Monday, July 26, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
We must be the world’s worst communicators! For YEARS, we have been sharing the concept of the need for working together, in particular, in the area of public safety radio.
Many people, much smarter than we, have stressed the need for standards based technology, such as the Project 25 digital communications platform. From the Department of Homeland Security, through FEMA, down to the Regional and State level, the message is loud and clear.
The message is that all public safety agencies must be able to communicate and cooperate with each other using a common technical standard. The federal agencies have even put a condition on federal funding, such as the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) programs, that stipulates an eligibility requirement for P25 standards based communications equipment.
Anyone who reads grant guidance documentation, State Interoperability plans, or even the public media should be aware of the need for standardization, but there are still sales representatives out there who are glibly encouraging public safety users to ignore both federal and state standards in the hope of making a sale for non-standard equipment.
Just today, we were handed a copy of a newsletter developed by the communications committee of a county fire association advising all users to purchase only DMR (MotoTRBO) digital radios. The reason being for compatibility with the equipment specified in a pending AFG grant which has no chance for approval based on current guidance. Those who follow this misguided advice will be purchasing radios that are totally incompatible with both federal and state standards. How do we get through to people like this? We’ve tried everything. We’re going to try again…
We would like to start by directing those who are interested in facts and not fiction by spending a little time on a Webinar. Maybe if they hear it live from such folks as the Director of the Office of Emergency Communications for the Department of Homeland Security, it might finally sink in. Click here to sign up to review the Webinar.
If you prefer your information in printed form, we invite you to visit www.info4u.us/Interoperability_Facts.pdf. As plainly as it can be said, MotoTRBO digital technology is NOT approved for federal funding through the Department of Homeland Security, nor by FEMA, nor by AFG. Any grant application that does not specifically define P25 as the digital operating standard will be rejected. This is not my opinion. It is PUBLISHED policy.
As far as the "presentations" by those promoting MotoTRBO as a public safety "standard" is concerned, I invite you to review our comments at http://falconinfo.blogspot.com/2009/05/mototrbo-for-public-safety.html where you will clearly see that Motorola has never stated that this product is to be used in mission critical situations.
The most popular products specifically designed by Motorola for mission critical applications are the XTS2500 and XTS5000 series radios, both of which use P25 technology. Unfortunately, these products have been delisted for fire service use (See http://falconinfo.blogspot.com/2010/07/motorola-xts25005000-series-radios-no.html for additional information.
What concerns us the most is when a newsletter is distributed that is clearly misleading when the author encourages public safety communications users to order only radios with digital capability and it is then stated that such radios should be MotoTRBO capable.
This is encouraging users to purchase radios that do not qualify for federal grant funding, are not designed for mission critical use, and are not compatible with the national public safety interoperable standard.
The fact is that any radio purchased by public safety users should have either (a) the ability to be upgraded to P25 or (b) incorporate full P25 analog/digital capability initially. The fact is that such radios can be purchased for LESS than the budgetary estimates contained in the aforementioned newsletter recommendation.
As to the issue of establishing a system based on a proprietary standard rather than considering open architecture is a subject for a separate discussion. As relating to the feasibility of a FEMA grant application for MotoTRBO being approved, I leave that decision to those who review the applications following published guidance.
If you are a public safety user, PLEASE get all the facts from multiple vendors and then make an INFORMED decision based on FACT, rather than sales hype. You’ll be glad you did. If you wish, you can start with US!
If you would like more information on P25, please check out our free on-line planner at www.info4u.us/P25Guide.pdf.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Many of our fire department readers are familiar with the National Interagency Incident Communications Division (NIICD). NIICD is a partnership between the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior's agencies located at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho. See http://www.nifc.gov for more information. NIICD's mission is to provide portable emergency communications with a major focus on wildland fire suppression, and other man-made and natural disasters where federal assistance is required.
NIICD is responsible for evaluation and approval of all radios used by the US Forest Service and is the benchmark for defining quality and performance standards for portable radios used in firefighting activities. Beginning in 2010, only radios from BK/Relm, Datron, EF Johnson, Midland, and Thales Communications are approved for firefighting activities. The Motorola P25 XTS2500 and XTS5000, although approved for use in 2009, were been removed from the approved list as fire non-compliant for 2010 and remain off the approved list as of February 25, 2011.
