In a joint statement issued on May 16,2003 - Public Safety Agencies resoundingly questioned Motorola's technical solution as "THE" solution to eliminate radio interference problems in the 800 MHz frequency range from cellular telephones. The agencies that made the joint statement included the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), National Sheriffs Association (NSA), and the Major County Sheriffs Association (MCSA).
While the Public Safety agencies listed above recognize Motorola's technical solution as significant and beneficial, they do not believe that the improvements are a "technological silver bullet" that would solve the 800 MHz interference problem. In one clear and collective voice, the Public Safety Consortium stated that, "...we continue to support the adoption of the "Consensus Plan," which would lead to lasting protection against interference, without imposing costs on state and local governments."
The Consortium further states that, "Motorola's recent correspondence to the FCC seems to understate the extent of the 800 MHz interference problem, and appears to support an approach that is largely 'reactive' to interference problems as they occur." The Consortium goes on to identify that the cellular telephone interference problem is far more widespread and that a systemic solution is the only comprehensive method of solving the interference problem by preventing interference problems all together. Further noted, Motorola's radio modifications may not work on all types of radio equipment and the modifications may not be effective in radio systems that do not meet specific performance levels.
The Consortium of Public Safety Agencies recognized Motorola's proposal for radio equipment modifications by stating, "...would be beneficial in the overall effort to address 800 MHz band interference, and would be an excellent complement to, but not substitute for, the Consensus Plan." The Consortium plans a more detailed response in the near future.
As stated in my previous article, as reinforced by the Consortium's statement, the interference solution is a comprehensive one. A comprehensive approach would support the continued progress toward the rebanding effort as outlined in the "Consensus Plan" (without any delay or discussion) and utilize any technical solutions (including Motorola's) that arise as a complement to the Consensus Plan.
Charles Werner is Deputy Fire Chief for the Charlottesville, VA FD. He is chair of the IAFC Technology Advisory Group.