Most public attention has been focused on the impact that construction stoppages are having on the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) public-safety LTE system, but changes in that network also will affect the regional P25 LMR network that is being built, an LA-RICS official said.

Although the projects were bid separately, Motorola Solutions is the vendor for both the public-safety broadband LTE and narrowband LMR systems being built by LA-RICS. To save money, LA-RICS planned to use several of the LTE sites—including those that a firefighters’ union have claimed to be unsafely close to fire stations—to support P25 antennas for the LMR network, according to LA-RICS Executive Director Patrick Mallon.

Amid considerable public pressure from unions and local residents, elected officials for Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles recently voted to stop construction at most of the proposed LTE sites. Last Friday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) suspended construction on the LA-RICS LTE network and directed LA-RICS to propose a revised LTE network design by Monday, April 13.

Resolving issues associated with the public-safety LTE deployment are clearly the priority—LA-RICS could lose more than $100 million in federal grant money administered by NTIA, if the project is not completed by the Sept. 30 statutory deadline—but the need to identify alternative sites also impacts P25 plans for the region, Mallon said. At least eight sites at LA County fire stations were supposed to support P25 antennas, as well as LTE infrastructure, Mallon said Monday during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“There are a number of fire-station sites that were to be included in the LMR system,” he said. “That will affect coverage, and we’ll have to use alternative sites, if we can find any.”

In addition to creating these easily identifiable coverage gaps, the potential loss of planned LTE sites likely will limit options to enhance P25 signal strength in certain key locations in the region, particularly where in-building coverage may not be realistic from a macro LMR tower, Mallon said.

As for the NTIA suspension, Mallon said “there were no surprises” in the announcement. LA-RICS officials will be working hard this week to revamp the LTE network plan in time for the LA-RICS joint powers authority (JPA) board of directors to review it on Friday, he said. Any changes in the new LA-RICS proposal can be ironed out over the weekend, so the revisions can be submitted to NTIA on Monday, Mallon said.