EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — March 11, 2009

The Public Safety Spectrum Trust
Creating a Nationwide Wireless Broadband Network for Public Safety

Kevin McGinnis, MPS, EMT-P
Vice Chairman, Public Safety Spectrum Trust

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/PSST/McGinnis.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. Our topic today is the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corporation (PSST), whose mission is to provide an organizational structure to guide the construction and operation of an interoperable nationwide public safety-grade broadband network, in a portion of the spectrum becoming available due to the transition to digital television.

This week’s poll on our homepage is not directly related to the topic, since we could not resist a question related to the news that Florida’s Craig Fugate will be the nominee for FEMA Administrator. So our poll question is, "Are you in favor of Senate confirmation of Craig Fugate as FEMA Administrator? Yes or No." Please take time to participate by voting and review the results thus far.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest speaker: Kevin McGinnis serves as Vice Chair of the PSST. For the past eight years, Kevin has been a Program Advisor for the National Association of State EMS Officials.

Kevin also serves as communications technology advisor for that association, and for the National Association of EMTs, the National Association of EMS Physicians, and the National Association of EMS Educators.

He is widely published in and a national speaker on the areas of public safety/EMS communications, rural EMS, and air medical systems. He continues his EMT/paramedic practice of 34 years. Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical information.

Welcome Kevin, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


[Slide 1]

Kevin McGinnis: Thank you, Amy. Welcome, everybody. It’s my pleasure to be here and fill you in a bit about the Public Safety Spectrum Trust and the National Public Safety Broadband Network that has been a subject of development for a number of years now. I’m going to go through at a fairly high level to give you an idea of where this all came from, our most recent history in the last two years, where our absolutely most fervent work has taken us, where we are today and where we may be heading in the near future, and the ups and downs along the way.

I’m also going to finish with just an example for those of you who may be field providers or basically push-to-talk kinds of folks that I was many years ago, an idea of how at least this will effect my area, the Emergency Medical Services field, and a brief of description of what it will enable us to do what we can’t do today.

[Slide 2]

Just to begin, a bit of the history. About 13 years ago, or actually more between 15 and 20 years go, the concept of us running out of bandwidth in Public Safety Communications was an issue of the day. In the mid-nineties, a group was formed to convince the FCC and NTIA, a group called PSWAC (the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee) set about to study what our demands for communication frequencies would be in public safety up to the year 2010, which seemed like forever far away at that point.

At that point too, I will remind you, we weren’t really talking about anything but voice communications—not broadband, not data communications. It was in that context that in 1996 PSWAC reported that we needed somewhere in the neighborhood of 98 MHz of new spectrum by 2010, including 25 MHz by 2001.

Ironically, that recommendation was made on September 11, 1996. It was on September 11, 2001 that we should have had the extra 25 MHz by, and we did not. Whether we had that or not, how it would have effected the 9/11 response and communications interoperability for all of those activities, we can only speculate. But it is kind of ironic that that is the case.

[Slide 3]

In 1997, Congress allocated 24 MHz of spectrum in what is known as the upper-700 band. From television channels 60-69, which Amy indicated, was created by an overall scheme to transition from analog television to digital television. We are all now pretty familiar with that with all the programming news events about that transition and more recently the way in the deadline date of February to June of that transition. After that declaration by Congress, or law passed by Congress, the FCC specifically designated 4 channels be used for the 24 MHz for public safety—63, 64, 68 and 69.

[Slide 4]

We didn’t really have a date specific at that time as to when the transition would happen, that would be available to public safety, although in the past few years space in those areas has been available where it did not pose a conflict to existing analog television. In 2006 the President finally signed into a law an order saying "look, we’re going to make the decision. We’re going to transition as of February 17, 2009." And you know probably from more recent events that it is now June 12, 2009.

[Slide 5]

In 2007, following that date-certain transition, the FCC began planning and the Public Safety communications community started planning for how that would happen. The FCC announced the Proposed Rulemaking in which it specified how it would take all of those channels 60-69 and dispose of them once analog was off. It was a very complex process that was proposed. Much of that space, the bandwidth, was proposed to be auctioned off for money, which is a very common way the FCC acts when it moves uses of bandwidth from one area to another.

