts.  The state offered to work with Sprint Nextel to develop "rules of the road" that would allow both parties to co-exist on the "old NPSPAC" frequencies without interference.

Sprint Nextel opposed Michigan's waiver indicating that the state had not investigated alternative solutions such as providing Canadian agencies access to the Michigan system or providing them with radios compliant with the new band plan.  Sprint also charges that grant of the waiver would prevent Sprint use of those frequencies in Detroit and its suburbs.

The FCC denied the waiver because Michigan had not provided enough information or technical showings to support its claims.  The Commission asked that any future such waivers include showings:

  • That there are no reasonable alternatives
  • Demonstrating that cross-border authorities endorse the waiver
  • That the waiver will provide technically adequate cross-border communications
  • That the waiver proponent will neither cause nor receive objectionable interference from other systems

The text of the decision is available at:

Comment Sought on Continued Use of NPSPAC Mutual Aid Frequencies in the Canadian Border
In response to Petitions for Rulemaking filed by NPSPAC Region 55 (Western NY State) and the National Regional Planning Council (NRPC), the FCC is asking for public comments on whether to permit public safety agencies in the Canadian Border Regions (CBR) to continue to use the "old NPSPAC" Mutual Aid frequencies (in the 821-824/866-869 MHz band) after rebanding is complete.

The petitioners argue that continued use of the old NPSPAC frequencies is needed to maintain interoperability with public safety counterparts in Canada and seek to be able to use them throughout CBRs 1-8 (up to 87 miles from the Canadian border) and that ESMR operators protect those operations.

The Commission is asking for comment on:

  • Should continued use of the former NPSPAC Mutual Aid frequencies be permitted:
    • In the entirety of all Canadian Border Regions or only in a certain mile radius of the border?
    • On all 5 Mutual Aid frequencies or a lesser number?
    • On a day-to-day basis or only during international emergencies?
    • Only by mobiles/portables or used by base stations also?
    • On mobiles/portables limited to a maximum of 4 watts output power?
  • Which Canadian public safety agencies are interested in using the former NPSPAC Mutual Aid frequencies to communicate with US agencies within the CBR?
  • Are there alternatives to the former NPSPAC Mutual Aid channels that would serve the need?
  • Where could ESMR and Public Safety agencies expect to review objectionable interference from one another if using the former NPSPAC Mutual Aid frequencies?
  • What would the economic and other impact be on ESMR licensees and subscribers?

Comments were due March 14; Replies were due March 29. The Public Notice is available at:

U.S. Virgin Islands Reconfiguration Will Begin March 21, 2011
The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing the timetable for 800 MHz band reconfiguration in the US Virgin Islands (Region 48) which began on March 21, 2011 and will continue for twelve months ending on March 21, 2012.
  • 90-day mandatory negotiations began March 21, 2011 and will end on June 20, 2011
  • If an FRA cannot be negotiated and submitted to the TA by June 20, 2011 the parties must begin mediation on June 21, 2011. Mediation will end on July 19, 2011
  • Licensees in the modified Guard Band must make the decision to relocate or remain by March 21, 2011
  • Cost estimates must be prepared and submitted to Sprint Nextel no later than June 20, 2011
  • High-site SMRs must vacate the ESMR band by September 20, 2011
  • Application freeze began February 18, 2011 and will end on August 2, 2011
  • Band reconfiguration will last 12 months and end on March 21, 2012

The text of the Public Notice is available at:

Fourth Report & Order is available at:

Enforcement Bureau Steps Up Efforts to Educate Public and Retailers of Illegality of Cell Phone Jamming Equipment
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has released three educational documents related to cell phone jamming:  a News Release and two Enforcement Advisories – one for retailers and one for consumers.  The advisories warn consumers, manufacturers and retailers that the manufacture, marketing, sale and use of devices that block or "jam" the use of GPS or cell phones is illegal and punishable by fines, seizure of the illegal device and/or imprisonment.

The marketing of cell phone jammers has been on the rise with the devices promoted as a solution to noisy restaurants, classrooms, theatres and meeting rooms.  However, cell phone jammers could also disrupt public safety communications, calls to 9-1-1, or prevent rescuers from being able to locate a missing or endangered individual.

The Advisories explain why cell phone jammers are illegal, the potential penalties and what retailers and consumers can do to comply with FCC regulations.  The Advisories also provide contact names, phone numbers and email addresses to answer questions or obtain additional information.

The text of the FCC News Release is available at:

The FCC Enforcement Advisory:

The FCC Enforcement Advisory for Retailers is available at:

NPSTC Engages to Assess Potential GPS Interference
by Stu Overby, Vice Chair, Spectrum Management Committee

LightSquared (previously SkyTerra) is a company that has spectrum in the 1.5 GHz band adjacent to the spectrum used by all GPS receivers.  LightSquared plans to build an LTE terrestrial network with approximately 40,000 sites which would provide wholesale capacity to commercial broadband providers.  The FCC, NTIA, the community using GPS, and LightSquared all agree that operations could potentially interfere with currently deployed GPS receivers under certain circumstances.

In January, NPSTC submitted a letter to the FCC raising concerns about the potential for interference.  Accurate GPS information is very important to the public safety community.  GPS signals are used for wireless 9-1-1 location, support of dispatch operations which select the "closest responder" based on GPS location, mapping/response directions to responders, and synchronization of simulcast systems across the country.

NPSTC volunteered and has been selected to participate in a working group being co-chaired by LightSquared and the U.S. GPS Industry Council to assess the potential for interference.  NPSTC is being represented on the working group by Gary Pasicznyk, Manager Electronic Engineering Bureau, City & County of Denver, and Dominic Arcuri and Rob Lopez, both with RCC Consultants, Inc.  LightSquared committed to the FCC that it will submit a report by June 15, 2011, to document the potential for interference to GPS and recommended mitigation procedures.

