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Posts Tagged ‘ Public Safety Radio ’

Playing it Safe in the Big Easy

By Mike Collado
August 6th, 2014

We’re fresh back from the heat and humidity of New Orleans which played host to the 80th APCO Annual Conference & Expo. Here are some of the highlights:


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SOLiD and Hutton Communications presidents Seth Buechley and John Walker celebrate new partnership

APCO 2014 was a fitting place to announce our new partnership with Hutton Communications. The SOLiD portfolio – including the Quad-Band Public Safety Distributed Antenna System (DAS) with support for 700/800 and 150/450 MHz – will be available to Hutton customers that deploy in-building wireless solutions to enable cellular and public-safety communications.



AGL Media’s Sharpe Smith explores the need for broadband public safety coverage indoors with panelists from PCIA, Safer Buildings Coalition, FirstNet and BICSI

With the bulk of emergency incidents occurring indoors and over 50% of emergency calls being made with a wireless device, the public safety industry is asking three fundamental questions: Can people communicate? Can people be notified? And can first responders communicate where the people are?

Chief Jeff Johnson (FirstNet board member), Jonathan Adelstein (PCIA CEO) and Phil Klingensmith (BICSI Master Instructor) joined Chief Alan Perdue of the Safer Buildings Coalition (SOLiD is a member) to explore how to overcome the challenges of ensuring public-safety communication which the panel agreed is a shared responsibility.


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FirstNet board member Chief Jeff Johnson discusses the need for in-building public safety communications

According to FirstNet’s Chief Johnson, wireless is essential – not optional. In an interview with Urgent Communications after the panel, Chief Johnson looks to the market to design around an ecosystem which in turn will create an economic model for stakeholder participation.

(We missed seeing Donny Jackson this year and we wish you a speed recovery from survey! Learn more here)



SOLiD Public-Safety DAS

According to Safer Buildings Coalition executive director Chief Perdue, there is no “one size fits all” solution to ensure indoor public safety communication. Similarly, the industry is not in agreement on whether networks should be “blended” to support public safety and commercial cellular services on a single infrastructure or whether separate “parallel” networks should be deployed that are supported by solutions such as SOLiD’s quad-band700/800/150/450 MHz) solution which covers broadband and narrowband public safety services.


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Lots of interest among attendees on addressing broadband coverage indoors


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Packed room of AHJ’s at the SOLiD / Hutton cocktail reception. Honored to have hosted Pat Daniel, wife of the late Jack Daniel who pioneered the model NFPA and International Fire Code (IFC) codes requiring in-building radio coverage.



The calm before the storm…



Dixieland band at the APCO Block Party



When in New Orleans, it’s cafe au lait and beignets!



Saint Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square



The Steamboat Natchez


The iconic Crescent City Connection Bridge


What A Difference A Year Makes

By Mike Collado
August 22nd, 2013

SOLiD and the Safer Buildings Coalition returned to APCO’s annual conference to engage the industry to advance strategies for applying wireless technology to ensure in-building communications for the public and first responders. It’s a topic we initiated in earnest in 2012 in front an FCC Panel and spoke about at APCO 2012.

In contrast to our panel presentation last year which drew audience members who were mainly curious, this year our roundtable attracted myriad stakeholders actively engaging, debating and seeking solutions.

With a nod to the importance of the topic, APCO scheduled us to kick off the week of education sessions.

Our elite group of panelists included Jonathan Adelstein (President & CEO of  PCIA and former Commissioner of the FCC), Robert LeGrande (Founder of The Digital Decision and former CTO for the District of Columbia) and James Teel (Director of Business Development at Harris Corporation) who all brought their A-games and great perspectives.

What’s notable is that industry interest in solving for the Public Safety “last mile” – enabling coverage inside buildings – appears to be tracking with momentum fueled by the advances of FirstNet.

(Remember that only a year ago, FirstNet board members were announced)

One of the key questions we’re exploring is whether in-building will be a topic FirstNet will wrestle with or whether it will be left to the local jurisdictions to solve.

