Please see my responses and additional information inline.


Matt Liotta wrote:

Jack Unger wrote:

Probably 90% of public safety organizations' Emergency Communications Plans have made use of ham radio operators for years and continue to make use of hams today.

While a ham could certainly make use of unlicensed spectrum, consumer access points, and best effort internet connections, I would think the vast majority use 2-way radios similar to what they used years before Wi-Fi even existed in the face of an emergency.

It's not a question of using EITHER 2-way radios OR Wi-Fi access points. Hams do use two-way radios, their own very high frequency (VHF) 144-148 MHz and ultra high frequency (UHF) 450-470 MHz repeater networks for local and regional VOICE and low-speed (packet) data coverage and high frequency (HF) 3.5-30 MHz equipment for longer-distance (cross-country) and International VOICE and low-speed data coverage. The new needs today are to be able to transmit and receive data at BROADBAND rates, for example to be able to connect and share high-speed data with existing BROADBAND public safety data networks as well as the Internet. To meet these BROADBAND data needs either license-free Part 15 equipment or Part 15 equipment modified to work under Part 97 (amateur radio regulations) works to meet these broadband data connectivity needs.

The hams that I have met
tend to incorporate new technology in sensible ways as opposed to some folks that believe Wi-Fi is the answer to all.

A police officer isn't a communications expert which is why many police departments and County Offices of Emergency Services fund and support communications teams and vans manned by trained hams, who are communications experts.

Such experts would certainly be able to come up with a better emergency plan.

Agreed, and they have but again, to meet the BROADBAND data needs, low-cost Wi-Fi equipment operated under either Part 15 or Part 97 is a natural solution, both at the emergency scene and to connect the on-scene personnel to the outside world. This is an obvious opportunity for smart WISPs to be involved and to offer to provide network connectivity in times of emergency. For example, I just introduced one local Southern California Police Department to the local WISP that covers the town. After discussions between the PD and the WISP, the Police Department decided to put a Trango CPE on the top of the 40-ft telescoping mast of the new Emergency Communications Command Vehicle (RV-sized). The local WISP agreed to provide connectivity at no charge when the command vehicle is deployed at an emergency scene one or two days every few months. The PD gets backup BROADBAND connectivity that they can afford and the WISP gets a lot of free very good publicity. BTW, the command vehicle will also have a satellite link and 3G connectivity so the WISP connectivity may not be used very often but IT IS THERE if it is needed. For voice connectivity, the command vehicle will contain all the standard voice radio systems. This is what most people would agree is a good communications plan.

The use of unlicensed spectrum is becoming more and more the norm. To consider the use of a consumer access point not as the primary means of communication but as one of the many backup communications options is simply being realistic and practical.

I don't see it as being realistic and practical. I can think of very few circumstances where a little bit of planning wouldn't provide for reliable communications during an emergency.

Again, it's not an either/or situation. Unlicensed spectrum can and does fill a very real broadband communications need for emergency and public safety personnel. Both reliable VOICE and BROADBAND DATA/VIDEO needs exist now. Smart WISPs won't have to think very long before figuring out that there is an important and beneficial role for them to play in meeting their communities emergency communications needs.

I don't want to beat this horse to death (horsey??... horsey??) so I'll sign off now.

In a circumstance where
there is a proper communication plan that fails because the disaster is so great I'm sure the consumer's open access point on a best effort internet connection isn't going to work anyway.

It sure did seem like all the organizations with mobile satellite equipment were communicating just fine in recent disasters. A portable VSAT on a usage plan is quite cheap and very effective.


Jack Unger ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) - President, Ask-Wi.Com, Inc.
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