But in that, and specifically in the public safety spectrum of that overall upper-700 area, they proposed that there be one named licensee and one communications network of public safety and the bandwidth would be divided up between, at that time, the wide band and the narrow band.

This was unique because to date, all licensing that the FCC does is local. What the FCC realized at that time was, after being dictated to and basically pounded with it over the past 6 years, that one of the problems we had in 9/11 was not only operability issues, but interoperability issues. A lot of that was created by the fact that the FCC had locally licensed usage in its history. There was a tremendous lack of compatibility between regions and between disciplines of public safety.

[Slide 6]

The Proposed Rulemaking resulted in the Second Report & Order later in 2007, which created a proposed public/private partnership to build a network. It turns out it’s a switch to become a broadband network, utilizing space in the four channels I talked about plus channels 62 and 67 which are obviously adjacent. What it would provide for public safety is the access to 10 MHz of space of its own, which it would be licensed to, and 10 MHz of space on a commercial spectrum to be run or owned by a private operator.

It would issue for the 10 MHz of public safety space one license, to somebody known as the Public Safety Broadband Licensee. It would require those two, the Public Safety Representative and the Commercial or Private Representative, or owner of the space, to get together and create a sharing agreement in which the private party would build out the network. They would build it out to public safety specifications (I’ll talk more about that in a second) and they would agree on usage.

[Slide 7]

The Band Plan, and I’m not going to get into great detail about this, but basically I’ve got a pointer here. This is just to lay out the map, don’t pay attention to the upper box, but in the lower box, the public safety broadband space is there, and there. One is base and one is mobile, 10 MHz total. Adjacent to that would be the private operated space, the so-called D block, there and there, and that gives a total of 10 MHz space on each side.

The other part of the public safety space, which is essentially all of this here, included in the total 24, you’ve got the 5 broadband, you’ve got 6 of narrowband for voice, you’ve got guard band between, and on the other side is the other 12, which is 6 and 5 and then one guard band frequency. There are 24 total, which is the 24 we talked about originally, and then the D block has 10 to add to that.

Originally the proposal was, as laid out by a fellow named Morgan O’Brien, who works for a company called Cyren Call, he proposed early on that there actually be 30 MHz set aside for a public safety private/public partnership. That didn’t fly so we reverted to the 24 the public safety owned, part of which would be narrowband, and part of which would be broadband.

[Slide 8]

That’s what we have today, and this is another picture of that, which may be easier to see. That’s the public safety broadband, the D block, which is broadband, public safety narrowband, guard channel and then the same thing in the mobile area.

The idea is to put together for the public safety the single broadband network—this 5 and that 5, and this 5 and that 5. The intention is that when the level of emergency activity going on is such that there’s not much activity in public safety that the D block operator can use and sell space on all of that spectrum, there and there.

When there is an emergency that causes us to start utilizing our portion of the spectrum, we have the right to preempt usage not only to use all of our space, but to anybody that they have sold space to on our portion, but plus, we also have the ability to move into their portion depending on the size of the emergency. How we do that would be effected by that National Network Sharing Agreement. So that was the proposal.

[Slide 9]

What that would require would be commercial investment on the private parties’ sides to build out the infrastructure. Because it would be done nationally, there would be tremendous cost efficiencies. We would be required to use "off-the-shelf" technologies, as adapted for public safety. It would be a nationwide broadband network. It could be used on a local basis but it would have access to these pipes nationally as needed. As I said that would be access on our part to an additional 10 MHz done by eating into private partner segments and we would have priority access for public safety.

[Slide 10]

We would also expect that the private partner, when they did the build-out, would build-out a quality system. In this regard, this would be a big advantage for us because we know that governmental build-outs of any system tend to be jeopardized by the availability of public funding, tax funding, and bureaucratic decision making as well as political issues. In this sense, this would be a step up because this would essentially be state of the art at all times, equipment established and upgraded.

We would also require hardening of all transmission facilities, that there be backup power sufficient to maintain operations that would exceed commercial standards at this point.

[Slide 11]

Again, a concept that I have mentioned before; we would have sufficient capability to meet public safety for all types of broadband uses—from text messaging to data transmission, photo transmission, and a variety of others—I’ll give you an example of a few of those in EMS in awhile. We would have an arrangement so that whenever ‘we’ decided (that’s the public safety community) we would have rules for doing this and it would be controlled on a national basis but facilitated locally. We would have priority access with what is called "ruthless pre-emption", that is, if you’re on your cell phone on the band the D block provided you, you might not be on your cell phone if there was a big enough emergency.

