MISA/ASIM Canada Urges Industry Canada To Open Up Public Safety Broadband
December 21, 2012
government should designate specific frequencies within the wireless broadband
spectrum for use by municipalities for all of their purposes, not just public
safety, MISA/ASIM Canada has recommended.
cannot afford to purchase two wireless networks, one for public safety and
another for general purposes, as would be the case under the government’s
current proposal, MISA/ASIM Canada said in a letter to Industry Canada.
The letter, dated
October 23, 2012, and signed by MISA/ASIM Canada President Kathryn Bulko, was
in response to the government’s request for comment on an element of its plan,
announced in March 2012, to set aside some spectrum in the 700 MHz band for
public safety broadband.
Industry Canada specifically asked for comment on what is
called the "D block” of spectrum (788-793 MHz), which it wants to use for a
national mobile broadband network to deliver high-speed data services to Canada’s public
This follows a
similar move in the United
States. In February, President Barack Obama
signed into law legislation to allocate the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public
safety and provide $7 billion in federal funding to help build a nationwide
high-speed network for first responders.
In Canada, Industry Canada is asking if the D block of
spectrum should be reserved for emergency-service providers, called "Category
1” organizations, or if this spectrum should also be available to other "Category
2” government bodies that potentially could be involved in public safety, such
as transportation or public works departments.
position is that municipalities should not be forced to purchase equipment for
two separate radio systems – one for emergency service providers and another
for other municipal departments.
believes that it is essential to permit municipalities to use this network for
day-to-day operations as well as during emergencies for both Category 1 and 2
groups,” the letter states.
also asserts that most if not all municipal departments contribute to public
safety, and are therefore Category 2 users.”
The submission was
prepared by a working group led by Rob Schneider, vice-president of MISA/ASIM
Canada and director of information technology for Strathcona County, Alberta.
He consulted with the nine-member MISA/ASIM Canada Board of Directors as well
as Geoff Hogan of Grey County, Ontario, president of MISA Ontario, and Mike
Richard, manager of strategic projects for the City of Fredericton.
The complete letter
is posted at https://sites.google.com/site/misaasimcanada. It emphasizes
MISA/ASIM Canada’s concern that municipal wireless communications should not be
"The integration of
public works, transit, utilities, GIS, planning and other information sources
is becoming more critical to optimize the success of emergency services,” the
services such as e-mail, instant messaging and collaboration facilities as well
as human resources, financial and procurement systems are becoming an important
part of a successful emergency services role.”
The letter also
comments on Industry Canada’s
assumptions concerning the availability of commercial equipment for the D
block, saying that consumer devices such as tablets and smartphones would
probably not be usable.
"The concern is
that, if this part of the spectrum were reserved for public safety use,
consumer devices would not have the ability to work on these frequencies,”
Schneider said in an interview.
"For example, iPads are commonly used in our emergency services
department, yet they will probably never be able to use this spectrum since the
manufacturer of the device (Apple in this case) will not see the economic value
in modifying the iPad to work in this spectrum if it is available only for
public safety use. The market is too small.