Thursday, June 18, 2015

Your Public Safety T-Band Radio Frequencies for Sale?

House Hearing Draws Questions of Whether FirstNet Will Replace LMR Networks

Many of our public-safety customers stand to lose their primary radio frequencies in
the next few years as part of the federal government’s plan to build out a
nationwide broadband network for first responders. The FCC intends to “take
back” all T-band (470-512MHz) frequencies and auction them to the highest
bidder in the hope of raising capital to begin the construction of the FirstNet
network. T-band frequencies are widely used by law enforcement agencies in the
San Francisco Bay Area.

These customers wonder whether FirstNet will replace their primary radio systems. In
an article by Sandra Wendelken, Editor of “Mission Critical Communications”
Media Group, this question was raised. 

The sustainability of mission-critical voice communications networks was a topic highlighted by several lawmakers during a House Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing June 16, 2015 as they discussed the planned First Responder 

Network Authority (FirstNet) Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

Rep. Yvette Clarke from New York asked if current public-safety communications
networks will be phased out as FirstNet is deployed and whether it will be the
primary form of communications for agencies. 

FirstNet Acting Executive Director TJ Kennedy said the FirstNet broadband network will be complementary to LMR networks, adding “LMR systems should continue to be maintained. They are very valuable to public safety”. 

Rep. Chris Collins from New York asked whether current New York public-safety
agencies would have to throw away all their radios. “Maintain the LMR networks you have now and add broadband,” Kennedy said.  

Stu Davis, Ohio chief information officer and assistant director of the Ohio 
Department of Administrative Services, who testified at the hearing with
Kennedy, said a sustainable business model is critical considering many users
of Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS), the state’s LMR network, can’t afford the $20 per month user fee. FirstNet’s subscriber fees are
expected to be considerably higher. 

How will you be impacted? SF Bay Area law enforcement agencies that rely on T-band based radio systems will need to evaluate their options. Is it too late to overturn the decision to “take back” the T-band frequencies? What are the costs to build a replacement system?  Will a regional radio system satisfy their coverage requirements?

The answers to these questions depend on your situation, and can get complicated. Please call me soon so we can talk about it, and what you might be able to do to safeguard your force’s future access to clear, reliable communications – the lifeblood which gives your officers the ability to do their jobs effectively and safely.

MMC Numbers:

     Phone 650-367-1992
     Fax 650-367-1995
     Toll-Free 800-383-2929

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