T-Band Mandate Shouldn’t Be A Problem for Public-Safety Agencies

From a IWCE Urgent Communications article:

LAS VEGAS – Public-safety agencies with LMR networks operating on T-Band spectrum (470-512 MHz) should not be “overly concerned” about relocating their systems, even though current law requires them to vacate the airwaves in about seven years, according to Charles Dowd, former deputy chief for the New York City police department (NYPD).

During an IWCE 2016 workshop yesterday entitled “The Evolution of FirstNet,” Dowd said he does not believe federal lawmakers will force public-safety entities that are using T-Band spectrum to vacate the frequencies without a viable alternative.

“I don’t believe there is going to be any appetite for politicians on [Capitol Hill] to try to take back that spectrum,” Dowd said. “Quite frankly, if you read the legislation, … there are clauses that say, if they expect us to move off of T-Band, the federal government has to fund, and they have find appropriate spectrum for us to go to.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it’s a few years out. Hopefully, voice capability on a mission-critical level continues to develop. So, I don’t see it as anything that public safety needs to be overly concerned about.”

A mandate that public-safety agencies vacate the T-Band airwaves after the FCC auctions the airwaves by 2021 was included in the 2012 law that reallocated the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety and created FirstNet as the entity charged with deploying a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). Dowd recalled the circumstances on the February 2012 day when Congress passed the legislation, when he served as a deputy chief for NYPD, which has a very large T-Band radio system.

“That was an interesting morning,” Dowd said. “The night before, we got the call that we were good to go on the legislation and that [allocating the D Block to public safety] was going to be in the bill.

“There was some last-minute wrangling obviously around a number of issues, and one of them was the T-Band. Apparently, somebody thought that I said it was OK that we give back the T-Band. Yes, I was a chief in the police department. But when it comes to giving up public-safety spectrum, I think the mayor’s office was probably going to chime in on that one.”

News of the T-Band wrinkle resulted in a flurry of phone calls and meetings among New York City officials that day, and the resulting consensus was positive, Dowd said.

“Everybody kind of relaxed and understood that, overall, what happened was a huge positive for public safety nationwide,” he said. “So the excitement of passing the legislation was a little bit tempered in some of the major cities that were using T-Band. But again, it’s not an issue that—I think in the long run—is going to be a problem.”

One result of the T-Band mandate was that the FCC subsequently decided that T-Band agencies would not be subject to the agency’s 2013 narrowbanding requirement for public-safety radio systems operating on VHF and UHF spectrum, because they might have to relocate within a decade.

NYPD had not started to narrowband its massive LMR system when the legislation was passed, even though the FCC’s narrowbanding deadline was just 10 months away. The FCC’s ruling for public-safety T-Band system meant that a potential showdown between the FCC and NYPD over the narrowbanding issue never materialized.

“It’s amazing how you can conveniently forget certain things,” Dowd said jokingly when reminded of the NYPD’s narrowbanding situation at the time.

“By that December, I was going to have to explain why we hadn’t narrowbanded. But the reason we hadn’t was because it was going to cost the city of New York $300 million to narrowband the NYPD’s radio system. Quite frankly, we didn’t see it as something that was going to be necessary in the long run—kind of a waste of funds.”

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Barrett Communications – New Emergency Communications System For Los Angeles

SCMA member Glen Rothstein (LA-145, KK6OTP) shares the following article from Your Communication News:

America’s largest emergency data communications system passed its first key test at the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.

Mr Pat Mallon, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System commented “For the first time local, state and federal emergency services agencies shared voice and data communications directly with each other, and the system functioned flawlessly.” The LA-RICS project is one of five national early deployment efforts in support of the FirstNet Public Safety Broadband Network.

The LA-RICS system brings together multiple vendors who contributed to the successful launch, these included, Motorola Solutions Inc.; BlackHawk Imaging; Sonim Technology; Intrepid Networks; ESChat by SLA Corporation; NVIS Communications; Barrett Communications; Star Solutions International Inc.; Pepro LLC.; Cannon Cameras; Airship; Airwave Communications; and Milestone Video Management Systems.

The fallback network for the LA-RICS system was the Tactical Communications Unit (TCU) which was the combined knowledge of NVIS Communications, Barrett Communications , Star Solutions and Pepro LLC. The TCU provides a fallback network node for short, medium and long distance communication reach and cross service reach for voice and data, in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

The self contained TCU is highly mobile and can be set up and operated by a single person. The EMP hardened shelter encloses the TCU and the unit is self powered with a 4 day capacity diesel generator together with solar panels and backup batteries. The TCU has the short network capacity for 1,000 registered handsets and 100 co-current sessions. The medium and long range network incorporates P25, cellular, UHF, VHF connections and the ability to operate two simultaneous independent HF networks.

“The TCU has been developed as a real solution for back up voice and data communications. We are seeing more and more government organisation identifying the need for a system that is highly mobile and quick and easy to setup in the back ground to maintain communications in the event of a disaster, it’s the safety net to FirstNet.” Mr John Rosica, President of NVIS Communications, the Barrett Communications system integrator in the United States said.

