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Things to consider if D-Block is approved for public safety use

Over the last two years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and public safety agencies and organizations across the country have debated how to best use the set of radio spectrum known as the D-block. The FCC has toyed with the idea of allowing the commercial industry to purchase this spectrum, while public safety organizations have lobbied to expand the current public safety spectrum to include the D-block. Whatever the decision, public safety agencies will continue to pursue communication systems that support mission critical activities.

Assuming public safety approves use of the D-block, it will be up to vendors to expand their systems to include this additional spectrum. Agencies will be requesting equipment that allows seamless transmissions from one radio to another, whether in the same building or across the city/county. They will also request equipment that can transmit density-rich information. This is especially true during emergency situations where capacity and priority can influence response and recovery.

Vendors will also need to improve their reliability and vulnerability. It will be more important than ever to have a strong backup network and supply that allows agencies to ensure continuity of operations. So often we hear of networks dropping or losing function; therefore, it is essential for vendors to provide heightened reliability given the presumed data-driven communication environment that will stem from future broadband initiatives.

Over the last few years, it has become clear that agencies are not just putting in digital communication networks for the sake of moving away from analog, but more to ensure their networks are flexible enough to take on any future enhancements or capabilities. This could not be truer given the current economic situation of many government entities. The purchase of digital communication systems has the ability of saving money over the long run, as opposed to analog systems, which need upgraded equipment every few years. It will be interesting to see how a potential expansion of spectrum will affect the technology being proposed and purchased.

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