NPSTC Welcomes New Associate Member, the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC)

At the February meeting in San Antonio, Texas, NPSTC's Governing Board welcomed a new associate member, the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), a council of the Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) from the 56 States and territories, supported by the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC).  NPSTC chairman Ralph Haller said that NPSTC is pleased to welcome the NCSWICs as an associate member.  "Its participation will help assure that the SWICs have a voice in NPSTC decisions and that the SWICs can call upon the resources of NPSTC as needed."

Mark Grubb, Chairman of the NCSWICs and Director of the Delaware Division of Communications, will represent the organization on the NPSTC Governing Board.  Mr. Grubb is responsible for the operation and maintenance of Delaware's statewide 700 and 800 MHz public safety radio systems.  Under his leadership, Delaware provides interoperable public safety communications systems serving all full-time and volunteer first responders within the state as well as state government critical infrastructure service providers.

In addition, Mr. Grubb serves as the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) for Delaware.  Mr. Grubb also serves as the Chairman for Regional Planning Committee (RPC) 28 for 800 and700 MHz.  In his other work with NPSTC, he serves as the Working Group Chair for Participant Development.

The NCSWIC has been established to assist state and territory interoperability coordinators to promote the critical importance of interoperable communications and the sharing of best practices.  NCSWIC members play a key role in preparing public safety responders through the development of bottom-up governance structures, standard operating procedures, strategic development and implementation of voice and data technologies, training, exercising, outreach, and technology usage.  "The NCSWICs keep a pulse on public safety communications issues in each state," Mr. Grubb says, "and meet as a national group twice annually to communicate with the states and to communicate back to DHS and groups like NPSTC."

The NCSWIC members enhance the response capabilities of public safety responders by coordinating and collaborating with federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental public safety and public safety responder agencies.

NCSWIC members work with all public safety responders in their respective state or territory to create governance structures that promote and enhance interoperable communications.  This approach ensures that multi-jurisdictional and cross disciplinary coordination occurs among public safety responders and policymakers for the purpose of identifying and implementing solutions that enhance interoperability.

Narrowband Interoperability: It's More than Just the Project 25 Standard
by Larry Nyberg, Telecommunications Industry Association

Ensuring narrowband interoperability is not simply a matter of implementing P25 standard technologies.  Interoperability requires advancement in three equally vital areas of public safety communications that must all be present:  Standards-based technology, harmonized communication system management/operations across neighboring systems, and a consistent regulatory environment.  Project 25 technology defines the interoperable technology needed for the actual communication, but the Project 25 process was neither envisioned nor intended to establish and manage a public safety interoperable voice network.  Such responsibility for procurement, implementation, and effective system management rests with public safety entities, at the local, county, regional, tribal, state, or federal levels.  Effective technical and management approaches at the public safety level, in combination with consistent regulations, are all needed for effective narrowband interoperability.

When talking about 'Project 25,' let's all make sure what we are talking about.  Are we talking about the interoperable standard defined by users, or about the series of standard documents published by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), or the collaborative process between the users and TIA?

Project 25
The Association of Public Safety Officials – International (APCO), National Association of State Telecommunications Directors (NASTD), and agencies of the U.S. federal government (FED) established Project 25 for the purpose of selecting voluntary common system standards for digital public safety radio communications.  APCO/NASTD/FED owns Project 25.
Project 25 Standard
The collection of standards is known as the "Project 25 Standard."  This collection of standards includes, but is not limited to, TIA-102 Standards.  The Project 25 Standard also includes the Project 25 Statement of Requirements (the P25 SoR), and the system reference model selected by APCO/NASTD/FED to meet those requirements.
Project 25 Standard Process
Project 25 is also the term given to the collaborative process between APCO/NASTD/FED, and TIA in the development of TIA-102 standards that APCO/NASTD/FED may include in Project 25 Standards.  The process is defined and documented in a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between APCO/NASTD/FED and TIA.  TIA's Engineering Committee TR-8 promulgates the TIA-102 standard documents at the request of the Project 25.  The TIA-102 suite of standard documents, which describe equipment interfaces of the P25 system reference model, are chosen to be included in the Project 25 Standard by the Project 25 Steering Committee.  APCO/NASTD/FED is the sole developer and formulator of the Project 25 Standard.
The TIA-102 Standard
TIA provides technical leadership by developing a suite of standards for 11 P25 System interfaces and the operational functionalities that enable interoperable public safety narrowband communications.

To start, Project 25 has developed two Common Air Interfaces (CAIs).  The first is the Project 25 Phase 1 Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA), which provides one talk path and packet data service in 12.5 kHz of spectrum for both conventional and trunking operation.  This air interface enables the FCC's 12.5 kHz equivalency mandated by the FCC for the public safety VHF, UHF, and 700 MHz frequency bands.

The second air interface is the Project 25 Phase 2 Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) air interface which provides two talk paths in 12.5 kHz of spectrum.  This interface enables the 6.25 kHz bandwidth equivalency mandated by the FCC for the public safety 700 MHz narrowband channels, and for the VHF and UHF frequency bands, if and when, the FCC sets a date-certain for 6.25 kHz equivalency.  Both air interfaces are applicable to the 800 MHz frequency band.

The Subscriber Data Interface enables the transmission of data from a laptop or Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver (for location services) to the radio for transmission over the P25 Phase 1 FDMA air interface.  On the infrastructure side, an IP Data Gateway permits connectivity from the P25 radio system into a host data network.

