California throws support to ‘Consensus Plan’ provided someone throws money
Highlight: ‘The reimbursement costs cannot be bounded by an artificial amount such as the $500 million offered by Nextel.’ — state of California
The state of California has told the FCC that it supports a particular plan to shuffle frequency assignments that would be intended to reduce or eliminate interference to public safety radio communications in the 800 MHz band.
In filing a reply comment in the FCC’s WT Docket No. 02-55 proceeding, Gary R. Grootveld, chief of Public Safety Radio Services for the Telecommunications Division of the state’s Department of General Services, said that the state concurs with a rebanding plan submitted as a consensus among 16 signatories that call themselves the Private Wireless Coalition—a plan dubbed the “Consensus Plan.”
California identified two types of 800 MHz systems that it operates, one type offering statewide coverage, and the other offering multiple-location, campus-like coverage at locations such as correctional facilities and universities.
“The state is as victim of interference being caused by Nextel and other cellular providers and is aware of the many instances of interference by public safety agencies across the country. The interference is a very real factor that is having a significant negative impact on the ability of public safety agencies to operate effectively and safely. The problem must be resolved and done so expeditiously,” the state’s comment reads.
Although the state supports the Consensus Plan, it calls for reimbursement for all public safety agencies for their costs in shifting their radio communications systems to different frequencies, costs that include:
channel-determining elements and software changes and upgrades.
replacement or retuning of antennas.
antenna transmit and receive filter elements.
other equipment that may be necessary to ensure continued operation of the system at a level equivalent to the level of operation prior to the frequency change.
engineering man-hours required to plan, design and implement the change and to update records and other documents to reflect the changes made.
technician man-hours required to implement the changes including travel time to reach existing radios in-situs.
“The reimbursement costs cannot be bounded by an artificial amount such as the $500 million offered by Nextel,” the state said.
The comment reflected the state’s concern that, once steps might begin to change the frequencies of its 800 MHz radio systems, they should proceed in an orderly fashion throughout the state until all radio systems operating in a particular system are completed, and explained why.
“For example, the state operates ‘campus-like’ 800 MHz trunked radio systems at each of the 33 prison facilities scattered throughout the state. We have purposefully constructed these systems to operate on a common set of 800 MHz channels, even though each institution operates as if it were an independent system.
“Due to the unique nature of law enforcement within a high-security prison environment, the state has trained individuals at each facility to handle disturbances and other ‘unusual’ circumstances (known as SERT teams).
“It is possible that in certain instances the SERT team from one institution may need to respond to a ‘home institution’ must be capable of operating on the radio system at the ‘disturbance institution’ so they can coordinate their efforts with local personnel.
“Thus, once even one institution is transitioned to the ‘new’ frequency assignments proposed under the Consensus Plan, then every subscriber unit statewide will need to be modified to operate on the new channels,” the comment reads.
California’s state government also voiced its concern about frequency coordination with Mexico that would affect the ability to implement the Consensus Plan, saying that it would withhold comment about the viability of the plan within the border region of the state.
“We firmly believe this [consensus] plan will make substantial improvements in resolving the interference problems currently being experienced by public safety agencies across the country, therefore it is worthy of Commission consideration. Any plan, however, must include adequate funding to ensure that public safety entities are held harmless in its implementation,” the state told the FCC.