We would have operational requirements for blending the system into existing public safety communication systems so that there would not have to be full-scale re-buys of equipment. We would have the ability through the PSBL representative of the public safety community would approve all the network devices—which just means radios, PDAs, computers, etcetera that would go on that network.

[Slide 12]

We would make sure that there is state of the art security and encryption. We would have a requirement that at least one device, and right now we have been pushing a radio, hand-held device, and PDA, and a laptop device, that each of those three would have to be made available with satellite capabilities as well.

Finally, again, we want to be able for the system to operate seamlessly locally with voice, video, and data capabilities. Then, perhaps as an incident might ramp up, where resources might need to be transferred from one part of the country to the other, to be able to seamlessly operate across agencies, jurisdiction and geography.

[Slide 13]

The intention was that this would obviously build out, and we planned for it to build out over a space of ten years. In the diagram you have, we would expect to have terrestrial coverage in all the green areas, basically a population area where the population is greater than 3,000, the population is greater than 5 per square mile or anywhere near an interstate. In the white areas there would be a satellite capability that would be built into the system.

[Slide 14]

As you can see by June, we’ve gone now through suddenly the order from the President in 2006 that people are going to get off; that analog users are getting off those television stations by 2009. Things ramped up incredibly fast in 2007. We went from Proposed Rulemaking in early 2007 to the Report and Order by the FCC saying how it was going to be. The Public Safety Spectrum Trust became created in D.C. as a group of public safety associations interested in becoming the PSBL for this network. It was specifically developed simply for that. That is the only mission of the PSST.

By November, the FCC granted a license to the PSST and it was not contested by anybody.

[Slide 15]

PSST consists of 15 associations. As you can see, they are across the spectrum of public safety—police, fire, EMS, Emergency Management. They also include public safety communications. They include hospitals and other government and other interests in the public safety broadband network. Some of these were created originally as the PSST and some of these were designated by the Rulemaking by the FCC which caused us to do a little more shuffling at the board level. This is how it has panned out.

[Slide 16]

Then by January of 2008, the auction for all of that coverage in the upper 700 MHz block began. That’s for everything. That was for abandoned television stations, that were with public safety and those that were not. By the time that auction was completed the FCC had picked up 20 billion dollars with the majority of the bandwidth that had been purchased, purchased by AT&T and Verizon for commercial use.

The D block as a potential partner had a minimum bid price of 1.3 billion dollars. There was only one bidder and that bidder bid in the neighborhood of 470 million dollars which was insufficient. So the auction, in essence, failed. Now the original FCC Report & Order said we could go and have another auction and try again. We’ll keep it at the higher level at this point and not get into the politics involved; and believe me there was a ton of politics involved, as only Washington, D.C. and money can play out.

It was decided there wouldn’t be an immediate additional auction. The FCC instead would go back out to all the parties that had participated to date and ask for guidance on how to proceed. They did that through early 2008 and came out with the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule-making in mid-2008. It basically said, "Look, we’re committed to this public/private partnership. We think it’s a really good idea. We think it’s the best way to do this because Congress is probably not going to fund a public safety broadband network nationally. We’re going to continue to push this concept."

In Congress, we have gone through a couple of hearings at that point for a number of reasons, and those that we spoke with, the leadership in Congress also seem committed to this approach. There have been some suggestions that Congress and the Executive branch pony up the money to run the Public Safety Broadband Network, but when you’re talking about anywhere, estimates vary widely, in the neighborhood of 16 billion, 40 billion, 60 billion, 80 billion, to set it up and then to run it, there were not any real interested takers.

The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule-making came out. There was an approach that would allow for not just one D block operator but that the D block be broken up and operators, regional communications entities, like regional cellular operators, could bid on any one of 58 public safety regions. It was expected that that approach, that the PSST didn’t support—we really wanted to see one D block partner working with the PSST because of, for simplicity as well as interoperability’s sake —we said that the one bidder may not happen so the regional approach would be okay.

The regional approach, which is very complicated, I’m not going to go into that right now, but it would be allowed. The minimum price was reduced. It was possible to get to the end of this process and have regions be sold for a buck. So that was put on the table.