TIA has published a set of wireline interface standards.  The Inter RF Sub-System Interface (ISSI) enables radio-to-radio communications across system boundaries.  Subscriber equipment from compliant vendors can now roam and interoperate among different jurisdictions and agencies on infrastructure equipment from different vendors.  The Console Sub-System Interface (ISSI) uses all of the functionality of the ISSI while adding dispatch console requirements.

The Fixed Station Interface (FSI) enables conventional base stations from various manufacturers to be incorporated into an RF sub-system.  The Telephone Interconnect Interface provides connectivity between radios using the RF subsystem and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

TIA publishes standards related to the provision and management of end-to-end encryption systems, leveraging publications of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Processing Standards1.  Interfaces for encryption key loading devices and key management systems are either already published or being addressed.

Further, TIA is producing work products for applications at the request of the Project 25 Process.  Examples of such applications include over the air rekeying and radio unit location services.

The Project 25 process has developed high-level overview descriptions for the Project 25 Network Management Interface, which would allow system administrators to control, monitor, and manage the RF subsystem.

The design, configuration, implementation, and management of each public safety network is complex and critical.  Compliance with Project 25 Standards is voluntary on the part of both public safety and the industry providers.  Ideally, public safety officials will select a Project 25 system to meet the interoperable requirements of neighboring, regional, or statewide systems.  The P25 decision enables the technical interoperability.  However, coordination, training, and inter-governmental agreements among public safety entities – essential to interoperability – are still required.  As the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum2 accurately represents, technology alone cannot solve all interoperability problems.  This factor is reinforced by the Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), Chris Essid, who has stated on numerous occasions that "…interoperability is only 10% technology and 90% coordination…"3

Lastly, the third essential component required for narrowband interoperability is the FCC's regulatory approach.  With multiple digital technologies available and multiple public safety bands in use, interoperability could be more easily achieved if regulators designated a set of channels as interoperability channels in each band and then codified an interoperable technology for those channels.  Finally, to further interoperability, regulators should adopt equipment certification rules requiring all subscriber units, licensed for public safety channels, to meet all interoperability rules.

In summary, interoperability is advancing around the country, albeit at a slower than desirable pace.  Technology alone does not enable interoperability.  Effective governance, well-defined standard operating procedures, training, and day-to-day use of the technology are key components, as well as an effective and consistent regulatory environment.  All of these enablers, implemented jointly, are required for effective interoperable communications.4

1 See for further information.
2 See "Interoperability Continuum, A Tool for Improving Emergency Response Communications and Interoperability", at
3 See "Governance Boosts Interoperability Efforts", Urgent Communications, April 15, 2010, at
4 © 2011 Motorola Solutions, Inc.  All rights reserved.  Reproduced with permission from Motorola Solutions, Inc.

NPSTC Panel at IWCE, BYOC [Bring Your Own Chair]

NPSTC's Executive Director Marilyn Ward said NPSTC's panel was standing room only.  Interested attendees robbed adjoining rooms of chairs so they could hear the latest news from NPSTC's panel.  The panel moderated by NPSTC's Chair, Ralph Haller, who provided an overview of NPSTC's history and mission, included Ms. Ward, who spoke on the intrinsically safe radio standard and the swirl of activity surrounding proposed changes in the standard.

David Buchanan, Chair, Spectrum Management Committee, discussed spectrum issues of concern to public safety and narrowbanding; Harlin McEwen, Chair, Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), reviewed current activities of the PSST, proposed legislation, and the D Block; Andy Thiessen, Vice Chair, Technology Committee, spoke on broadband requirements, and Joe Ross, Chair, PSWAC Follow-up:  Assessment of Future Spectrum and Technology (AFST) spoke on the findings of the operational and technical working groups to help determine future spectrum needs.

Thank You IWCE Volunteers

Thanks to the NPSTC participants who volunteered their time at IWCE.  Our volunteers are the faces and voices of NPSTC and your knowledge and expertise on telecommunications issues is NPSTC's greatest strength.

As always, thank you for your valuable contributions.  From left to right:  Alan Caldwell, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); Lloyd Mitchell, Forestry Conservation Communications Association (FCCA); Larry Nyberg, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA); Lance Valcour, Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG), and Tom Sorley, Chair, Technology Committee.


Narrowbanding 101
by Robert Symons, Wyoming Statewide Interoperability Coordinator Alan Komenski, Washington Statewide Interoperability Coordinator

The purpose of this article is to spread awareness of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate regarding radio communication system narrowband compliance, and to provide an overview of the mandate and its impact on public safety agencies.

The next two years will be a busy time for public safety agencies across the Nation.  With the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) January 1, 2013 narrowbanding mandate deadline approaching, agencies will be devoting significant resources to planning for and executing a coordinated transition.  To help agencies with the transition, this article provides an overview of the narrowbanding mandate and its impact on public safety agencies.  This is the first in a series of narrowbanding articles that will be distributed in the coming months; each of these stakeholder-written articles will provide insight and suggested resources to help with the transition.

What is Narrowbanding?
Simply put, narrowbanding requires VHF and UHF radios to use less radio bandwidth (i.e., spectrum), thus leaving the vacated spectrum available to form new channels.  Narrowbanding ensures more efficient use of the spectrum and greater spectrum access for public safety and non-public safety users.  Narrowbanding may relieve channel congestion and result in increased channel availability.  Narrowband spectrum has been coordinated to users since 1997.  Currently, there is often not enough spectrum available for licensees to expand their existing systems or implement new systems.
Overview of FCC Narrowband Mandate and Deadlines
The FCC mandated that all non-Federal public safety licensees operating 25 kHz (wideband) radio systems in the VHF and UHF bands must migrate to 12.5 kHz (narrowband) emissions on or before January 1, 2013.  Many local public safety radio systems have not migrated to 12.5 kHz emissions yet.  With less than two years to coordinate narrowbanding efforts, concerns are growing that many public safety agencies will not meet the deadline.