About Barrett Communications

Barrett Communications is the specialist designer and manufacturer of commercial and tactical HF and VHF radio communication systems. The Company’s global distribution and customer support network in over 65 countries allows it to provide both OTS and turnkey network solutions to meet their client’s exact requirements.

Since 1976 Barrett Communications has provided HF communications solutions for government, military, business, humanitarian and AID organizations around the world.

For more information, please visit : www.barrettcommunications.com.au

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Seal Beach St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

SCMA member Glen Rothstein (LA-145, KK6OTP) provided the following information and photos:

The City of Seal Beach readies for today’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations by setting up multiple crowd control barriers and an Urban Area Mobile Incident Command Post (UAMICP).

Orange County has several UAMICP’s that are shared by the County. Today, they’re operating on Black and Green channels (both encrypted). Seal Beach Lifeguards are also prepared for the expected larger crowds and will be on Aqua (unencrypted) per usual.

On another note, the Seal Beach Chapter of the Lion’s Club is organizing a safe ride home program for those who indulge beyond legal limits.

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SCMA Member Captures USAF C-17 Leaving Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of SCMA member Chester Brown.

Photo courtesy of SCMA member Chester Brown.

SCMA member and frequent photo contributor Chester Brown (LA-203, K6CRB) took this photograph of a U.S. Air Force C-17 taking off from Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport.

The aircraft was in town in support of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to attend the Oscars in Hollywood.

As Chester said in his tweet accompanying this photo: “3 of my fav things, my flag, radios, and badass military planes.”

Thanks Chester for sharing your photograph with our members!

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Culver City Council Seeks Approval to Join South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority


The Culver City Council seeks approval of a five-year contract with the South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority (SBRPCA) to provide emergency dispatch, vehicle build and radio maintenance services to the Culver City Police and Fire Departments.

Should the City Council approve the proposal, the South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority would provide services currently performed by City staff.

The public is invited to participate in a meeting held by Lt. Jason Sims of the Culver City Police Department at the Mike Balkman Council Chambers. The chambers are located at 9770 Culver Boulevard in Culver City. The meeting will begin at 7 PM.

Persons unable to attend the meeting but who wish to submit written comments may do so by any of the following means before  4:00 PM on Monday, March 14, 2016.

  • By letter to City of Culver City, City Clerk’s Office, 9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
  • By email to city.clerk@culvercity.org
  • By fax to 310-253-6010

Some interesting background on the SBRPCA via their website:

The South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority (also referred to as “RCC” for Regional Communications Center) has provided police and fire 9-1-1 dispatching since 1977. The RCC processes approximately 250,000 police and fire incidents annually in the Southern California region commonly referred to as the “South Bay.” The RCC is a joint powers authority currently owned by the Cities of Gardena, Hawthorne and Manhattan Beach while also providing communications services to the cities of El Segundo and Hermosa Beach under contract.

The RCC’s Board of Directors, consisting of one City Council member from each of the owner cities, maintains authority over the annual budget approval for the Authority. Policy management of the Authority is relegated to the Executive Committee consisting, of the City Managers from each of the member cities. Day-to-day operations are managed by the Executive Director, who is appointed by the Executive Committee. A User Committee, consisting of police and fire chiefs from the member cities, provides direction relative to the needs of the organization. Police officers and fire fighters from the member cities make up the Police and Fire Task Forces, which provide feedback and recommendations to facilitate an optimum level of service and safety for citizens, police officers and firefighters.

The RCC is currently budgeted for 66 full-time positions. A technical services staff of seven provides radio communication installations, as well as light bars, mobile camera and computer systems and all necessary equipment for full-service, emergency vehicles. These technical services are also provided to the following outside agencies: El Camino College Campus Police Department, Gardena Public Works Department, Hermosa Beach Public Works Department, L.A. Impact, Manhattan Beach Public Works Department and the Redondo Beach Fire Department.

SCMA member Steve Herbert (LA-187, K6CRW), who alerted me of this information, adds that apparently the RCC has originally planned to serve 10 cities, including Culver City back in the mid-1980’s. Culver City pulled out of the plan after it was felt they were too north of the cluster to be practical.





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LAPD Air Support Starting to Use Encryption

Starting a few days ago, several club members noted that LAPD Air Support began using encryption on their channel. It’s currently unknown if this is activated by the radio user or if their radios are being “strapped” (mandatory, always on encryption). There are still a few helicopters who are transmitting in the clear. It’s also unknown what algorithm  is being used. I’ll try to post more info as it becomes available.


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LASD SEB Recovers Wreckage of 1 Plane and Remains of 2 Victims from Downed Aircraft

On Sunday, February 07, 2016 at approximately 2:00 p.m., members of the Special Enforcement Bureau – Tactical Dive Team with the assistance of the Los Angeles Port Police, the Long Beach Police Department and L.A. County Lifeguards, recovered wreckage of one plane and remains of two victims. The recovery was made approximately two miles outside the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports in the Los Angeles County water.

