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Reliable Wireless Public Safety Communications Is Vital to Serving and Protecting our Communities

by: Robert Kenny

April 8, 2010 - 12:29 PM


Last October, my family and I enjoyed a day of community-related events in our hometown in Virginia. One of the biggest thrills for my two sons and me was climbing up into the fire truck for hook and ladder company number one. We were impressed with all of the bells and whistles in the driver and passenger compartments, particularly the radio system. The local sheriff's patrol car was equally impressive and certainly had brighter flashing lights.

We all recognize and appreciate the dedication and daily sacrifices that America's first responders and hospital emergency departments make on a daily basis to keep the communities they serve healthy and safe. As public safety moves to implement more robust and reliable communications using the 700 MHz band, we must all do our part to help support broadband services for police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and hospitals.

Beginning on June 12, 2010, the FCC will prohibit the use of wireless microphones and similar devices in the 700 MHz band so that public safety and commercial licensees will be better protected against potential interference to their operations by wireless mic users, such as for sporting events and various other forms of entertainment -- even karaoke.

The FCC is not saying that the public must cease using wireless mics, but rather that they must not use wireless mics that operate in the 700 MHz band -- and there are a number of options available to the public. Continuing to operate illegally after June 12th could cause harmful interference to public safety voice and data communications in the 700 MHz band and negatively affect the ability of first responders to serve and protect our communities.

It is absolutely essential that public safety have crystal clear communications. Imagine scenarios where a police officer needs to communicate with a 9-1-1 dispatcher who has details of a home burglary and potential hostage situation; a firefighter needs to receive blueprints via broadband services for a burning commercial building before entering so they know the structural make-up and location of hazardous materials; or a paramedic needs to transmit a heart attack victim's EKG to a nearby hospital so that an emergency medical team can be assembled and ready to treat the patient before he or she arrives by ambulance.

These are all real life situations that demonstrate the need for effective communications that are free from interference and which protect first responders and provide vital help to those in need.

Please keep in mind that someone in the general public who operates a wireless microphone or similar device on the 700 MHz band after June 12th will be in violation of FCC rules, could face enforcement action by the Commission and most importantly could negatively impact the outcome of an emergency situation.

For more information on the FCC's rules regarding wireless microphones, click here

Updated: April 16, 2012 - 03:15 PM
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