This upcoming deadline affects all FCC-licensed State and local public safety radio systems.  Wideband radio operation will violate FCC regulations beginning in 2013, and agencies not meeting that deadline face the loss of communication capabilities or fines.

Because the original narrowbanding rules were adopted in 1995, the FCC believes organizations have had sufficient time to prepare for this migration.  Planning for the narrowband migration in advance of the deadline is essential to avoid shop scheduling issues (as they will be overwhelmed with requests closer to the deadline) and limited availability of replacement equipment.  Failure to address the narrowband migration requirements may result in communications interference, and loss of interoperability.  Agencies should also note that it is highly unlikely that the FCC will extend the January 1, 2013 deadline.

Who is Affected?
This mandate affects all radio systems-including voice, data (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition [SCADA]) and telemetry-operating at VHF (150-174 MHz) and UHF (421-512 MHz) utilizing FCC Part 90 frequencies made up of the public safety and industrial/business licensees.  This includes, but is not limited to State and local governments, public safety agencies, public works, utilities, hospitals, private industry, higher education institutions, and K-12 schools.  Certain FCC frequencies designated for paging use are excluded from the narrowbanding mandate.
How to Prepare for Narrowbanding
  1. Verify that your company or organization has a current and valid FCC Part 90 radio station license.  Click here to do a FCC License search:
  2. Conduct a full inventory of all radios in your system, including all portable (hand-carried) radios, mobile (in-vehicle) radios, dispatcher-used radios, wireless data or SCADA radios, and on- or off-site base or repeater radios.
  3. Contact a local professional two-way radio service vendor for assistance in determining which models are capable of being re-programmed for narrowband operation and which models are not.  Most new equipment has the capability for both 25 kHz and 12.5 kHz operation, because any VHF/UHF radio equipment accepted by the FCC after February 14, 1997, had to have 12.5 kHz capability.
  4. Initiate the internal business process of budgeting for and procuring any new narrowband capable replacement radios that may be needed as well as contracted labor to program radios.  Many public safety agencies only have one budget cycle left to secure funding.
  5. Develop a "wideband" to "narrowband" system conversion plan that reflects well-coordinated logistical and implementation strategies.  The plan should address:
    1. The replacement and installation of any new narrowband-capable off-site base or repeater station radio(s) needed in advance
    2. The reprogramming of all radios in a system; this should occur simultaneously, if possible, to assure minimal disruption to normal radio communication operations
    3. Potential loss of radio system coverage
    4. Include local, regional, and statewide mutual aid channels
  6. Coordinate narrowbanding implementation schedules with neighboring public safety agencies and other non-governmental agencies that might access the channels that you are responsible for.  Coordination with other agencies is an essential component of the narrowbanding process.  If coordination does not take place, communications with other critical agencies may be compromised; this will prove especially damaging during emergency situations.
  7. As soon as possible, schedule and coordinate with your radio service vendor dates and times for the actual system conversion (or cutover).  Ensure that all radio users have been advised in advance and are aware of the process.  Try to coordinate narrowbanding with regularly scheduled radio maintenance, if possible.
  8. Finally, modify your FCC radio station license to remove any "wideband" emission designators, replacing them with the correct "narrowband" emission designators.  This step may occur earlier in the process or at the end; regardless, it needs to take place before the process can be considered complete.  (Please note: various constraints may prevent converting all operations to new narrowband emissions at the same time and on all licensed frequencies.)  Click here for instructions on how to modify your FCC license:
Additional Information Resources:
The following resources or websites may provide additional information on narrowbanding.
  1. FCC Narrowbanding Website:  Includes a countdown clock, recent articles written about narrowbanding, links to helpful resources, and FCC contact information.  (
  2. FCC Narrowbanding Mandate – A Public Safety Guide for Compliance: A guide published by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and International Municipal Signal Association that provides guidance to State and local public safety entities on the requirements of the FCC Narrowbanding Mandate.  (
  3. NPSTC Narrowbanding Website:  A comprehensive list of narrowbanding resources including technical briefs, articles about the narrowbanding process, the cost of narrowbanding, and general fact sheets about narrowbanding.  (
  4. WirelessRadioNarrowbanding Website:  Provides information for FCC Part 90 Private Land Mobile Radio (LMR) licensees, dispatch system managers, consultants, integrators, sales and service facilities and end-users facing the narrowbanding deadline.  (
  5. Vermont Communications (VCOMM) Narrowbanding Website:  Provides information about what narrowbanding is, how to prepare for the deadline, instructions on how to narrowband FCC licenses, and links to useful narrowbanding resources.  (

Risk 700 MHz Frequencies Will Revert to FCC if 700 MHz State Licensees Miss April 2012 Deadline for Progress Report
submitted by David Warner, Spectrum Management Public Safety Communications, Radio Engineering Division Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)

In April 2012, all 700 MHz state license authorizations must meet an FCC benchmark.  The FCC requires that all 700 MHz, 'State Licensees,' indicate how much progress they have made towards the advancement of their respective 700 MHz system(s).

Because high-power broadcast television stations operated in the 700 MHz band in 2002, the FCC granted the state licenses for a 15-year license term and did not impose construction deadlines until after the broadcasters had moved out of the band.  The 700 MHz narrowband state licenses are geographic in nature giving authorization to construct base stations anywhere within the state or commonwealth without (in most cases) any additional site-specific licensing.

