Emergency Communications: Various Challenges Likely to Slow Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 983KB]

From the Highlights: "Emergency responders across the nation rely on land mobile radio (LMR) systems to gather and share information and coordinate their response efforts during emergencies. These public safety communication systems are fragmented across thousands of federal, state, and local jurisdictions and often lack 'interoperability,' or the ability to communicate across agencies and jurisdictions. To supplement the LMR systems, in 2007, radio frequency spectrum was dedicated for a nationwide public safety broadband network. Presently, 22 jurisdictions around the nation have obtained permission to build public safety broadband networks on the original spectrum assigned for broadband use. This requested report examines (1) the investments in and capabilities of LMR systems; (2) plans for a public safety broadband network and its expected capabilities and limitations; (3) challenges to building this network; and (4) factors that affect the prices of handheld LMR devices. GAO [Government Accountability Office] conducted a literature review, visited jurisdictions building broadband networks, and interviewed federal, industry, and public safety stakeholders, as well as academics and experts. […] The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should work with partners to identify and communicate opportunities for joint procurement of public safety LMR devices. In commenting on a draft of this report, DHS agreed with the recommendation. GAO also received technical comments, which have been incorporated, as appropriate, in the report."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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