What is Public-Safety?

We believe public-safety coverage inside buildings means three things:

  1. People are notified when there is an emergency
  2. People can communicate during the emergency
  3. First responder radio systems work when they show up at the emergency

First responder radios – today as narrowband Land Mobile Radios (LMR) and in the future as wideband LTE-based radios – suffer from the same problem as cellular smartphones: reflective glass and heavy construction obstruct outdoor wireless radio frequencies from penetrating into the building. Which is exacerbated for fire fighters and emergency personnel in stairwells and underground parking areas.

Put simply, communication for both the general public and first responders is mission-critical.

The Challenge

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think that public-safety radios should work indoors.

But a key reality is that both cellular and public-safety are two radically different worlds. Curiously, in-building is a rare intersection of the two.

DAS has long been deployed to enable in-building cellular service. And industry experts increasingly consider DAS to be a effective platform to enable public-safety.

(Check out our video on the Bellevue Collection where the DAS supports cellular and public-safety communications)

Yet industry stakeholders cite objections to an unfunded mandate to provide indoor public-safety including technical, liability, cost and management.

As a result, for every 100 cellular DAS deployments, there are only one or two in-building public-safety installations.

The Solutions

Nearly everyone agrees that now is the time to be having these conversations because without leadership and action, we stand to lose the opportunity to ensure that infrastructure being deployed for cellular can also help first responders protect others and themselves.

These in-building networks must possess technical characteristics to be “public-safety grade” with  reliability, survivability, capacity, coverage and LTE capability.

While just about anyone can get litigated, provisions and incentives should be made – perhaps as a good Samaritan law or safe harbor – to protect stakeholders who deploy networks that meet appropriate standards to enable public-safety communications indoors.

A business model must be created to service FirstNet and the vision of public-safety. The addition of public-safety to a cellular DAS is an incremental cost. An insightful question from an audience member was whether insurance incentives offset the network investment?

Lastly, best-practices need to be created and required for those who design, install, manage and maintain these mission-critical unified in-building networks.

Inspire & Require

Perhaps the best summation of how to achieve the vision of in-building public-safety came from Rob LeGrande who, in his tenure as CTO of the District of Columbia, navigated the challenges of deploying a public-safety network throughout city’s Metro subway system.

Reminiscent of the Teddy Roosevelt “Big Stick Ideology” (speak softly, and carry a big stick), he observed that balancing need, technology, cost and policy demand the right mix of inspiration and requirement.

Multiple resources – including APCO, PCIA and Safer Buildings Coalition – are and must continue to collaborate to lead this initiative because a great idea poorly implemented simply dies on the vine.

Your Turn

Did you attend APCO – what captured your attention this year?


APCO 2013 Panel: Jonathan Adelstein, James Teel, Robert LeGrande with Seth Buechley


Seth Buechley Interview with TIA NOW


Seth Buechley with Donny Jackson (Urgent Communications)


SOLiD Exhibited the ALLIANCE "Neutral Host" DAS for Cellular & Public-Safety and the EXPRESS Quad Band Public-Safety DAS for UHF / VHF / 700 / 800 MHz Frequencies

A Different Vibe at the 2013 IWCE Conference

By Mike Collado
March 25th, 2013

EXPRESS PS at Tempest Telecom Booth

The resounding observation among attendees of the 2013 IWCE Conference was newfound “energy”.

Maybe it’s because in 2012 Las Vegas played host simultaneously to HIMSS and IWCE which siphoned off – or at least competed with – attendance at the public-safety and two-way radio technology event. But this year it seemed that IWCE attracted twice the number of attendees!

And with the combination of FirstNet initiatives and the industry push toward LTE public-safety communications, the event appears to be attracting new entrants who are bringing an information technologies (IT) outlook to radio frequency (RF).

Which is a good thing as the public-safety and cellular industries collaborate to ensure that mission-critical communications for first responders work both outdoors and indoors.