Because the licenses are geographic rather than site-specific, the FCC imposed "substantial service" construction benchmarks on these authorizations:

  • April 26, 2012 – the state must be providing or be "prepared to provide" substantial service to 1/3 of the population or territory
  • April 27, 2017 – the state must be providing or be "prepared to provide" substantial service to 2/3 of the population or territory

To that extent, there may be an impact to those states that either miss the filing or are unaware of the requirement for one reason or another.  Moreover there are consequence(s) for missing the April 2012 build-out requirement to the 'State Licensee' stakeholder.  One consequence that may not be well known is that the frequencies may automatically revert back to the native/geographical Regional Planning Committee (RPC) per Part 90.529, 2(d),(e).  Should this occur and go unnoticed by the respective 'State Licensee' stakeholders, they may be in for a major disruption to ongoing planning of state/statewide license based systems.

NPSTC Working Group News

The mission of NPSTC's newly reconstituted Narrowbanding Below 512 Working Group is to assess the status of Narrowbanding Below 512 MHz on a nationwide basis and provide a central repository for information to assist agencies in meeting the 2013 narrowbanding deadline.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated the transition to narrowbanding be complete by January 1, 2013.  Narrowbanding will ensure more efficient use of the spectrum and relieve congestion.

Meeting the deadline is important to avoid interference or interoperability problems.  Narrowbanding can be compared to train travel.  We need to make certain that we get all the passengers to the train station, on to a train to the same destination, and on time.  If adjacent jurisdictions do not accomplish narrowbanding in coordination, serious interoperability problems will occur.

NPSTC's Working Group issued a questionnaire on December 15, 2010 that closed on January 29, 2011 receiving 360 responses.  Three-quarters said narrowbanding will require coordination with other entities with whom they interoperate.

The results indicate the following:

  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents have narrowbanded.
  • A little more than 20 percent intend to move to the 700 or 800 MHz band and will not be narrowbanding.
  • Almost 70 percent have developed a plan for narrowbanding and almost 60 percent know how much it will cost.
  • Over 50 percent do not know how they will fund narrowbanding.
  • Almost 80 percent say they do not plan to file a waiver request with the FCC.
  • Almost all respondents, 86.7 percent, said they will have to buy new equipment to comply with narrowbanding.
Interoperability Issues
The questionnaire respondents also shared their concerns with personal comments.  From one respondent, "We currently utilize 800 MHz as our main communication source, however our neighboring communities utilize VHF radios and we must keep VHF radios for interoperability.  Our VHF radios are not capable of operating within the mandated bandwidths.  Due to budget cuts and other financial issues, we have not been able to upgrade our radios to meet the goals of the FCC."

"Capable infrastructure equipment has not been changed as of this date due to surrounding interoperable agencies that do not have the capability and/or have a complete plan in place," said another.  "Additionally, alerting pagers will require replacement."

"We were the only community in the County that made the move to 800 MHz about 10 years ago.  However, due to all the other communities still operating with VHF radios, we had to maintain our old radios in order to communicate with them during mutual aid situations."

"The Region has 449 public safety agencies of which 200 plus use VHF and many of those need narrowband upgrades.  The Region is looking to coordinate a major effort in September of 2012 to narrowband the entire region at one time."

Funding Problems
"I would love to; however, a bigger need is to replace our 1979 fire pumper, I am seeking funds for a new truck."
Funding issues are, as always, a huge problem.  Said one respondent, "Unfortunately the plan timetable was compromised due to extreme budget cuts that took place in 2008 and 2009.  Cuts that caused lay offs within my organization let alone budget cuts to equipment purchases."

Other comments include:  "Our budget is not available until July 2013."  From another participant, "Without a funding source, development of a timetable is difficult/impossible."  And others said, "Yes, if funds can be found in an already stretched budget," and, "We have established a time frame but will have trouble sticking to it due to financial strain."

Many Helpful Resources Available
NPSTC is working with the FCC, Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), Association of Public Safety Communications Officials – International (APCO), Statewide Interoperability Councils (SWICs), and various local resources.  The Narrowbanding Working Group has posted a resource map on NPSTC's website with clickable links to points of contact in states and regions to contact for assistance.  OEC's narrowband license tool is very valuable.

OEC has developed a map-based Internet tool that visually depicts the status of narrowbanding that provides a map and spreadsheet, available at  A document is being developed that provides detailed instructions for using the tool and will be distributed once finalized.

The FCC has developed a website devoted to narrowbanding ( and an email address to which licensees can submit and receive answers to narrowbanding-related questions –

FCC Reconstitutes CSRIC and Seeks Nominations for Committee
submitted by Bill Brownlow, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

Recently the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) completed and released 10 reports and recommendations following 2 years of work.  The current members of the Council were thanked for their service and the members of this Federal Advisory Committee were dismissed as required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).  I participated as an appointee representing the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC).

Members of the Committee were formed into working groups, which have published the following reports that may be downloaded from

WG 1A – Public Safety Consolidation – Best Practices and Recommendations
WG 2A – Cyber Security Best Practices
WG 2B – MSRC Best Practice Updates
WG 4A – Best Practices for Reliable 9-1-1 and E9-1-1
WG 4B – Transition to NG9-1-1
WG 4C – Technical Options for E9-1-1 Location Accuracy
WG 5A – CAP Introduction
WG 6   – Best Practice Implementation
WG 7   – Pandemic Planning – Priority Service Requirements
WG 8   – ISP Network Protection Practices

Several of the working groups made recommendations for additional study on issues uncovered by their work.  The FCC has reconstituted the CSRIC and is currently seeking nominations for Committee members.  Additional information may be obtained through:

FCC Re-charters the CSCRIC and Seeks Nomination by April 22, 2011 for Membership.  Contact:  Lisa M. Fowlkes at (202) 418-7452, at or Jeffery Goldthorp at (202) 418-1096, at

Narrowbanding Pointers from the FCC

On January 26, the FCC held a workshop on VHF/UHF narrowbanding to assist licensees in completing the transition to narrowband radio communications by January 1, 2013.

