April 2011 Inbox
April 16, 2011
Following are comments we’ve received from readers about recent online and print news and articles. If you’d like to comment on an article, email edit@RRMediaGroup.com
Why do they have to operate on the amateur bands at all? There are quite a few vacated TV frequencies that are usable.
TETRA is a great technology and meets nearly every need of the utility industry. However, the perceived savings in subscribers will become swallowed up quickly by the increased amount of infrastructure needed. And with Project 25 (P25) subscriber prices coming down quickly (less than $1,000), the reality is TETRA is not going to "blow away the competition" in an apples-to-apples comparison.
Kathy Nelson, a principal telecommunications engineer at Great River Energy (GRE), is proudly carrying the TETRA banner, but the reality is the system she supports would have to double in size, and hence cost (initial and ongoing) would be overwhelming. The same applies for the vast majority of utilities in the United States, with the exception of condensed, urban-area utilities. During the past couple years, the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) has seen presentations demonstrating the difference between TETRA coverage versus Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and P25, and the proof is fairly apparent that TETRA, while probably the better technology, is not necessarily the best solution. The coverage comparisons only come from tightly controlled pilots projects with engineers on-site ready to make any needed alterations.
Some of the other issues are (1) TETRA provides no future-resistant upgrade path. TETRA 2 requires a complete forklift of the current infrastructure, and so does adding TETRA Enhanced Data Services (TEDS) high-speed data; (2) MPT and P25 can also be considered "mature" technologies if measured by the same timeline standard of TETRA; (3) the Motorola Solutions intellectual property rights (IPR) issues simply have not been resolved, and Motorola is playing the “wait them out” game. They have no reason to allow TETRA into North America. Most of the manufacturers mentioned and many TETRA companies not mentioned are simply waiting on the sidelines for either the FCC or Motorola Solutions to act.
Unfortunate but true, those lawmakers and witnesses at the House hearings are right on the money. Simply put, no one has the funding resources to support the exclusive use of D block spectrum by public safety. The FCC rules have similarly left the 700 MHz narrowband spectrum nearly fallow because of the uncertainty of deadlines imposed. Wireless technology investments for public safety must yield a 20-year plus useful life. Gone are the days of the seven- to 10-year technology changes.
Washington Department of Transportation
Does it always have to boil down to money? If the commercial interests and their so-called “industry experts” succeed in persuading Congress to auction off the D block, there will never be another opportunity for consolidation of adjacent 700 MHz “blocks” for public-safety use. The result will be continuation of fragmented bits of spectrum allocated to public safety, exacerbating the lack of interoperability we now have to contend with.
Manager, Program Support
Orange County (Calif.) Sheriff's Dept.
Communications and Technology Division
This sounds like a couple of kids having a fight in the playground. After it’s all over, they dust themselves off, and it’s back to the way things were before. Perhaps we should let all the companies know from the onset that if they can’t play nice, then they’ll all get kicked out of the sandbox.
Electronic Communications Systems Technician
Spokane City Radio Shop