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New Testing Report Proves Need for 20 MHz

New Testing Report of San Francisco Area Public Safety Broadband
Early Deployment Further Proves Need for 20 MHz

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PSA Points to Rash of Recent Studies to Urge Congress to Allocate D Block for Jobs, Deficit Reduction and Rural Build Out of 4G Broadband to Dramatically Boost Nation’s Economy and Safety

Alexandria, VA, September 21, 2011 – The Public Safety Alliance pointed to a new study, Project Cornerstone Network LTE Testing, released by the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority (EBRCSA) this week as further evidence that first responders need 20 MHz of contiguous spectrum to accomplish mission-critical broadband data capabilities leveraging the commercial industry’s current build out of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks nationwide. As has been previously stated, public safety has a “window of opportunity” in which to construct a dedicated, nationwide and interoperable public safety broadband data network to take full advantage of the commercial industry’s own current nationwide build out to gain cost efficiencies and economies of scale. As well, there are key public-private partnerships that public safety has great potential to pursue with critical infrastructure, other public entities, academic institutions and non-profits, particularly in rural and remote areas, where the commercial industry does not possess the business model to profitably build.

“The time is now for America to coalesce around an immediate-to-long-term comprehensive approach and solution to the decades’ old problem of public safety interoperability,” declared Chief Christopher Moore of the San Jose (CA) Police Department, “This study further points to allocation of additional spectrum, the D block, as a foundational piece of the puzzle. Once established, this nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network provides the national infrastructure to allow for the migration of disparate systems toward an eventual converged, mission-critical public safety network for data, voice, video and other information for the current and future safety and efficiency of our nation’s day-to-day and critical incident emergency communications.”

The report findings include:

“The voice channels on each of these portions of the spectrum allocated to public safety communications voice are not sufficient to provide communications for all of the agencies and, therefore, over the years, some agencies make use of one portion of the spectrum while other agencies are assigned channels on another portion of the spectrum. This has resulted in a lack of interoperability between agencies, even within the same jurisdiction. It is not unusual for the police department in a city to be on a different portion of the spectrum than the fire and EMS departments. The result of this is that when these agencies are working side-by-side on an incident they cannot directly communicate with each other.”

“In addition, since these channels (referring to spectrum utilized for public safety Land Mobile Radio systems) are suitable for voice communications only, the public safety community has little or no access to data services, pictures, or video. In order to partially solve some of these problems, some departments have entered into service agreements with commercial wireless operators for wireless phone, messaging, and broadband services. However, during major incidents these commercial networks are jammed with news media and citizens trying to contact their offices or loved ones. At the time this capability is needed most by the first responder community, it becomes unavailable due to commercial network overload.”

“While this debate continues, the FCC issued waivers to 21 jurisdictions allowing them to start building their portion of the network. The San Francisco Bay Area applied for and received one of the waivers. The East Bay Regional Communications System Authority in partnership with the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) developed Project Cornerstone as a proof of concept for the larger LTE network planned for the Bay Area. For the first time, we were able to conduct real-world testing of the first demonstration system of public safety broadband.”

“One of the reasons we urged the FCC to approve “waivers” to allow for certain applicant cities, states, counties and regions from across the country to begin to plan and deploy mission-critical public safety broadband systems as soon as possible was so that we could learn from their processes and experiences to better inform the eventual nationwide network,” said Chief Bill McCammon, former Fire Chief and Executive Director of the East Bay Regional Emergency Communications System in Dublin, California, “The ability to stress and test the first public safety broadband systems online provides us with invaluable data and information to learn from in better perfecting the nationwide network as it finally becomes a long overdue reality.”

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