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O N L I N E  E X C L U S I V E

June 2011 Inbox

June 16, 2011

Following are comments we’ve received from readers about recent online and print news and articles. If you’d like to comment on an article, email edit@RRMediaGroup.com.
 
 
 
Editor:
 
LightSquared sure has a lot of nerve. It is like General Motors building a 20-foot wide truck and asking that the lanes be made wider.
 
Bill Roselle
 
 
Editor:
 
LightSquared said issues remain with precision GPS devices, and it is committed to finding a solution. Would precision GPS devices be like cruise missiles and aircraft navigation?
 
D. Balsamo
Riverside County, Calif.
 
 
Editor:
 
Sorry, but LightSquared chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja’s approach doesn't pass the smell test from the millions of GPS products that did meet their specifications. It sounds like he believes he is IBM and can do it anyway he wants, whether the government, FCC or anyone tells him different.
 
It’s people like this, along with broadband over powerline (BPL) proponents, who like to ignore the physics and rules and to make a buck.
 
Ken Isom
 

 
 
Editor:
 
The carriers need to offer the 2.3 GHz spectrum to LightSquared.
 
Tom Meggitt
Technology Services
City of Denver
 

  
 
Editor:
 
In my opinion LightSquared should operate its spectrum without interference to any of the incumbents if it plans to stay where it is now. I fully support the goals of enhanced data services through Long Term Evolution (LTE), but not at the expense of existing technologies that many of us already rely on. A better move would be for LightSquared to move away from this piece of spectrum and into some part of the spectrum that is not critical to so many other industries.
 
Norman Alexander
Boulder, Colo.
 
 
Editor:
 
Do we really need another nationwide 4G data system? We've got Sprint Nextel, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless already up, running and growing now. Seems to me that this system is being developed only to justify additional spectrum from the FCC that would be otherwise unavailable, and to quickly build a minimal system that will be sold to one of the other big guys in a couple of years, reaping huge profits for the LightSquared developers in the process.
 
Rick Tannehill, P.E.
Glendale, Ariz.
   

 
 
Editor:
 
Accolades to Relm Wireless for tilting at windmills. Many of us feel the same way but have accepted the futility of the situation. When an admiral orders the removal of a new radio system off of a ship and replaces it with an extremely expensive Motorola system, what is the point?
 
Jim Hedgspeth
 
 
Editor:
 
David Storey, Relm president and CEO, is correct in his statements and position regarding proprietary features being introduced into Project 25 (P25) products, and the letter from the state of Colorado is correct too. I have personal knowledge of these same types of issues coming up with a couple of the 800 MHz P25 systems in use here in the metropolitan Atlanta area.
 
These types of actions by vendors must stop in the P25 world for P25 to be truly what it was meant to be and give us, the users, a real choice in the selection of a product that best meets our needs within our budgetary constraints. When it comes to P25, vendors need to rely strictly on the durability, performance and price of their products by letting these things speak strictly for themselves without adding in extra features or functions meant to sway an agency’s decision on what to choose. Adding in proprietary features or functions to P25 equipment only creates more headaches for first responders in the long run by making interoperability more difficult, thus endangering the lives of our first responders during critical situations.
 
The huge expenses involved to purchase and maintain P25 equipment and systems, along with not having a final decision on P25 Phase 2 standards and the ability of vendors to slip in proprietary features and functions in P25 equipment are making more agencies shy away from even considering P25 as a solution to their radio needs.
 
For these reasons, several public-safety agencies in Georgia have elected to go with technologies like MOTOTRBO and NEXEDGE instead of P25 with more agencies considering the same. I can truly understand the logic behind agencies taking this type of stance and or position in this matter and personally don’t blame them one bit. All of these things will lead to the death of P25 if all the vendors don’t hurry up and see the light.     
 
Bob Williams
 
 
Editor:
 
The recently published concerns over one manufacturer having majority control over the P25 marketplace are well founded.
 
However, the situation goes much deeper. As many states seek a statewide solution for their communications systems and most of these systems wind up going to a single large bidder, the existing communications support providers (small-/medium-sized radio shops) are then driven out of business if they are not aligned with the successful vendor of these large systems.
 
Because the cell phone has proven to be more cost effective for most commercial business operations, the remaining users of two-way radio tend to be public-safety agencies. The shrinking market place is then causing a collapse of available communications support into the folds of the major vendors that most likely will withdraw from an area if that vendor does not have the contract. As a state aligns itself with a particular communications vendor, the other vendors withdraw their personnel and other support functions because of a lack of business potential.
 
In the case of public-safety agencies, this withdrawal of available support further drives them into a noncompetitive situation where only the favored vendor has reliable close-in support available. All this is, of course, in addition to the purported revelations of proprietary features being given to a customer at no cost, which in turn lead directly to a sole-source procurement predicament for future communications acquisitions.
 
Many public agencies actually favor and embrace such a situation because they no longer have to go through the dreaded, time-consuming bidding process; just pick up the phone and make a call or send in the order to the controlling vendor.
 
In retrospect, the situation is not uncommon at all. During the course of my 49 years in the communications field, I have seen many attempts by a vendor to lock the customer into a sole-source system. The first attempt I can remember was the "noise blanker" offered by one major vendor, and called other names by other vendors, but was still an item that was hard to explain if your brand called it something else. The second was the continuous tone coded squelch system (CTCSS) where a major vendor had some reserved codes that no one else had, and it seemed that every system that I tried to sell into in those days were using these few codes. Some others were the digital coded squelch systems (more reserved codes and inverted/non-inverted codes on same channel that some vendors could not do), the two-tone paging codes (extremely low tones with CTCSS stripping at the transmitter that some vendors could not do), and others, all leading up to the latest "advanced data privacy" features that are purported to be given away with an equipment purchase.
 
My how the wheels of progress are turning. The more they turn, the more they stay the same.
 
Bob Groves
Bob's Mobile Radio
Starkville, Miss.
 

 
 
Editor:
 
This is a perfect example of why public safety should be given the D block. Imagine if this were to happen in the communications spectrum.
 
Frank J. Kiernan
Director of Emergency Communications
City of Meriden, Conn.
 

 
 
Editor:
 
Inferior, temporary, worthless … yeah, pretty much as most all of these stations are just broadcasting paid programming to sell trinkets (half-hour infomercials). What a waste of bandwidth.
 
This is not to denigrate low-power translators, which are a necessary part of our TV broadcast system.
 
Rick Tannehill, P.E.
Glendale, Ariz.
 
 
Editor:
 
I guess I don’t understand the need of a national system. What would a fireman in Ohio need to talk to a policeman in Texas about?
 
There are a number of large statewide systems that exist across the U.S. that are statewide or multistate coverage. And even those are divided up into smaller systems with interconnect. Granted, the radio programming for system to system roaming is a bear, but it works. And those that have it, for the most part, are not using that functionality unless they are on the edge of both systems and simple travel throughout their district requires them to roam from system to system. 
 
This interoperability mentality that people have taken since Sept. 11 has gone as far as it reasonably needs to. We are quickly approaching the level that we need to just pull the radios and issue cell phones to everyone and forget about anything that would be push-to-talk (PTT) communications.
 
I think we need to figure out who is driving this and to what end. There is a lot of money that will change hands in the process of bringing this idea to a working solution. Companies that will gain the most should really have the least amount of say in how or if this gets done at a level that is being discussed.
 
Keith Foor
  

 
Click here for the May 2011 Inbox.
Click here for the April 2011 Inbox.
Click here for the March 2011 Inbox.
 
 

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