Narrowbanding and Public Safety Communications

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1 Narrowbanding and Public Safety Communications Introduction and Overview Jay Sexton Georgia Tech Research Institute

2 Introductions

3 What equipment is used on every call by every public safety responder? Radio GTRI & GT Corporate Jan2011

4 Basic Radio 101 First: There are 5 Bands of the Radio Frequency Spectrum that are used by radios in GA. Radios for one cannot usually talk to radios for another. Which do you have?

5 Direct (Simplex) Direct (or Simplex or Talkaround) Everyone is on one frequency One radio transmits, the other radios receive Radio Radio

6 Repeated Repeaters Improve field unit to dispatch and off-scene units Uses two frequencies: one for transmit, one to receive Radio Repeater Radio

7 Conventional vs. Conventional Trunked Most common system type One channel (frequency or pair) per use (e.g. police, fire, etc.) Simple and inexpensive Spectrally inefficient Trunked Most common in large urban areas Channels are pooled and used in talkgroups Complex and expensive Spectrally efficient

8 What is Narrowbanding? Why is it important?

9 What is Narrowbanding? NOT rebanding! FCC mandate Affects VHF and UHF radio systems Most systems in Georgia Changes the way frequencies are used Equipment must be reconfigured or replaced Deadline: December 31, 2012

10 Wideband vs. Narrowband

11 Good Narrowbanding Impact Increase number of available frequencies System growth instead of replacement Bad May have to replace pre-1996 equipment All equipment must be reconfigured Unfunded mandate agencies bear costs Radio coverage will be reduced (up to 40%) DEADLINE: December 31, 2012

12 Coverage Loss Coverage loss (up to 40%) Most current systems only cover most (maybe 90-95%) of a county Post-narrowbanding coverage could be 60% of a county Depends on current coverage and topography Three main options to address coverage loss 12

13 Coverage Loss Three Options Live with the coverage loss Most economical May compromise public safety Install new antenna sites More costly May require relicensing Install new digital system

14 Digital Systems Pros Pros and Cons Increased coverage Additional features (e.g. geolocation, overthe-air programming, basic data, prioritization) Can protect you from future ultra - narrowbanding Cons More costly (probably) Hinders interoperability (no one universal standard)

15 Interoperability Problems During transition Narrowband Signal to a Wideband Radio Quiet or ignored audio Wideband Signal to a Narrowband Radio Loud and distorted audio Narrowband signals may be missed After transition Digital systems possibly not compatible with analog systems or each other

16 Agencies Effected Law enforcement Fire EMS Boards of Education (including school buses) Public Works / Utilities Departments of Transportation Others 16

17 Recommended Next Steps Talk about budgets early! Inventory current equipment Portables and mobiles Base stations and repeaters Radio caches Gateway radios Pagers Perform coverage tests GTRI & GT Corporate Jan2011

18 Recommended Next Steps (cont d) Talk with neighbors Shared channels (may require MOUs) Sharing a system (would require MOUs) Change FCC licenses Administrative change if narrowbanding only Other changes require coordination Plan ahead! GTRI & GT Corporate Jan2011

19 Narrowbanding Summary All VHF, UHF Radio Systems must narrowband by December 31, 2012 Planning and coordination are crucial ALL equipment must be reconfigured or replaced Coverage loss must be addressed NOTE: Systems must ultimately go to 6.25KHz bandwidth (no date set)

20 Narrowbanding Websites FCC Narrowbanding page - Briefs, Tech Topics, FAQs OEC/ICTAP Public Safety Technology Assistance Tools Narrowband Status, Frequency Mapping, CASM

21 Helpful Documents from Today Hard copy Narrowbanding Guide March 2011 Narrowbanding Guide Letter Template FCC Narrowbanding Update July 2011 Electronic copy How-to Funding Guide How-to Guide for Lifecycle Planning Narrowband License Status Tool Narrowbanding 101 Narrowbanding VCOMM FCC Instructions

22 Narrowbanding questions?

23 OTHER STATEWIDE RADIO EFFORTS

24 Georgia Interoperability Network (GIN) Statewide gateway system Connects mobile radio systems and dispatch centers from multiple agencies and jurisdictions Six-year project Funded by federal grants and state funds, with additional local investments Serving 159 counties, hundreds of cities, and some state agencies Provides interoperability with surrounding states Currently includes two mobile communications trailers

25 Importance of the GIN Georgia s first statewide interoperability project Local governments and state agencies driving system design Cooperation model serves as a model for larger initiatives

26 Communication Assets Survey and Mapping (CASM) CASM = Communication Assets Survey and Mapping Created by US Navy (SPAWAR) for DHS Online inventory of communications assets in a region or state Provides analysis of compatibility and interoperability

27 Locally Why CASM? Collect communications data in one place Create Tactical Comms Interoperability Plans (TICP) Help with strategic investment of funds Regionally Encourage and enable interoperability on a day-to-day and incident basis Encourage partnerships for new systems Statewide Help to direct communications funds

28 Training Web-based (efficient delivery) GIN Overview Video GIN Operators Course GIN Supervisors Course Other future classes (e.g. Radio 101) Classroom (advanced training) Communications Unit Leader (COML) Communications Unit Technician (COMT) Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT)

29 Helpful Websites Open to the public Repository of information Restricted access Information sharing, discussion, calendar, etc.

30 Questions?

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