This leaves Motorola with no fire compliant radios, along with ICOM, Harris, Kenwood, and Vertex. Those who are considering the purchase of P25 use for firefighting use should consider only the offerings of approved vendors (See http://www.nifc.gov/NIICD/docs/approved_radios.pdf for a listing of currently approved portables. Falcon Direct is privileged to represent both BK/Relm and Midland P25 radios. Call 800.489.2611 or email AtYourService@falcondirect.com for more information.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Security is a major concern for churches and schools. Personal 2-way radio has long been used by larger institutions, but there has never been a system designed specifically for smaller users and/or those with limited budgets. We are delighted to announce that there is now a system especially designed for the smaller user – It’s called the SAC (Safety, Administration and Coordination) System.
The SAC System consists of a fixed office unit and six personal 2-way radios. Both UHF and VHF versions are available. This incredible system allows selective calling of up to 10 user groups or individuals as well as an all call provision to communicate with all users simultaneously. The personal 2-way radios have the ability to communicate with up to 15 groups or individuals in privacy while still being available to receive calls on the main emergency channel.
Better yet, the SAC System is compatible with most UHF or VHF school bus radios to provide more efficient loading/unloading, traffic control, and direct driver communications as well as direct communications with public safety agencies. Are you ready for the price? Just $1,243 for the complete system! Ready to order? Just click here!
Monday, July 5, 2010
In the rated specifications for 2-way radio products, the manufacturers generally reference technology in terms of compliance with FCC, IEEE, Factory Mutual, and MIL-SPEC standards. This is good, since it provides a means of determining basic compliance issues for legal operation (FCC), IEEE (Technical standards), Factory Mutual (the insurance company providing coverage for manufacturers of Intrinsically Safe rated communications equipment), NEMA, for IP codes relating to the sealing against damage from dust and moisture, and Military Specification Standards (in particular 810E and F).
You can check out all the details on these various compliance, regulatory, and technical standards by doing an Internet search, but the subject of interest for today is SAFETY, and in particular, personal safety as it relates to potential health issues relating to RF emission standards.
You won't see much information about Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) testing for hand held radios, but it is a subject worthy of comment since it is YOUR health that might be of issue. You can check the SAR compliance testing for any FCC approved 2-way radio on the FCC web site. A review of the available data will affirm that some radio products are much safer for use than others.
As an example, we thought you might like to see an actual test report on one of the radios we offer to those we serve. The full report is available by clicking here. Keeping you informed on matters of interest is just one of the things that we do to better serve our customers, and friends, and those that may not yet have chosen Falcon Direct as their supplier of choice. Serving you is what we are all about!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Score a knockout for another FCC mandatory compliance date! For those who keep up with such things, you know that the FCC yielded to pressure to cancel their original date of 2018 for mandatory 6.25 kHz Very Narrow Band (VNB) channel spacing.
There was also a requirement for all VHF and UHF 2-way radio equipment manufactured in the USA (you've got to be wondering who that would be) or any 2-way radio imported into the USA would have to be capable of operating at 6.25 kHz channel spacing. This was later changed to 6.25 kHz equivalence for 12.5 kHz Narrow Band Channel spacing (i.e. two 6.25 kHz channels per 12.5 kHz "channel").
Now, the FCC has dropped the requirement for manufacturers to produce 6.25 kHz capable or equivalent equipment starting in 2011 and moved the date up to January 1, 2013. The bottom line is that 6.25 kHz has taken a SERIOUS hit!
There are no established coordination policies for 6.25 kHz frequencies. The message from the FCC is very clear. The manufacturers who invested heavily in developing 6.25 kHz compliant technology as well as users trying to advance greater utilization of existing spectrum have just been rewarded with a Thanks but no thanks message for trying to meet yet another unfunded mandate.
Shame on you FCC, and even more shame upon the special interest groups, lobbyists, and self serving bureaucrats who blocked the advancement of useful technology. For those that did the right thing -thank you for your effort, your investment, and your commitment for advancing communications technology.
The good news is you can purchase 6.25 kHz equipment at reasonable cost that can still operate at 12.5 or even 25 kHz channel spacing in both analog and digital modes with some truly unique capabilities. Go to www.info4u.us/IDAS-Guide.pdf for a free copy of our IDAS Narrow Band Planning Guide. We hope you will find it be useful!