Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

By providing public safety users with roaming access to commercial broadband networks on a priority basis, it’s possible to increase the capacity, coverage, and reliability beyond what’s possible with dedicated public safety networks alone. This article quantifies the advantages with respect to capacity, showing that by establishing multiple arrangements with commercial carriers in every locality, public safety can access an amount of capacity that has been projected for very serious emergencies without seriously compromising quality of service for commercial customers. However, this article also demonstrates some of the issues that must be addressed when crafting roaming agreements between public safety and commercial carriers. LTE technology provides a wide range of capabilities to support priority and roaming, but these must be used in accordance with policies and governance structures that have yet to emerge. It must be decided whether priority and resource allocation decisions are made in an automated way or with human intervention, and if the latter, the locus of control. Moreover, agreements must find ways to accommodate significant technical differences in commercial networks, even though they all comply with a common (LTE) standard, and to support changes in technology and needs over the coming years. This will require a single entity with the expertise and authority to bridge public safety stakeholders, commercial carriers, and technical standards bodies.



Published In

Homeland Security Affairs , 9, 13.