There were comments gathered, comments gathered and published, and an opportunity to comment on the comments, and then we expected that the FCC would come out with a proposed Report and Order. This was getting to be September-October. We were by our election and at that point FCC had not gotten a Report and Order out. By the time it became the key time, just before the election, for that to be scheduled to be circulated within the FCC and then scheduled for an FCC meeting, the time passed.

That is where it leaves us today. We are sitting basically in limbo, waiting for the transition of a new administration. They just named a new FCC administrator and we hope they are going to take this issue up as a high-priority following behind the digital TV transition, but right now it’s not going anywhere. The PSST continues to work with the folks at FCC and in Congress to continue to move the concept of the private/public partnership along. We plan to continue to do that. Also, we have put in proposals for use of stimulus funding and we’re working hard on that end of things as well.

As I said before, the deadline for the TV transition has changed to June, so we’re in part waiting for that as well. Our most recent piece of news is that the group that we had, as the PSST, hired to be our advisor, the Cyren Call, Morgan O’Brien’s company, has served us extremely well through this incredibly fast process. We are a bunch of volunteers sitting on the PSST. We had no budget. Cyren Call loaned us some money so we could operate. We had no real expertise in communications of this magnitude, that is, a nationwide cellular type of communication system. Morgan O’Brien and his crew who have headed up national cellular companies provided that. We were very, very well-prepared throughout all of this.

Unfortunately, because of the place we are today, we have no more information about having any ability to generate money to operate on. Last week, we parted ways very amicably. One of these days we hope to work together again in some capacity, but the PSST is now essentially on its own.

[Slide 17]

Just a quick word on ‘why’. Why does having a public safety broadband network matter? I can give you my best shot from the EMS perspective. That simply is, EMS has come a long way in the 30 years that it has existed as the modern entity as we know it. We can bring incredible capabilities to the scene of an accident.

[Slide 18]

But one thing that we haven’t done is change or improve our communication system. The VHF and UHF capabilities that we had back when those folks were operating on "Emergency" on TV are still what we’re using today.

[Slide 19]

They’re narrowband voice communication capabilities. There’s layered on use of cellular telephones and 700-800 systems, but it’s still narrowband voice communications.

[Slide 20]

What we lack, and it’s because we’re using voice communications, is the ability to take advantage of technology that’s available to us today; technology that would allow us to transmit very complicated, complex patient information using high-tech devices, and other information; things like automated crash notification off of automobiles—things that would allow the team responding to an emergency to have situational awareness, that is to know everything they need to know about the events and resources at hand that are going to impact them or be available to them on that emergency call. And to have a common operating picture, that is everybody who is responding or working on that call, whether it’s the dispatcher, the medic, the helicopter, the doctor in the hospital, all have the same idea, the same picture of what’s going on at that call.

Today voice communications are just not providing either of those for us. In fact, they act as a bottleneck. If you can imagine you have a paramedic who has just arrived on the scene of a car crash with a lot of people shouting for their attention, and a lot of people bleeding and a lot of people needing sorting out, and life-saving to be done. And that medic, needing information from the hospital, called the hospital where the doctor that they need is also dealing with people in need at that moment. You get a bottleneck because people are not available to one another to share that incredibly complex patient information and make decisions about it.

[Slide 21]

What we expect to do in the future of EMS communications, is to continue to use voice communications for sure, but go from a 98% voice situation to maybe a 50/50 voice/data situation, in which we can take a lot of the complex data that we have, and when we’re ready to push them out into the atmosphere, what we’ll do is push them out to databases where they will sit. When the doctor in the hospital is done with the last patient or their process can be broken into, they can then come out and reach out and grab that information, look at it and make a decision and then push out the information and send it to me when I’m ready to ready to look at it I can reach out and grab that information and consume it and proceed. It’s just pushing out data, parking it somewhere in the database, and having someone else go out and pull it in.

[Slide 22]

Here’s a for instance. Today when we get on the scene with a couple of patients and we run out and we do everything we do based on databases which are our brain, maybe our rubber latex glove that we try to write stuff on so it rips. It’s sort of hard at times to sort information, although we do a pretty good job. Information can get garbled, both in our heads and on our rubber glove and in the process of transmitting it to perhaps a third party dispatcher to the hospital. It’s not the best way to go about it.

