Tests of 10-MHz LTE Broadband Network in San Francisco Bay Area Prove Public Safety’s Need for D-Block Spectrum

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Comprehensive real-world testing by Seybold organization shows 10-MHz of 700-MHz band spectrum not enough for first responders. Adjacent D-Block recommended to avoid problems in emergency situations.

Physical tests conducted by the wireless industry analysis and consulting firm Andrew Seybold, Inc. on behalf of the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority have revealed that the 10 MHz of 700-MHz band spectrum so far authorized by the FCC for development of a national Public Safety broadband network will be inadequate for the Public Safety community’s needs for a national first responder network.

The report from the study, entitled “Project Cornerstone Network LTE Testing,” concludes that the Public Safety community needs 20 MHz of contiguous spectrum in order to accommodate the combined voice, data, pictures and video traffic of all first responders if a single Public Safety broadband network is to be adopted.

To achieve 20 MHz, the report recommends that the “D-Block” contiguous to the currently assigned 10 MHz of spectrum also be allocated to Public Safety rather than be resubmitted for auction for commercial purposes. The D-Block was previously offered to commercial users at auction in 2008, but had no takers.

“Theoretical arguments have been made as to Public Safety’s need for this additional bandwidth,” Lead Consultant Andrew Seybold said, “but now we have solid proof. Rigorous testing has shown that as incidents build, so does the demand placed on the LTE broadband network. And since most of the relevant incidents take place in small geographic areas, the opportunity for network congestion grows disproportionately, to the point where blocked calls and communications breakdowns are virtually assured.”

The East Bay area where Seybold consultants conducted their tests is one of 21 jurisdictions granted waivers to begin implementing the authorized 10 MHz of broadband spectrum. The network was stress-tested under emergency scenarios that included a bank robbery/hostage situation; a multi-story building fire; and a multi-vehicle accident with multiple injuries and extensive damage.

“These are all situations that are in the news on a daily basis, all involving the participation of the broad Public Safety community – police, fire and emergency management – simultaneously,” Seybold said. “The study showed conclusively that even in ‘routine’ emergencies, networks can quickly become clogged by the traffic of first responders. And we well know the impact of broad-scope catastrophes such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the recent East Coast Hurricane Irene, each of which taxed the available communications resources well beyond their capacities.”

Noted Bill McCammon, executive director of the East Bay Regional Communications System: “These tests duplicated real-world Public Safety incidents that occur in most areas of the United States on a daily basis, and prove conclusively that Public Safety requires at least 10 MHz of additional spectrum to be able to provide first responders with the data and video they need to manage these incidents.”

The Public Safety community definitely needs a nationwide broadband network, stated Chief Harlin McEwen, chairman and CEO of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST).

“All of the leading national public safety organizations believe that the 10 MHz of spectrum so far allocated is not sufficient to provide the data and video services needed during incidents,” Chief McEwen said. “The Seybold organization’s tests, conducted over the first 10-MHz Public Safety broadband network, strengthen our case that we need 20 MHz of spectrum available for our day-to-day operations.”

According to Seybold, McCammon and McEwen, the test report is a must-read for Public Safety authorities as well as for anyone in the commercial LTE broadband sector. It is available at the Seybold website: http://andrewseybold.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cornerstone09-14-11FNL.pdf. It is also filed with the FCC as a comment under docket 06-229.

About Andrew Seybold, Inc.
Andrew Seybold, Inc. is dedicated to solving client challenges through strategic consulting, client-specific research and analysis, publications, speaking engagements and educational programs. Company founder Andrew M. Seybold and his partners provide deep technology and business expertise, proven best practices and long-established relationships with industry leaders. Mr. Seybold is highly regarded for his COMMENTARY and PUBLIC SAFETY ADVOCATE e-newsletters and the Andrew Seybold Wireless University. For more information, visit http://www.andrewseybold.com.

Linda Seybold
805 898 2460


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Victor Wortman
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