DAS (Finally) Gets its Due

Whereas in previous years solving the challenge of indoor public-safety communications was typically handled in a lone signal boosters session, the 2013 agenda hosted multiple sessions on DAS, small cells and interoperability communications not to mention backhaul. SOLiD and many members of the DAS Forum who are active within public-safety were on hand to participate on the educational sessions.

During the In-Building Wireless and DAS Fundamentals workshop, SOLiD’s President and Founder of the Safer Buildings Coalition – Seth Buechley – joined a panel of DAS OEMs and Integrators to explore industry trends and initiatives.

While public-safety communications has moved away from “fireman jacks” (where first responders used to plug in radios to building wiring) and instead to RF wireless coverage, the need for RF coverage extension remains.

The cellular industry solves these challenges through DAS. Which is why the Safer Buildings Coalition advocates for accommodating public-safety on the same in-building network that enables cellular.

Consolidation & Convergence

Increasingly building owners are being mandated to include public-safety coverage. Panelists suggest a trend of consolidation and convergence.

For instance, Seth Buechley asked if DAS is seen as the plumbing that delivers RF, shouldn’t cellular and public-safety be delivered on the same network?

Darlene Braunschweig (Tempest Telecom) likened today’s in-building public-safety market to the early days of neutral-host cellular DAS when building owners insisted on a single platform as opposed to having three systems installed by three different people.

Indeed, Tempest reports that the firm is seeing fewer public-safety only deployments.

And following the trend of convergence, Seth Buechley shared that a key initiative of Safer Buildings Coalition is to create and consolidate myriad cellular and public-safety standards bodies and integrator certification programs so as to ensure that the needs of both industries are satisfied to ensure mission-critical communications.

Look for more from Safer Buildings Coalition at the APCO Annual Conference & Expo.

Public-Safety Only DAS

Although the industry trend is toward a converged, neutral-host DAS platform for both cellular and public-safety, building owners will increasingly be on the hook to enable public-safety communications as local codes include coverage mandates.

To address this need, SOLiD launched its single system public-safety DAS – EXPRESS PS – at IWCE which was showcased in Tempest’s booth.

EXPRESS PS supports 700/800/UHF/VHF public-safety frequencies on a single system and provides coverage for public-safety and land mobile radio (LMR) communications services inside buildings.

Now Your Turn

Did you attend IWCE? What were your key takeaways?

SOLiD President & Safer Buildings Coalition Founder Seth Buechely at IWCE








DAS, Small Cells & WiFi Are Key Themes During the 2012 Wireless Infrastructure Show

By Mike Collado
October 4th, 2012

2012 Wireless Infrastructure Show

SOLiD spent a productive and meeting-filled week in sunny – er, rainy and VERY muggy – Orlando, Florida at the 2012 Wireless Infrastructure Show where it seemed as though Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), Small Cells, Backhaul and WiFi were on the lips of nearly every presenter and attendee. What a difference a year makes.

This well-attended event drew stakeholders from the wireless operators, DAS manufacturers, integrators and backhaul solutions providers as well as other infrastructure providers and professional services firms.

The first day general session keynote served as the backdrop for the introduction of Jonathan Adelstein as President & CEO of PCIA while the second day’s keynote, headlined by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, attracted a packed house.

Lastly, it must be said that the DAS Community is a dedicated bunch of individuals – in spite of the Monday Night Football Party held by the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum (WWLF), the DAS Forum Breakfast and Annual Meeting scheduled at a ambitiously early 7 am the following morning was filled!

