February 2012 Inbox
February 10, 2012
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
I am pleased to read about Canada’s keeping up with technology and offering those with speech and hearing complications to be able to communicate via text with 9-1-1. If it can save even one life, it would definitely be worth it. Hopefully it can be put into place here in the United States soon, although, I admittedly don’t live in a highly populated area.
Todd E. Anderson
In response to “Inbox: Reader Feedback” from February (See letter below)
I appreciate Mr. Burch Falkner’s letter to the editor, which criticized an article that warned users on narrowbanding. Mr. Falkner properly asked for evidence of misleading comments or advice by folks in the industry.
I have been touring the country during the past five years giving narrowbanding seminars. During my presentations, I generally devote a section to narrowbanding myths. I've even included a section on such myths on our narrowbanding website. Each of the myths presented are statements made by folks in the industry, either salespeople or consulting engineers. Actually, in two cases, the FCC accidentally provided the misleading information themselves. I don't do these myths for purposes of embarrassing folks, but rather strictly to clarify misinformation. When I have time, I also show clippings of Internet articles with misinformation. I even bring the errors to the attention of manufacturer representatives when it involves their people.
The bottom line is that narrowbanding misinformation is rampant, although it’s getting better. I don't think that it’s necessary to publicly embarrass those who might have made honest mistakes on narrowbanding when they were misinformed themselves. So, don’t criticize the author for making the allegations. Unfortunately, it’s just the facts.
Alan S. Tilles, Esquire
Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker
While I appreciate the opportunity given by your publication to allow article submissions and comments, I feel compelled to address the recently published comments by another dealer. Rule No. 1 in communications is to never defend, never attack and always clarify. To publish generalized statements by dissident competitors contributes nothing to the benefit of those who are allegedly being misled by certain awful people who might be taking advantage of an uninformed public.
While I am not one of those awful people, I see no value in simply stomping the ground and telling everyone that they should come to you for guidance and assistance. I see nothing wrong with offering services, but the offer should be extended on the basis of merit, not emotion. What the writer offered was nothing more than assuming prospective buyers were incapable of making a decision. I beg to differ. The buyers with whom I deal on a face-to-face basis are very capable of analyzing the offerings of various equipment providers. While it may be true that a local equipment provider may have the edge over an Internet discounter, it is equally true that facts beat feelings every time!
To logically address the assumed problem of unscrupulous equipment providers misleading consumers, it seems to me that one should provide the information required to allow the prospective consumer to make an informed decision. That is why we have an extensive library of articles on the subject of narrowbanding that is freely offered to all who are interested. Perhaps the most useful is a link to the FCC website, which allows an existing user to check for themselves whether their equipment is narrowband capable.
Additional information is available at
Someone is charging way too much to reprogram!
$300 to program a single radio? How do you get that contract?
I agree it is a mess out there with coverage enhancement solutions. Some buildings have multiple bidirectional amplifiers (BDAs) from multiple agencies of the same unit of government. Many are misdesigned, and the licensee has no clue of where they are, a violation of FCC rules. More BDAs are never better. Just let one fail and watch what it does to the public-safety radio system.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a standard that is a start on this. Maybe it would be better to work within that framework than create another duplicative work. An interesting flaw in the NFPA standard is that I, as a registered professional engineer with 40 years of experience, can legally design all the high-voltage, low-voltage, IT and radio communications within a building but I cannot design an NFPA-compliant BDA system. Only an FCC-licensed technician can. I let mine go years ago. It is like requiring a medical doctor to have a current first aid card.
Leonard J. Koehnen, PE
Koehnen & Associations
I read your news brief and agree strongly that a strategic solution is required to address new fire code regulations for public-safety radio coverage. The “when-funded mandate” will certainly reduce the cost to the building owner if the wireless service provider (WSP) desires to install a system, however, the owner will probably still fund the public-safety component.
Because enforcement and public-safety radio systems are regional, local planning and funding are necessary. Typically the building owner is not radio literate and the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) may not be equipped/trained to perform plan reviews or to address radio coverage issues. The AHJ is also responsible to provide technical data and perform system acceptance. Without a regional plan with clear direction, control and monitoring, the building owners in each community will inevitably spend far more for enhancement systems.
Niemann technology recently launched an independent testing service to perform indoor coverage measurements. We are performing field trials in Elk Grove, Calif.
Your news brief is absolutely correct — it is about sharing responsibility, eliminating obstacles and aligning interests so that we can make our community safer. The DAS Coalition is a positive approach to meeting this goal.
Good coverage, and the initiative is appreciated. My comment relates to the requirement for certified technicians for public-safety distributed antenna systems (DAS) installations. Years back the FCC essentially destroyed the concept of certified technicians for radio systems other than ship-board, by eliminating the need for any qualifications to service radio systems.
The entire responsibility was put on the system owner to simply ensure that systems worked. The net result has been systems installed to meet spec, but then left to deteriorate from neglect over the years.
I agree with and enthusiastically endorse the concept of a national radio technician certification program, combined with a reinstatement of periodic system inspection by such a technician. Don't limit this to DAS systems. If the primary radio system is no longer performing up to original spec, then adding even the best DAS is simply putting a band-aid on the problem. And if the system installation and maintenance is important, then there needs to be a program to both recognize the truly competent technician and keep the marginal person away from this critical infrastructure.
A.V. (Lex) Rutter