A surface area search was conducted throughout the day on Sunday by Sheriff’s Department Air Rescue 5 personnel and numerous Sheriff’s Department boats. The search efforts were primarily underwater operations, utilizing three different types of sonar devices to search the ocean floor for wreckage. Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) were also deployed, along with divers. During this remote search, wreckage of one plane and two victims were located in 105 feet deep water.

It is believed two aircrafts were involved in a mid-air collision, though this cannot be confirmed until further investigation has been completed.

The search effort was concluded for today and will resume tomorrow morning.

The identity of the victims is unknown at this time. The two victims will be identified by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner – Coroner personnel. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner – Coroner will be handling any inquiries regarding the identity of the victims’ remain.

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Introduction to HF Digital Modes – WEFAX

Most of the time we at the SCMA tend to focus on VHF and UHF communications, but have you always wondered what other types of radio communications there are? Well, the next few articles I write will cover High Frequency (HF) communications. The HF band covers radio frequencies from 3 to 30 MHz. This portion of the spectrum is just below the VHF band and just above the Medium Frequency Band (MF). You may have also heard the HF band referred to as the Shortwave Band.

This artile will focus on a mode of communications called Weather Fax (WEFAX). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with the US Coast Guard provides a service which transmits weather maps via HF frequencies to mariners at sea.

One of the many WEFAX images I downloaded.

One of the many WEFAX images I downloaded.

Although ships these days are usually equipped with satellite communications, this service is still offered to ships at sea. All that is needed to receive these maps is an HF radio, USB soundcard interface and a computer running free, open source software.

Since my daily desktop computer runs Linux, I use an open source piece of software called fldigi, which may be obtained here. Fldigi is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. This software is like a swiss army knife of digital communication modes. In addition to WEFAX, fldigi can decode PSK-31, RTTY, MT63, SITORB and even morse code (CW)!

The frequencies and schedule of WEFAX transmissions are listed here.

The frequencies given are center frequencies, not the frequency that you set your radio to. WEFAX transmissions utilize upper side band modulation (USB). USB is 3 kHz wide. Since we are given center frequencies, we need the center of our transmission on the frequencies given. So we will be setting the dial frequency 1.5 KHz below the center frequency. For example: I wish to receive WEFAX transmissions from Point Reyes, California with a center frequency of 8682.00 KHz. We will set our dial frequency to 8680.50 in USB mode. (Remember, Since our radio is in USB mode, it will transmit a 3 KHz wide carrier so we will be occupying from 8680.50 to 8683.50, making our center frequency exactly on 8682.00 KHz)

Once the proper frequency is set in our radio, now we launch fldigi on our computer. Once in the program, we want to change our operation mode. We simply select the “Op Mode” menu and select WEFAX. For this service we want to choose WEFAXIOC576.

Once we have the software setup, we wait for a transmission to begin. As long as you have the proper settings on your radio and in the software fldigi will receive the fax images and save them to a temporary directory. You may wish to be at the computer when the first image comes through. This way if the image comes in at an odd angle (which, because of the varying nature of HF propagation, frequently happens), you can correct it and all following pages will download correctly.

To view a selection of WEFAX images I was able to download, please check out the WEFAX page. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section. I’ll do my best to answer any questions.

fldigi in the process of receiving a WEFAX transmission.

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The Porky Show – January 16



The Porky Show, California’s longest running police and fire patch, badge and collectibles swap meet will take place on Saturday, January 16th in Claremont from 9 AM to 3 PM. The show is put on by the Claremont Police Department raises funds the Claremont Police Explorers program.

If you are interested in police and fire badges, patches, buckles, photos, historical documents, hats, helmets, cuffs, t-shirts or pins, this is the place for you!  Admission is only $5.

For more information see the flyer below or go to www.theporkyshow.com.

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Future of OTA TV Broadcasts Uncertain

SCMA club member Steve Herbert (LA-187, K6CRW) forwarded me this article on the future of OTA television broadcasts. The following is from a tvnewscheck.com article:

It’s difficult to pinpoint any single year in the history of television broadcasting more momentous than 2016 is likely to be.

And when I say broadcasting, I mean the medium, not the business of assembling a linear TV channel of national and local (mostly news) programming and supporting it with revenue from advertising and retransmission consent fees.

mt_wilson_1_lgThe two have been intertwined since the beginning, but not inextricably. The business could presumably exist and perhaps thrive without the medium by relying on third-party distributors — cable, satellite and broadband.

This is the year in which policymakers and broadcasters will decide whether the medium is worth preserving, whether it is worth its weight in spectrum, whether it is worth a major investment to upgrade.

The decision will come in the way they conduct themselves in the repacking of the TV band that will follow the incentive auction this spring and how far they go in embracing the next-generation broadcast TV system known as ATSC 3.0 that is just about ready to go.

If all goes according to plan, in the incentive auction the FCC will buy a big swath of TV spectrum and sell it to wireless broadband companies. In the process, it will eliminate as many as 400 full-power TV stations that choose to sell or double up on other channels.

That, in turn, will trigger the start of a forced mass migration of between 800 and 1,200 of the remaining TV stations to new channels as the FCC repacks the old TV band to segregate broadcasting and wireless so they don’t interfere with each other.

For the rest of the article, check out the tvnewscheck.com article.

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