Federal Communications Commission

Analysis of the Gaps: Public Safety

November 20th, 2009 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Jennifer Manner BB


 Earlier this week at the Commission meeting, the Broadband Task Force outlined key gaps that need to be addressed before the U.S. can enjoy universal broadband. There are gaps in the public safety and homeland security sector that I think are important and worth highlighting.  Specifically, we are still determining how best to ensure the creation of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.  Today, there is no such network that meets the requirements of the public safety community. 
More generally, there is a broadband connectivity gap for the public safety community, including the police, fire fighters, the emergency medical response community, and many 911 centers.  This gap limits the potential for development of broadband applications that would vastly enhance the ability of public safety personnel to protect lives and property.  For example, today most police and fire departments do not have access to broadband wireless communications for their first responders that would enable them to increase situational awareness when responding to an event.  The only broadband wireless services available today are those offered by commercial providers, which lack the coverage and resiliency that public safety requires.  
The Task Force presentation also highlighted that if broadband is going to further national priorities such as public safety, incentives that promote broadband deployment need to be aligned.  For example, in order to ensure that public safety agencies across the country will have access to a broadband network that meets their requirements, we need to identify existing and potential incentives that will support deployment of the network in rural and remote areas that commercial broadband networks are unlikely to reach.  These incentives can come in many forms, but are critical if this network is able to support emergency responders throughout the country.  Other incentives must be provided to ensure that public safety broadband networks are able to have the sorts of resiliency and redundancy that public safety requires in order to ensure operation during emergencies.


5 Responses to “Analysis of the Gaps: Public Safety”

  1. Terry Taylor says:

    The most glaring connectivity gap for public safety community is in the spectrum of human consciousness. I have tried to provide market education to members of FCC, Homeland, State Emergency Services, Tribal Nations, Public and Private communication service providers and suppliers about the opportunity of RAN Sharing through the use of software defined radio, cognitive radio and intelligent radio to serve the majority needs. This education effort

    There is a gap in the pure function of human communication, technological awareness (theoretical and practical aspects of communication tech) and interdisciplinary vocabulary. Each stakeholder is restricted by their area specific limitations. My attempts at collaboration have fallen into remedial discussions within each stakeholder group, rendering full stakeholder comprehension and collaboration out of reach.

    What is needed to fill this connectivity gap is a Human Communications Commission (HCC) to provide the FCC and the rest of the technology centric communication stakeholders a solid foundation. Interdisciplinary people and professions make possible human and technological interoperability.

  2. Guest says:

    The problem is that most of the people making the decisions have more then 5Mbps so they are not in any hurry. If you lower their speeds to what the areas outside of cities get the problem would get fixed. It really comes down to who will pay for the infrastructure. Copper will not work except for short distances. Wireless is fastest solution to get some broadband to the most people quickly. Fiber while the most expensive is the only solution for speed and distance in small towns and rural areas.

  3. Guest says:

    YOur spending to much money studing. The phone co already has maps of the areas they do not serve with DSL. And the cable cos have more maps. Just ask them for them.

    What you really need to do is force the phone co to serve all customers with DSL.
    In many places the phone co has no peoplems with the lines they just do not want to install the digital switch due to not enough customers.

  4. Steve says:

    It's important that you recognize that Law Enforcement, Fire and first responders need high speed mobile access that takes precedence over Johnny streaming music to his iPhone. The question is will the government mandate they be given the access, thus raising everyone's price to fund the infrastructure, and then government NOT give Law enforcement, firefighters and first responders money to IMPLEMENT the use of it? This has, sadly, been the case in school, agriculture, and other mandates - force it but don't fund it.

    Let's be on the cutting edge for once and find a way to fund this important and critical initiative from end to end so it can make a difference! The technology is the easy part, but end to end funding, now there is a challenge for you.

  5. Guest says:

    Regarding the connectivity gap it would be nice to see more specific definitions on broadband. What do I mean?

    We ran your test at our home that gets wireless broadband (aka cox's broadcast via wavelinx over the air). The results:
    Download test: 1481 kbps
    Upload test: 489 kbps
    Latency: 26 ms
    Jitter: 6 ms

    We ran your test from our office that is directly hooked into cox:
    Download Speed: 12310 kbps
    Upload Spead: 3433 kbps
    Latency: 43 ms
    Jitte: 43ms

    How can one possible group 1481 kbps in the same league as 12310 kbps? Wavelinx only delivers at best 3kbps but we rarely ever saw that.

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