San Francisco committee to consider LTE deal
Members of the San Francisco budget and finance committee tomorrow will reconsider agreements with Motorola Solutions to build and operate a 700 MHz LTE network designed to serve the needs of first responders in the Bay Area.
Tomorrow’s meeting represents the second time the committee will review the proposed deal with Motorola Solutions, which is expected to bring more than $90 million in funding to the regional LTE project — $50.6 million in a federal stimulus grant awarded to the company and about $44 million in matching funds and site-remediation work provided by the vendor.
Last week, committee members unanimously expressed excitement about the prospect of San Francisco being part of a public-safety LTE network that would enable data interoperability throughout the region and eventually providing an alternative to mission-critical voice over the city’s 800 MHz land-mobile-radio (LMR) networks. However, all committee members expressed concern about the lack of financial detail provided in the presentation and the absence of a funding source, so the issue was continued until tomorrow. At least two committee members said they doubted whether enough information would be available just a week later to make a decision, but the committee will consider the item, because approval is needed by Feb. 8, so Motorola can meet grant timelines.
Public-safety officials estimated that the cost to the cited associated with the network would be as much as $7 million, or as little as $3 million — the lower figure being an estimate provided shortly before last week’s committee meeting. But the most significant costs will be paying access fees for the network — estimated at $43 per month per subscriber for the first year — and to purchase devices to access the network, because current mobile data terminals would not work on an LTE system, San Francisco budget analyst Harvey Rose said.
Public-safety officials had not provided an estimate of the number of devices that would be accessing the network, Rose said.
“If you take $43 a month, per device, and then multiplied that out of an unknown number of police officers, firefighters, deputy sheriffs, what is before you today is a small amount of the cost of this system,” Rose said during last week’s committee meeting. “The large cost is the access to the system.”
In addition to greater clarification on the data portion of the proposed LTE network, committee member asked various department leaders to meet about a long-term strategy for mission-critical voice operations in the city. During the presentation, public-safety officials indicated that mission-critical voice over LTE could be available within a decade, potentially supplanting the need for its two 800 MHz voice networks. However, San Francisco also is proposing to spend more than $100 million to upgrade the two LMR systems — one for public safety and another for the transit authority — in the near term.