Better yet would be to be able to hop out of the ambulance, speak into a throat mike if I’m approaching the patient and dictate what I’m seeing, my notes, my findings about that patient, in the first minute. At the same time I’d put a little cigarette pack shaped thing on their chest and now I have patient vital signs being collected. As I talk into that microphone, my voice is translated into text, it’s being sent out into a computer in the ambulance and perhaps my PDA where it sits as a text file. The data coming off the thermometer goes into yet another file, the vital signs monitor file, the EKG file, and sits there and is constantly being updated because it’s constantly operating.

Plus I may have a video unit on my hat or on my throat mic or outside the ambulance that collects video and sends it to yet another parking spot in the ambulance.

[Slide 23]

In a mass casualty environment, there’s another capability where you could monitor 20 patients at once on my PDA and know or have instant updates on the critical ones, the less critical ones, and the least critical ones. At any given time we could click on one patient and then have a screen that would give us the information from that one patient, or even one vital sign from that one patient. We could quickly go back and look at all the patients again. That exists today.

[Slide 24]

At the hospital, the doctor on their screen could have all the text information that I put into my text file, all the vital signs information, know everything going on about the patient, take a look at some video, and all without having talked by voice to me at all. They can do it when they’re ready for it, not when I’m ready to give it to them.

[Slide 25]

So that’s how we could be looking at improving our care of patients, doing things a lot faster and more effectively in the future. However, our current communications just won’t cut it. Our current narrowband voice communications are slower than, if you remember, early dial-up Internet. The transmission for the vital sign transmitter I showed you requires 8 times the bandwidth than we have available to us today. If we had 20 people being monitored at the same time, that’s 20 times 8. If we want basic video, we’re talking 30 to 70 times what’s available today. In the future, we may be doing portable ultrasound and portable CT’s in ambulances, that has something tremendous to offer us in patient care decision making in the field, but we’re not going to have the bandwidth. And it’s going to get narrower by 2013, as a matter of fact.

[Slide 26]

What about some other options? Commercial wireless, while it does offer broadband options these days, is not an option for us because of the reliability factor. If anybody has a Blackberry, over the last couple of years knows about that. Anybody who uses air cards knows how they speed up and slow down. If it’s in the middle of your heart attack, I don’t think you want to see the system suddenly slowing down. The doctor can’t get it.

[Slide 27]

Basically what we’re talking about is a trade off between the rate from the slow 9.6, which is what voice narrowband is today -- to much higher rates of speed which gives you the ability to send photo and video and lots of other stuff, like we can do in our houses with 802.11 technology, but only for very short distance. Today’s public radio system, 225 system, which has tremendous distance, but has very slow rates, the 9.6 as I mentioned.

The solution seems to be to us that we only have two real options right now. That is a 4.9 GHz system which is licensed for public safety. Unfortunately it’s really a hot spot system, really compatible for urban use because it’s very short distance transmission system. You have to have a lot of nodes or antennae in the area to do this. Or, 700 MHz, which gives you a moderate distance transmission capability, plus some pretty darn good speed. That is why we really need a 700 MHz system.

[Slide 28]

With that, I will conclude my remarks with my contact information and ask for any questions.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Kevin. That was an excellent overview. I’m not much of a communications person but I understood everything you were saying. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Isabel McCurdy: Kevin, today even during your presentation some portions are choppy. Has the issue of being dropped or broken communication been looked at? Does this system improve the clarity of communication?

Kevin McGinnis: I would say absolutely. The issue with my telecommunications clarity today is probably my speakerphone and I apologize for that. There would be within the system a requirement for a certain percentage of the transmission capabilities in any locale or region to be hardened and to have public safety level communications reliability. That means you don’t get the drop, you don’t get the interruptions. To the degree that you are running VHF or UHF or 800 in your locale you don’t get those either.

We can’t demand that the whole system be that way, but there would be at least a minimum percentage requirement on hardening of facilities and reliability of transmission, including the engineering studies that would go along with that, to be assured that when we had an emergency where we actually started to use a significant portion of the broadband network, at least some of those towers would be transmitting strongly. Whereas, today there is no requirement at all. So, yes, it would be improved.

Bruce Barton: What is the projected capacity of the system in megabytes?