DAS: A Success Story 15 Years in the Making

It was observed during the DAS Forum‘s Annual Meeting how “hot” the DAS market is. But it’s important to understand how much it’s evolved (read our series of posts here):

  • Early adopters included shopping malls, casinos and airports. Today, Healthcare, Education, Sports Venues and Corporate Campuses drive the majority of DAS deployments.
  • DAS was originally conceived to enable voice coverage. Today, DAS is about the delivery of data capacity in a market where, according to Cisco’s Bob Friday, mobile data will grow by a rate of 26 times between now and 2015.
  • First-generation passive DAS network technology has been replaced by fiber-efficient, high-power active DAS systems.
  • Neutral-host DAS platforms have become so prevalent that RF Engineers just entering the industry are often surprised when they encounter single-carrier systems.
  • Public-safety is rapidly becoming a requirement to support local fire codes. As a founding member of the Safer Buildings Coalition, SOLiD believes that any DAS installed should accommodate public-safety communication services.

 Just What is a Small Cell?

Ask 10 people what is a small cell and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

The purpose is simple – small cells complement the macro network in providing capacity offload, better coverage and improved end user experience.

You put the cell site closer to the user to achieve system efficiency. This translates into a better user experience which is delivered from a lower power, lower cost site.

The confusion around the definition gets compounded by names such as femtocell, picocell, metrocell and microcell.

So what is a small cell?

We believe it’s anything less than 20 watts. It has a low height (versus a tower). It’s networked and self-optimizing. And the backhaul cannot be over-the-top to ensure quality of service.

What do you think?

Backhaul Gets Its Due

Backhaul Panel Discussion

Earlier this year, Iain Gillot at iGR blogged that mobile backhaul is the elephant in the room. His point was that while the industry had been talking about small cells ad nauseum, there was little discussion about how to move traffic to and from the small cell to the cell tower?

It’s been well established that the bandwidth explosion is going to last.

SOLiD had the privilege to join a diverse panel of experts that included dark and lit fiber providers, integrated solutions providers and backhaul equipment manufacturers to tackle the topic.

What emerged was that just like the broad set of tools to move the cell closer to where the users are, there needs to be multiple solutions in the toolbox for backhauling.

Ultimately the right answer is about weighing cost versus performance.

SOLiD believes that – in spite of the marketing buzz from microwave backhaul solution providers – that fiber is the most compelling approach for its scalability and cost-effectiveness.

Analysts including iGR’s Iain Gillot, Yankee Group’s Jennifer Pigg and ABI’s Aditya Kaul tell us that fiber is today preferred by mobile operators for backhaul provided it is available at the cell location. (See below analysis from iGR).

SOLiD’s INFINTY ACCESS solution multiplexes 16 channels of high-capacity broadband per strand of fiber. But what’s unique is the cost of the tunable laser that drives this technology: it costs a fraction of similar tunable lasers. We expect that as small cells begin to be deployed in greater numbers, fiber solutions like SOLiD’s will be similarly deployed.

Collision & Convergence

Question: What’s the cheapest way to gain licensed spectrum?

Answer: Offloading traffic onto unlicensed spectrum vis a vis WiFi.

It used to be that voice and data lived in separate worlds. However, Cisco’s Bob Friday showed in his presentation how the iPhone has ushered in (if not forced) the collision of the two.

Indeed, mobile operators are using every trick in the book to squeeze capacity out of their networks.

In addition to small cells and outdoor DAS, WiFi is a compelling method to “offload” traffic which AT&T has been doing in locations such as Starbuck’s.

One of the biggest pain points for capacity is at sports venues where on Game Day, a network can come to a grinding halt by 80,000 rabid fans texting, tweeting and uploading photos and video at the same time after a key play. As AT&T’s Chad Townes discussed this week, WiFi is very attractive to offload capacity and save Radio Access Network (RAN) spectrum.

Although many DAS manufacturers likely wished for WiFi to go away, it’s clear that WiFi is another tool to choose from in the solutions bag.

As the first DAS OEM to converge commercial cellular and public-safety on the same platform, SOLiD embraces what appears to be an evolution trend towards a mash-up of DAS / Small Cells / WiFi / Backhaul.

We suspect that’s what the interesting case studies at the 2013 Wireless Infrastructure Show will address.

Tell us below in the comments what stood out for you at the show.


Courtesy of iGR