Licensees facing unique circumstances may request waivers, but waiver requests must meet a high standard and are not routinely granted.  Those licensees should continue to plan and prepare and make informal contact with the Bureau prior to filing.  There is no set date for moving to 6.25 kHz technology and it will not be set without a further notice and comment period.

Licensees should modify their license to add a narrowband emission designator prior to commencing narrowband operations.  Licensees may maintain both narrowband and wideband designators on their licenses during the transition.  After the transition is complete, the licensees should then remove the wideband designator.  All this can be accomplished on the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS).

Frequency coordination is not required for the addition of the narrowband emissions designator or removal of the wideband emissions designator, provided no other changes are being made.  For licensees north of Line A or west of Line C, reduction in bandwidth does not require Canadian coordination.

Frequency coordination is required when narrowbanding is combined with other modifications that alter a station's footprint, for example, changes in location, antenna height, ERP, or when switching from analog to digital emissions.

Source: Presentation by Roberto Mussenden, FCC Policy Division

Since We Last Met

NPSTC and LMCC Submitted Comments on Promoting More Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Dynamic Spectrum Use Technologies:  On February 28, 2011, NPSTC submitted Comments in response to the Commission's Notice of Inquiry (NOI) released November 30, 2010, seeking comment on the ways in which dynamic spectrum access technology can promote more intensive and efficient use of the radio spectrum.  NPSTC supports the overall inquiry regarding dynamic spectrum access technologies and believes there are a number of open questions that must be addressed before such technologies are deployed in public safety spectrum.

NPSTC noted that it believes that any testing of DSA technologies in the public safety spectrum should be conducted by and for the public safety community.  The viability of DSA equipment for public safety hinges largely on its implementation without interference and on how well it can meet public safety operational requirements.

NPSTC Submitted Comments in Response to FCC's Rapidly Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture Public Notice:  NPSTC submitted Comments in response to the Commission's Public Notice (PN), Rapidly Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture Capable of Providing Immediate Communications to Disaster Areas on February 28, 2011.  The Commission sought comment on current and future technologies, specifically aerial telecommunications architecture, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or balloon mounted or unmounted systems, that can be rapidly deployed to an area within the first few hours after major natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

NPSTC Urges FCC To Test for Interference to Public Safety GPS:  NPSTC wrote asking the Commission to ensure public safety use of GPS is protected from potential interference that could result by granting LightSquared's application to operate a terrestrial wireless service in a band allocated to mobile space-based services by deploying a network of densely populated terrestrial transmitters whose transmissions would blanket entire urban areas.  This could radically change and degrade the spectrum environment in which adjacent GPS signals are received, as strong signals from the LightSquared facilities could block GPS reception by public safety communications facilities and devices.

ARRL Files on BPL Interference with FCC:  NPSTC member, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) filed a complaint with the FCC over what it says has been "ongoing harmful interference and egregious rules violations" involving broadband-over-power-line (BPL) communications systems installed in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Indiana by International Broadband Electric Communications, Inc. (IBEC), according to an article in TRDaily.

In a complaint filed in late December, ARRL asked the Commission to "initiate immediately an enforcement proceeding regarding these BPL systems, and cause them to cease operation until such time as they are each in full compliance with the Commission's Rules."

New FCC Blog
The FCC has started to blog on some of the technical issues the FCC is addressing on public safety broadband interoperability.  An example follows:

Architectural Framework for Public Safety Broadband Network, March 18th, 2011 by Behzad Ghaffari – Systems Engineering Chief, ERIC, PSHSB, Do we need one?

On Jan 25th, 2011, the Commission adopted Long Term Evolution (LTE) as the common air interface for the nationwide interoperable broadband network for public safety in the 700 MHz band.  This order also adopted a set of LTE interfaces to ensure interoperability and roaming.  To this end, this item set a minimum level of requirements to establish the technology and standards on which a nationwide interoperable broadband network is to be developed.  This was a significant step but certainly not the last one towards nationwide interoperability.  Considerable work remains in establishing and adopting rules to ensure nationwide interoperability for this network.

In the same item, the FCC also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that addresses a host of issues related to achieving nationwide interoperability.  This includes questions about an architectural framework for the network.  When we talk about architecture, it may sound like we are building a house; but in our case, this architectural framework will provide a view of the final network build out, a roadmap to signify the evolution steps for network, and the capabilities offered to users.

While this notice does not dictate network architecture, it does set the stage for ways to achieve an architectural framework by inquiring about guiding principles.  Using the same house building analogy, we may not want to mandate exactly what the house should look like, but we may want in principle to ensure that it is built on one acre of land, with a kitchen, a family room, a dining room, a living room, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a basement.  There will be many different ways to design a house with these characteristics, but they are all principally built based on this given data.  We proposed some guiding principles for the construction of this nationwide broadband network in the notice and sought comment on many open issues.  We look forward to reviewing the input on this very important issue, for what may be the very foundation of the public safety broadband network.