Kevin McGinnis: I’m not a communications techie, so I have to admit that up front. What I can tell you is in some of the studies we have done in one locale, and that’s outside of Washington, D.C., we were able to project the ability to carry in a large emergency, that is an emergency or a mass casualty involving hundreds of people, all of the EMS, police, fire, video, medical transmissions and related communications, without even coming into the D block space. That’s one definition of what you’re talking about.

In terms of speed, I can only say that in the current generation we’re talking in the neighborhood of a megabyte to three or four megabytes initially. The uploading and downloading are obviously different, but I can’t really tell you a whole lot more than that. It’s a lot and it’s a lot more than we have now, and it supports multiple users with high-quality video, for instance, on the same system.

Paul Hogue: You mentioned the hardening of towers. Is there a recommended agency or standard for hardening of towers (engineering groups)?

Kevin McGinnis: Yes, there are standards for that, but I’m not the one to quote you the verse on that.

Michael Walker: Might the Rural Broadband Monies from USDA (RUS) & Commerce (NTIA) be "in play", and if so, how do you see that playing out?

Kevin McGinnis: There have been a number of proposals about trying to reshuffle universal service funds and other money out there to contribute to efforts like this, but also just a general build-out of rural cellular. I think that there is tremendous potential in the stimulus package for combining the build-out of rural cellular with a piggyback of this system. Exactly how that would work out, I couldn’t tell you. But they certainly could be used to get the PSST, the National Broadband Network movement going ahead again.

As I said before, the PSST is the entity that now has the experience as well as the license, but we’re dead in the water because nobody is funding us at all. We would certainly love to see some funding come our way to do what the FCC required us to do and we’re the representative entity of public safety to get this going. We are certainly working on getting the NTIA opportunity to grab a hold of some of that funding.

Murphy Palmer: Has PSST identified any potential commercial partners for network deployment and is there a specific time frame for deployment as a condition of the license?

Kevin McGinnis: Yes we have. Part of the work we’ve been doing over the last year, and particularly over the last several months since the failed auction has been to work (and we’ve been doing this with Cyren Call) to identify potential partners. We’ve talked to probably a dozen or two dozen potential partners, both regional level partners and national level partners to try to encourage them either by themselves or as a consortium to get involved in the auction. We can’t discuss who those guys are, but the interest post-auction, particularly with the regional opportunities, has been tremendous compared with the pre-auction, the last auction interest.

The build-out initially intended to go from 2009 to 2019. The FCC intended that our license would be commensurate with that. The proposal now is that build-out is extended to 15 years. The percentage of terrestrial coverage be moderated over that build-out, but we are now dead in the water because the FCC hasn’t come out with a Report and Order responding to all of that input.

Amy Sebring: Let’s assume the network was built out, even if it’s in a particular region, would the public safety agencies then have to subscribe? Would there be a cost to the public agencies for using this?

Kevin McGinnis: Great question. Yes, under the current scheme the agencies would subscribe to it as though they were trying to buy cellular coverage, i.e. put cell phones in their ambulances or fire trucks or whatever, except that the units that they would be getting, would be fit to their use, would be hardened, would be combination voice and data units, would be cheaper than any commercial coverage they could get, but there would be a cost to commit. We have no idea what that cost would be, except that it would be less than commercial cellular coverage that’s available today.

Amy Sebring: And that process would be managed by the PSST or the commercial partner?

Kevin McGinnis: That’s part of the unknown. We had initially wanted to manage the relationship with all our public safety users because we thought we could represent them best. But that involves us managing the relationship, us managing the subscriber fees and that became a contentious issue with the FCC. Not with the potential D block partners, but with the FCC. The proposal today is that the PSST in the end would not have that responsibility. Those relationships would be through the D block partner but we would be the ones approving fee levels and usage requirements.

David Aylward: Kevin: Greetings! Most of the applications needed to manage a safety wireless broadband network are also needed to manage a safety wired broadband network (access control, identity management, priority among users, registry of participants, etc), and you need a robust wired backbone to support this or any wireless broadband network. As you know, we need a broadband network connecting organizations together so they can share information over the wireless network. Why aren't these issues being addressed together?

