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Whole Wide World of Possibility: Licensing of 700-MHz Spectrum Will Assist in Radio Interoperability and High-Speed Wideband Data Transmissions

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 29 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 66,68-69,70
Donna Rogers
Date Published
July 2002
4 pages
This article discusses radio interoperations and data transmissions that will become available with the licensing of 700-MHz spectrum.
Public safety operates in 10 different frequency bands. When communication is needed the most during disasters is when it is most likely to break down. Five channels for interoperability were set aside in planning the 800-Mhzband a few years ago. Today this is not enough. When the 700-MHz band becomes available, it will offer 32 channels to ease sorely crowded public safety bandwidth. However, standards need to be put into place and jurisdictions need to apply for licenses. The Public Safety National Coordination Committee (NCC) is using the Internet to discuss long-term solutions with public safety users. The main accomplishment is the adoption of a standard for both narrowband voice and data. The NCC approved the APCO Project 25 standard, which is now called TIA 102. The issue that still needs to be formulated is the wideband data standard, the aspect that sends bandwidth intensive data, such as still images and video, over radio frequencies. The NCC’s Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) will help draft a standard for operation of wideband channels. The committee is addressing how interoperability channels should be labeled; and the lack of standard language for naming channels, which has caused major confusion during events such as the recent wild fires in California. The committee has maintained that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should make consistent labeling mandatory. States have been issued their licenses for 2.4 MHz of spectrum to license as they wish. The only restriction is that they must show the FCC that the use offers substantial service to at least one-third of the population of the State. To apply for the remaining 21.6 MHz, local agencies must join their regional planning committees and apply directly to one of a number of entities offering frequency coordination services. The biggest problem with public safety getting up and running on the 700-MHz band is that UHF TV now occupies it.