NPSTC Volunteers
NPSTC's volunteers offer their time, hard work, and expertise on telecommunications issues and are NPSTC's greatest strength.  Mark Grubb, Chair, Participant Development Working Group, has been reaching out to NPSTC's volunteers to ascertain their interest and send them to appropriate Committees and Working Groups.  NPSTC has 150 volunteers on 20 Working Groups.  In addition to volunteering with NPSTC's Working Groups, volunteers participate on NPSTC's behalf in the following groups:
  • State Department, Ralph Haller
  • Louisiana State University Communication Leadership Registry Committee, Lloyd Mitchell
  • FCC Advisory Committee, Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), Bill Brownlow
  • U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) Industry Council Appointment, Gary Pasicznyk, Manager Electronic Engineering Bureau, City & County of Denver; Dominic Arcuri/Alternate Rob Lopez, RCC
  • ISA12.02/SC31G USTAG Representative, Chief Paul Szoc
  • Wireless Forum (Formerly, SDR), John Powell
  • SAFECOM, Chief Doug Aiken and Marilyn Ward
  • FCC Emergency Response Interoperability Center Public Safety Advisory Committee (ERIC PSAC), Chief Doug Aiken, Bill Brownlow, Brian Fontes, Mark Grubb, Chief Harlin McEwen, Kevin McGinnis, Deputy Chief Eddie Reyes, Tom Sorley, and Chief Charles Werner
OEC Issues New Guides and Tools
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has developed a map-based Internet tool that visually depicts the status of narrowbanding that provides a map and spreadsheet, available at  A document is being developed that provides detailed instructions for using the tool and will be distributed once finalized.

OEC has developed a number of other new guides including a regional governance guide, and, currently in final review, narrowbanding, performance management, and system life cycle guides.  In development, OEC is working on a new regional interoperable communications plan template, and brochures on the Communications Unit Leader (COML) program and the evolution of Land Mobile Radio (LMR) and broadband.

OIC Improving Public Safety Communications Technology
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) has completed four multi-band radio multi-band radio pilots in Blaine, WA, and with the Vancouver Transit Police, Murray State University, and Michigan Medical Services with a draft report for each pilot under review.  The MBR pilot has been expanded in the National Capital Region to include the U.S. Park Police and Amtrak and OIC has started a pilot in Arizona associated with a NASCAR even.

Voice Over Internet Protocol is a broad, emerging technology area that allows for the transmission of real-time voice services through Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks.  The use of IP networks as the transport mechanism enables significant flexibility in call placement options, device addressing, and device placement.  Additional flexibility is achieved because devices can connect by directly addressing each other over any network; with VoIP, there is no need for the burdensome switching, routing, and billing infrastructures that are typically used for telephone services.  In fact, the use of IP-based networks enables voice transport between any two devices connected to the network – provided the security policies allow access and VoIP has been implemented in an interoperable manner.

As manufacturers have begun implementing VoIP in their products, confusion has been growing around the use of the technology in public safety communications.  To address this problem, DHS and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) gathered key stakeholders from the public safety and industry communities to form a working group.  Led by OIC and DOC's Public Safety Communications Research Program, the Public Safety VoIP Working Group works to define and clarify the expectations for VoIP in the public safety environment.

The VoIP Working Group conducted a multi-jurisdictional test of the bridging system interfaces (BSI).  The demonstration will use disparate systems to test the successes and barriers in using the BSI profile specifications and examine whether the profile improves interoperable communications.  The VoIP Working Group held a roundtable meeting at the recent International Wireless Communication Expo to discuss the development strategy, timeline, and requirements for the remaining VoIP interfaces.  They are seeking participants with a solid technical background and those who represent radio or console manufacturers for its Radio Site Interface Subgroup.

The Video Quality in Public Safety (VQiPs) Working Group hosted a fourth workshop in Boulder, CO, with 50 participants from academia, public safety, industry, and standards groups.  For emergency responders using incident video services, a clear picture can mean the difference between life and death.  Video applications are quickly emerging as an essential component in the effort to create seamless communications among emergency responders.  As video technology has evolved, the array of options for public safety practitioners has grown and the interoperability challenges have become increasingly complex.

In 2005, researchers at the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) began conducting subjective testing of individual public safety applications and convened panels of recorded video experts to study the outcomes of those tests.  ITS also researched various video quality and interoperability efforts and found that several organizations and agencies were developing their own guidelines aimed at improving the quality and interoperability of video in public safety.  Federal partners saw the value in bringing the leaders of these projects together with other public safety practitioners and manufacturers to discuss common challenges and lay the groundwork for the development of solutions.

OIC in partnership with the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, hosted a VQiPS conference in February 2009 and February 2010.  Both of the conferences provided stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss their successes and the challenges related to video quality and interoperability.  DHS is currently reviewing the Task-Based Tactical and Surveillance Video Quality Test Report, which describes laboratory studies that investigated the level of quality required for tactical, live, and recorded surveillance public safety video application.

Can You Believe It's That Time Again?  Richard DeMello Award Nominations
Each year NPSTC presents an award to one individual in public safety communications who has demonstrated the highest levels of personal and professional conduct and performance in the local, state and national public safety communications arena.  The award was named to honor the achievements of Richard DeMello, one of the founding fathers of NPSTC.  The award is sponsored by and presented during the Annual Awards Banquet of the Radio Club of America.  This year the banquet will be held Saturday, November 19, 2011 in Dallas Fort Worth, TX.

We encourage your participation to help us identify this year's honoree.  Nominations will be accepted through June 1, 2011 and a vote to determine the 2011 recipient will be conducted electronically beginning June 15 and ending by June 30, 2011.

The nomination form is located on NPSTC's website at  Please submit your nomination to

Don't Forget To Participate in Poll:  How Have your Communications Changed Since 9/11
The year 2011 marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and there will be many memorial events planned.  But also in the wake of that tragedy, there have been many improvements in all areas of public safety including public safety telecommunications.  In an effort suggested by the Office of Emergency Communications and developed by interested public safety volunteers around the country, there are three initiatives underway to describe how much has been accomplished in public safety communications since September 11, 2001.