Kevin McGinnis: Hi, David. Good to hear from you again. Again, at my lower level of communications technology expertise I would answer, without being flip, that there’s an assumption that these are mixed systems, that you have wired broadband going between towers and hard sites and between tac systems and some cases managed wirelessly. I absolutely agree with you that the requirement is for both, but the intention here, the focus is clearly on the last mile to the public safety user in the field and we tend to focus on it as being wireless because that is the application and current voice communications are fairly well understood. It is easy to explain the system that way. But yes, there are tremendous wired components to this.

Dan Camp: A lot of what you mentioned today, sounds like P25. Dr. Daniel Devasirvatham (P25 Chief Technologist) gave us a "highly compressed overview of P25" his document stated the 700 MHz is still inadequate to put everyone on it. Does PSST see this being an issue? If so, Does PSST have a solution to put everyone on it.

Kevin McGinnis: The focus of the PSST is on broadband data communication. The P25 development has gone in an appropriate way and had good standards development to date. There is a whole different area of standards development for data communications that are going on now. And those are what is going to guide data transmissions in the broadband segment governed by the PSST. It’s really, as I see it, two different issues.

As far as whether everybody can get on to broadband network, we don’t expect everybody to be on the broadband network all of the time. Remember, we’re not giving up voice communications for broadband data transmission. We certainly hope that a majority of users around the country would be utilizing the 700 network for their data communications needs and we have been shown models that say we have plenty of space for that. I’m not quite sure where that comes from.

Randy Anderson: Regarding hardware for handheld unit, is the intent to have a PDA type device that operates solely on 700MHz, or a dual band device that also operates on one of the commercial carrier bands, i.e., 850MHz or 1900MHz, allowing for private phone calls to other parties? Am assuming intent is to move from LMR type devices.

Kevin McGinnis: Definitely a good question. The minimum that we intend to have specified in those devices is that they operate on the 700MHz and satellite capabilities, at least three devices: PDA communicative type device, a laptop and more conventional radio-type devices. Now that’s the minimum. With the new Talus multi-band radio that has just come out in the last year, which can go across bands easily, who knows what limits the sky will hold! Nothing is going to limit the D block provider from providing all types of devices.

I would imagine that if somebody wants that application to be able to talk commercial cellular and 700 and perhaps VHF, UHF, or the other more traditional 700, 800, that those devices would be available. What the PSST will have to say about those devices is simply they have to be acceptable for use on broadband network. We establish what the minimum will be on the device, we get to approve the devices as they come out for use on our system. But I have to imagine that if the buyers want them, the multiband units will be out there.

Joe Hanna: Kevin: Regarding cost to public safety users, can you explain why/how costs will be lower than commercial services when network requirements (nationwide coverage, data speed, and new feature sets, priority access, ruthless preemption, etc) are more extensive?

Kevin McGinnis: Sure. Defraying of the cost by the commercial users on the D block owners’ side. Others would pay more so we pay less. Actually, others may not pay more because of the use of this frequency and all additional frequencies that have now come about through the auction which may actually drive user costs down. Other commercial users may pay more, more than we are, but in effect they are keeping the cost down for public safety users. Beyond that, the details of how this would play out would be settled under the Network Sharing Agreement which obviously hasn’t happened yet.

Mike Morrill: You've basically talked about uses by first responders. Would this system also be adaptable for such uses as submitting Preliminary Damage Assessments, or communications between mass care shelters?

Kevin McGinnis: That’s a really good question. Right now, it would revolve around who was sending the data and who was receiving the data. There is a debate going on between the PSST and public safety and the FCC on who should be allowed to use this as a public safety user. The FCC is saying police, fire, EMS, period. We’re saying there has to be some critical infrastructure user, such as transportation, Emergency Management, and others. In fact, Emergency Management actually would be allowed under there so I’m not sure that’s an issue. Our problem is the division between the public safety users are and "critical infrastructure user". Public works, potential DOTs, hospitals for non-EMS uses, and the like—it’s really going to pan out as to where that definition line falls in the end, as to who can send and who can receive.

It’s going to be possible for anybody to buy into the system and use the system as a commercial user, but we don’t know exactly what those rules are either. But obviously we want to see police, fire EMS, emergency DOT, and Emergency Management and even in a bunch of cases, emergency health services and others thought of as infrastructure today, having access as public safety provider services.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Kevin for an excellent job. We wish you success in your future efforts with the PSST, a very challenging job indeed.

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