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http://ssrn.com/abstract=903151
 
 

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Toward a Next Generation Architecture for Public Safety Communications


Phil Weiser


University of Colorado Law School

Dale Hatfield


University of Colorado at Boulder

Brad Bernthal


University of Colorado at Boulder

May 15, 2006

U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper

Abstract:     
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a unitary reliance on Land Mobile Radio systems (LMRs) failed public safety agencies, leaving them without any source of communications once they lost transmission capability. Unfortunately, in the wake of this tragedy, many have dusted off traditional prescriptions for improving public safety communications, such as more dedicated spectrum and more money for single-purpose LMRs (or LMRs based on technology that fails to facilitate broader functionalities). As we explain, however, both the needs underscored by Katrina and the capabilities made possible by emerging technologies call for a different strategy.

In this paper, we argue that sound policy favors adoption of a next generation flexible architecture strategy for public safety communications. Such a flexible architecture embraces technological convergence and, accordingly, strives to coordinate existing LMRs, commercial terrestrial services, satellite technology, and wireless broadband systems to provide a robust, reliable, secure, and interoperable broadband communications system. Additionally, this approach would take advantage of "multi-mode" radios which are already a reality in most segments of the marketplace (except for public safety). Such multi-mode radios are expected to be even more robust once the recently authorized "ancillary terrestrial component" (ATC) of mobile satellite services becomes an option for public safety agencies.

Notably, the flexible architecture that we advocate does not necessarily require additional spectrum dedicated for public safety agencies nor prohibitive financial investment in the equipment needed to use spectrum effectively. Rather, public safety agencies can leverage networks provided by commercial providers - particularly hybrid satellite and terrestrial systems - to satisfy many public safety needs in a cost-effective fashion. To advance this vision, policymakers should ensure that (1) satellite and terrestrial providers are afforded the opportunity - through pro-market and innovative spectrum policies - to develop effective offerings for public safety agencies; and (2) public safety agencies receive sufficient financial support to promote this type of a hybrid, next generation architecture.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: public safety, telecommunications regulation, spectrum policy

JEL Classification: O38, H54

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Date posted: July 22, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Weiser, Phil and Hatfield, Dale and Bernthal, Brad, Toward a Next Generation Architecture for Public Safety Communications (May 15, 2006). U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=903151 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.903151

Contact Information

Phil Weiser (Contact Author)
University of Colorado Law School ( email )
401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Dale Hatfield
University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )
1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
Brad Bernthal
University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )
1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
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