Repost: WHY CAN’T PUBLIC SAFETY JUST USE CELL PHONES AND SMART PHONES?

VIA N5FDL AMATEUR RADIO

From: National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (npstc.org) via Chris Quirk W6CJQ

Why can’t public safety just use cell phones and smart phones for their mission critical voice communications?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

Although public safety regularly use cell phones, smart phones, and other commercial wireless devices and services as a secondary form of communications, these devices and systems are currently not sufficiently suited for public safety mission critical voice communications during critical incidents.

Public safety officials cannot depend upon commercial systems that can be overloaded and unavailable.   Experience has shown such systems are often the most unreliable during critical incidents when public demand overwhelms the systems.

Public safety officials have unique and demanding communications requirements. Optimal public safety radio communications require:

 

  • Dedicated channels and priority access that is available at all times to handle unexpected emergencies.
  • Mission-critical one-to-many group capability, a feature not available in today’s commercial cellular systems.
  • Highly reliable, secure, and redundant networks under local control that are engineered and maintained to withstand natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • The best possible coverage within a jurisdictional area, with a minimum of dead zones – even in areas where commercial cellular services are not economically viable.
  • And, unique, ruggedized equipment designed for quick response in emergency situations. First responders must not be forced to dial, wait for call connections, or get busy signals when seconds mean the difference between life and death!

 

Why can’t public safety just use the planned nationwide publicsafety broadband network (NPSBN) for their mission critical voice communications?

Again, it’s not that simple.

Although the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have voice capabilities that will be valuable to public safety, the network will not be able to initially provide (for many years and maybe never) the mission critical level of voice service and dependability needed by public safety.   The NPSBN is intended to provide urgently needed broadband data capabilities for public safety and is not initially being designed to replace current land mobile radio (LMR) mission critical public safety voice systems.

One key element lacking for the NPSBN to replace LMR is that the NPSBN will use LTE commercial technology, a network technology that does not currently provide the “OFF NETWORK” capability that is critical to public safety.  This means that when the broadband network is not available or not reachable there will be no communications, a critical requirement for public safety.

Other key elements required for mission critical voice include but are not limited to:

 

  • Nationwide broadband build out:  It will take 10 years or more to build out the nationwide public safety broadband network to provide mission critical coverage equal to current public safety land mobile networks.
  • Direct Mode  or Talk Around: The capability to communicate unit-to-unit when out of range of a wireless network

 

OR when working in a confined area where direct unit-to-unit communications is required.

 

  • Push-to-Talk (PTT):  The standard form of public safety voice communications today.  The speaker pushes a button on the radio and immediately transmits the voice message to one or many other units.  When they are done talking they release the PTT switch and return to the listen mode of operation.
  • Group  Call:  This method of voice communications provides communications from one-to-many members of a group and is of vital importance to the public safety community.

 

There is much debate relative to whether broadband will eventually have the capabilities to replace current mission-critical public safety LMR systems, however the facts are clear that if this capability becomes reality it is not likely to happen in less than 10 years.

Local,  tribal, state,  and  federal public officials are  urged  to not  abandon or stop  funding their  public safety voice  LMR  systems until such  time  as  it can  be  demonstrated that  broadband can  safely and  adequately provide public safety with the mission critical requirements currently provided by LMR.

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPTSC) is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.

Voting Members

1. AASHTO ……….American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

2. ARRL ……………American Radio Relay League

3. AFWA …………..Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

4. APCO……………Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials – International

5. FCCA ……………Forestry Conservation Communications Association

6. IACP…………….International Association of Chiefs of Police

7. IAEM ……………International Association of Emergency Managers

8. IAFC …………….International Association of Fire Chiefs

9. IMSA ……………International Municipal Signal Association

10. NASCIO ………..National Association of State Chief Information Officers

11. NASEMSO ……..National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

12. NASF ……………National Association of State Foresters

13. NASTD………….National Association of State Technology Directors

14. NENA……………National Emergency Number Association

15. NSA……………..National Sheriffs’ Association

Associate Members (Non-Voting)

1. ATIS …………….Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions

2. CITIG …………..Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group

3. NCSWIC………..National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators

4. TIA………………Telecommunications Industry Association

5. UTC……………..Utilities Telecom Council

Liaison Organizations (Non-Voting)

1. FCC ……………..Federal Communications Commission

2. FEMA……………Federal Emergency Management Agency

3. FPIC …………….Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications

4. NTIA ……………National Telecommunications and Information Association

5. OEC……………..Office of Emergency Communications

6. OIC ……………..Office for Interoperability and Compatibility

7. PSCE ……………Public Safety Communication Europe

8. US DOI …………US Department of the Interior

9. US DOJ…………US Department of Justice

Resources:

NPSTC Mission Critical Voice Definitionhttp://www.pscr.gov/projects/broadband/reqs_stds/Functional_Description_MCV_v5.pdf

Voice over Broadband Articles:

Voice and Public Safety Broadband http://andrewseybold.com/3038-voice-over-public-safety-broadband

Mission-Critical Voice over LTE: What, When and How?

http://andrewseybold.com/2772-mission-critical-voice-over-lte-what-when-and-how

Mission-Critical Voice and LTE: Be Careful

http://andrewseybold.com/2772-mission-critical-voice-over-lte-what-when-and-how

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