Advisory board submits 700 MHz broadband interoperability report to FCC (with related video)
A report released yesterday outlines the minimum technical requirements needed to enable interoperability throughout the proposed nationwide 700 MHz broadband network for first responders — the first action item in the deployment of the much-anticipated project.
The 15-member Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability was appointed in March to establish minimum technical requirements for interoperability on the public-safety LTE network. Led by Chairman Charles Robinson and Vice Chairman Ken Budka, the advisory board was given just 60 days to complete the task.
"In some ways, the constrained timeline helped us to focus, if you know what I mean," Robinson said. "You tend to expand the work into the time you have, and when you don't have any time, you can't expand the work."
Robinson said the short timeline kept the board busy, but it "was just a pleasure to work with that group of professionals" that the FCC appointed to the board. In fact, Robinson said the directives for the board established in the new law proved to be more constraining to its members than the 60-day work period.
"The majority of the board felt like the statutory constraints on what we could comment on really didn't take advantage of the great experience and expertise that were on the board as it relates to not only what the minimum requirements are but what it will really take to be successful in a nationwide deployment," Robinson said.
Indeed, there is a "real thin line" between interoperability and operability — for instance, in the area of quality of service and network evolution — but statutory limitations restricted the board's ability to address operability issues, Robinson said. Some operability items were provided as recommendations for consideration in the 100-page report, but even those were not as detailed as they would have been, he said.
Budka said the interoperability board's work is an "initial step" that was limited in detail by the fact that no one knows yet how the FirstNet board — slated to be appointed in August — will choose to architect the network. With the minimum technical interoperability requirements from the board to guide deployments, serious consideration should be given to allowing a limited number of public-safety LTE deployments to proceed, so real-world network data can be gathered that the FirstNet board can use in its planning, he said.
"I think it's essential that these networks get going, because there's only so much you can do on paper," Budka said. "If you talk to any service provider who is rolling out a network, they never know on Day 1 exactly how this thing is going to look. They learn by doing; that's why they roll the network out in phases.
"It's an iterative process. You roll something out, you see how it's working, you tweak your designs, and you move forward. And that type of process is essential for building FirstNet and reducing the inherent risk of building a network like this."