One of the initiatives is the creation of an Internet-based timeline to document the comprehensive catalogue of achievements that showcase the historical framework and the story of interoperability.  SAFECOM will document and publish a federal view of the timeline while NPSTC will host an Internet-based national timeline allowing stakeholders from all over the country to post local achievements.

Here's how to participate and add your event to the 9/11 timeline.  Go to and sign up.  Join Dipity and click on the slider at the far left to add an event.  A dialogue box opens enabling you to add the following information:

Title = Name of Event or Milestone
Date = Enter day and/or month and Year of Milestone
Description = Add a few sentences about the Milestone such as names of organizations that participated and why Milestone was significant.
Picture = Option to add a photo related to Milestone.  This could be photo of participants, cover page of document, logo of organization, etc.
Link = Option to add a URL related to Milestone.  You can link to documents (e.g. Governance Charter), press releases, or whatever helps provide more information about our Milestone.
Location = Enter the jurisdiction where the Milestone took place (could be a city, county, tribal, or state location).  The event is automatically geocoded and viewable on a map.
Video URL = option to add video of Milestone.  It could be a video from the event (exercise, training), press from the event or other.

The 9/11 Working Group thanks you for your participation in this important and commemorative event.  Public safety has worked hard at all levels of government to create a prepared nation.  Share your contribution and achievements today.

APCO/NENA Host Western Region Conference in 2012
If you would like to publicize your upcoming conferences, let us know.  Email to provide newsletter articles or to let us know what your organization is doing.

NPSTC Working Group News
by Andy Thiessen, Chair Broadband Working Group

Last September 2010, the Broadband Working Group (BBWG) began meeting by phone and in person to develop a functional definition of mission-critical voice requirements for broadband.  The functional, qualitative descriptions of public safety mission-critical voice were developed through the collective volunteer efforts of the NPSTC BBWG.  The definitions provide a consistent basis by which the public safety community can discuss mission-critical voice as it relates to the future of public safety communications, i.e., broadband.

Each of these functions was discussed at length within the Working Group.  These definitions capture the essence of what the public safety community expects when using the term mission-critical voice while explicitly not defining particular solutions.  One important aspect of these descriptions to note is that while the working group expects all of these functions to be present for mission-critical voice, it doesn't expect that the same technology and spectrum will necessarily be used to address each area.

The completed document was released to NPSTC's member organizations and the public safety community at large in January for broad review and to ensure that the document had the correct focus and included appropriate and complete information.  The comment period closed on February 6, 2011.  A conference call was held on February 24 to begin the comment resolution process.  The major comment areas suggested that the group should strengthen the direct mode section to indicate that this feature is the key feature in defining mission critical voice.  Comments received from the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials – International (APCO) suggested potential standardization of the requirements definition.  The comment resolution period is expected to last 4 to 8 weeks before the final document is ready for publication and potential standardization.

Next Steps for the BBWG
It was assumed that the second task of the BBWG would be to update the Statement of Requirements (SoR).  We have received good suggestions for prioritization of the work effort and what topic areas should be covered, but currently there are not enough people participating in the projected effort.  The current plans are to solicit comments and publish each section individually until the entire document is finished.

A potential third task for the Working Group is participation in an active 3GPP standards development activity.  The Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Program is participating in the 3GPP standards development upon which LTE is based.  One current activity within 3GPP that we believe is relevant to public safety is an effort titled NOVES, or non-voice emergency services.  While the current scope of this work is non-voice communications between a consumer and a PSAP, we believe the standards developed out of this work will be highly relevant for non-voice communications between public safety users and dispatch or other public safety entities.  As such, we are going to create a NOVES Task Group under the Working Group to explore what this effort is doing, and what input the public safety community might have into this active effort.

Another item to consider taking on revolves around the discussions about public safety's priority and quality of service expectations.  As you know, priority and quality of service functionality is built into the LTE standards.  In order to help set expectations among the user community, as well as ensure standards-based (read interoperable) solutions for these areas, we need to start looking at what public safety's requirements are in these areas, potentially expanding what was covered in the 2007 SoR.  Recent discussions have included the development and standardization of a framework for each topic that would be based on National Incident Management System (NIMS)/Incident Command System (ICS).

Finally another important task for the BBWG to consider is a definition akin to what the group has worked on for mission-critical voice but for state/local broadband control during an incident.  For the past couple of months, there has been a lot of discussion on ensuring that state/local public safety users maintain adequate "control" over the broadband network during an incident to ensure needs are met.  As with mission-critical voice, it isn't clear that everyone has the same understanding of what control means and what public safety really wants or needs to be able to do to the network during an ongoing incident.  In order to help bound the discussions, we need to define what control really means.

Contact Andy Thiessen to participate in these important discussions at
Important Dates
Date Event Location
January 17–21 NFPA National Fire Alarm Code Meeting San Diego, CA
February 6–9 APCO Western Conference Ontario, CA
February 28–March 1 NPSTC Quarterly Committee Meeting San Antonio, TX
March 7–11 IWCE Las Vegas, NV
March 28–31 NENA 9-1-1 Goes to Washington Conference Washington, DC
May 16–17 NPSTC Quarterly Committee Meeting Washington, DC
Publication Information

NPSTC Quarterly is the newsletter of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC).  NPSTC is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.  Funding for the NPSTC newsletter is provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) and the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC).  We welcome questions, comments, and story ideas.  Please contact the Support Office at (866) 807-4755 or by email at

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