In March, Motorola Solutions announced the APX 8000, a P25 portable radio that includes Wi-Fi connectivity, operates in all public-safety bands, and has an adaptive audio engine that automatically changes the voice-quality settings in the radio in a manner that works in the user’s current environment.
“First of all, it’s an all-band radio,” Tom Quirke, Motorola Solutions’ vice president of global marketing for government products, services and solutions, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications . “Secondly, it’s going to have Wi-Fi on it. That’s going to be a lot of labor savings and cost savings for our fleet management of radios. Thirdly, it has much more enhanced audio than we’ve done before.
Several states and territories expressed criticism of FirstNet’s preliminary legal interpretation of opt-out options, asking for detailed clarity in FirstNet’s state plans and questioning whether the federal entity is legally authorized to take some of the stances its staff has proposed.
Multiple state comments in court filings noted that the sequence of steps a state must follow to exercise its opt-out should be revisited. If a governor chooses the opt-out route within the 90-day period, the state has 180 days to conduct an RFP and submit its RAN plan to the FCC for consideration. After clearing that hurdle, the potential opt-out state would ask the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for permission to apply for a spectrum-lease agreement from FirstNet.
“FirstNet must consider its state plan, when delivered, [to be] a binding contract rather than a simple promise,” according to the State of Washington filing. “Unless FirstNet considers the state plan a binding contract, then the entire consultation process is relatively meaningless.”
During May's FirstNet Industry Day, FirstNet officials announced they sought partnerships that would ensure the nationwide public-safety broadband network is financially sustainable in the long term and provides first responders with “the best price possible” for service.
During the Industry Day event—conducted in Virginia and webcast—FirstNet officials outlined multiple operational and functional aspects of the much-anticipated broadband network that will be deployed on 700 MHz spectrum. But significant attention was paid to information about FirstNet’s business-model vision.
“We do think [financial sustainability is] achievable, because we have significant assets at our disposal,” said John Quinlan, FirstNet’s deputy chief financial officer for strategic planning. “It’s a critical principle, because, one, it’s required by our own authorizing statute under federal laws, and more importantly, if we were to reach financial sustainability, we can provide assurance to our public-safety end users that we have a financial stable network that will be around for a long time.”
In September, FirstNet board members unanimously voted on a resolution to exclusively accept national deployment offers for its final request for proposal (RFP). The resolution removesd the previous possibility of building out a network specifically for a region or state. “After careful analysis and weighing the pros and cons, FirstNet management recommends to the board that the acquisition approach should follow a nationwide-provider-solution approach,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said while introducing the resolution during the board meeting, which was webcast. “The nationwide-solution approach will assure a comprehensive network solution for public safety. This solution is responsible for all 56 states and territories and inherently will deliver a more consistent package of products and services for public safety.”
Earlier this year, officials for 3GPP, the standards body for LTE technology, said the organization plans to establish a standard for mission-critical-voice functionality over LTE early next year. That action could have significant impact on both 4G LTE initiatives and LMR plans for public-safety and critical-communications entities.
To help ensure that this aggressive timeline can be met, 3GPP has created a new working group—called SA6—specifically to tackle the challenges associated with mission-critical applications, with an initial focus on mission-critical voice, according to 3GPP officials.
In this View From the Top blog, Andrew Seybold offers some suggestions on how FirstNet’s upcoming final request for proposal should be formulated to draw the attention of commercial partners. Seybold warns that FirstNet cannot be procured like “things or services” as in other RFP models. In order to successfully provide a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPBSN), he says, the RFP process must focus on the partnership more than the penalties. “FirstNet must set reasonable milestones and be truly open to the concept of partnering and teaming, as opposed to simply demanding. When paying 100% of the cost of procurement, it is fine to demand what you want and impose penalties when you don’t get it. However, when seeking partners to join as a member of a team, demands should only be made for the benefit of the customer (public safety), and all partners should have a way of resolving issues.”
Los Angeles City Council members unanimously voted in the Spring to halt construction of Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) public-safety LTE cell sites in the city—a move that could have undermined the largest first-responder broadband project in the country, according to several sources.
With the 12-0 vote, the Los Angeles City Council ordered that “construction of the LTE system at city of Los Angeles fire stations and police stations not commence, or immediately cease, if started.” This represents the second major entity to halt LTE construction, after the Los Angeles County board of supervisors stopped construction at most of its fire stations and many other sites for a period of at least two weeks.
In the wake of the City Council vote, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) suspended the LA-RICS public-safety LTE project for several weeks. Later in the year, a scaled-down version of the planned network was built, but the Los Angeles City Council voted in the fall to pull out of LA-RICS.
It never happened, but one of the top stories of 2015 involved speculation that industry giant Motorola Solutions was looking for a buyer.
Officials for critical-communications manufacturing giant Motorola Solutions were contemplating a potential sale of the 87-year-old company in February, according to reports from Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.
If the sale of Motorola Solutions were to come to fruition, it would represent the final step in dismantling the iconic communications firm during the past several years. In 2010, Motorola announced that it would sell its commercial-networks division that developed LTE infrastructure to Nokia Siemens Networks. In 2011, the Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola’s commercial-handset unit, some of which was sold later to Lenovo. Less than a year ago, Motorola Solution sold its enterprise division to Zebra Technologies for $3.45 billion in an all-cash deal.
“Look at what Motorola has done. They’ve shed themselves of their cellular business. They’ve shed themselves of their enterprise business systems. Now, their radio business is small enough to be acquired by anyone. So don’t think that the industry is a secure place for all contracts and everybody as you know them today. In the next 5-10 years, the lay of the land will be different," an industry source said earlier this year.
Rockwell Collins announced plans for a nationwide high-frequency radio network, ARINC UrgentLink, which is designed to provide communications between public-safety and critical infrastructure bodies when typical communication infrastructure is inoperable due to natural or man-made disaster. Rockwell Collins has a pilot HF Radio network running at a large sheriff’s department currently, and the system will be available to other public-safety agencies within a year, said Dave Chapman, Rockwell Collins product manager
RCC Consultants, one of the best-known engineering and consulting firms in the critical-communications industry, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May with an announcement that the company owed several million dollars to its 78 employees and other creditors.
By July, the consulting firm’s business and assets were bought by Black & Veatch (B&V) for a purchase price of $3.1 million, according to a motion filed by RCC Consultants in its bankruptcy court.
“RCC expands our access to new client relationships and brings specific industry expertise,” Marty Travers, president of Black & Veatch’s telecommunications business, explained the strategy behind the purchase in a prepared statement. “Black & Veatch’s well-established carrier and utility telecom business, coupled with RCC’s capabilities, will enhance our service offerings for public-safety clients.
Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×