Saturday, December 1, 2012

Public Safety LTE versus Public 4G - I've got a question.......

Although I would never criticize senior government officials or the various individuals dedicated to planning for the safety of our citizens and first responders, there are some things that just don’t make a lot of sense to me.

For example, I understand that we have now established the First Responder Network Authority, better known as FirstNet, to oversee the building of a dedicated 4G/LTE standards based network for the exclusive use of public safety users.  I further understand if will operate in the “D” Block or 700 MHz band.  So far, so good, but I do have a question or two.

First, if it does the same thing as 4G (which is what our smart phones use), then the question is why build another network when there are already four in place (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon)?  Seems to be like this is awfully expensive just for the benefit of having an “exclusive” network….

I understand the “devices” designed for use on this network are in the thousand dollar range, which is certainly less expensive than the seven thousand dollar interoperable radios being promoted by several major 2-way radio manufacturers.  But there is also the question of the infrastructure cost.

Based on a projected individual user cost of $60 monthly per device (a little more than I would expect to pay on an LTE carrier based service), I understand that it would require 75 public safety users PER SQUARE MILE of coverage, and, this does NOT include in-building coverage. Worse yet, this cost would be in addition to what the user may already be paying for smart phone service!

So it appears that population densities of this magnitude would apply in only a handful of major cities where in-building coverage is an absolute necessity.  Have I missed something here, or has SOMEONE ELSE missed something?  I seems to me like a device capable of scanning all carrier based systems would accomplish, or even exceed the goal for reliable public safety communications.  What do you think?  Feel free to send your comments to