Home & Office

Expert: Allocate wireless spectrum for public safety

Governments should provide dedicated spectrum for disasters and day-to-day emergencies, as public spectrum can be congested at times of need, urges Motorola Solutions exec who also oversees public safety spectrum in Europe.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Governments need to allocate wireless spectrum dedicated to public safety in preparation for emergency situations, according to a Motorola Solutions executive.

In a Wednesday interview with ZDNet Asia, Jeppe Jepsen, director of international business relations at Motorola Solutions, likened broadband spectrum for public safety to road shoulders where emergency vehicles can use to bypass traffic congestion. Without a dedicated spectrum, public safety officers will need to rely on public spectrum, which is often not at a mission-critical level and can be congested during times of emergency, he pointed out.

According to Jepsen, increasing demand from network operators for wireless spectrum as well as public safety organizations' lack of skills in lobbying for spectrum make it difficult for these organizations' voices to be heard. But while the auctioning of wireless spectrum to network operators can benefit the economy, authorities should still reserve spectrum for public safety services, said the executive, who is also the Spectrum Group chairman of the Public Safety Communication Europe (PSC-Europe).

Spectrum regulators, he noted, may find it hard to justify allocating dedicated spectrum for disasters as they rarely occur. However, he stressed that it is during that "0.01 percent of time" when such an infrastructure is most needed.

Apart from large-scale disasters, dedicated spectrum can also be used for day-to-day emergencies by fire departments or undercover police for example, he said. By assisting in everyday emergencies, public safety officers will also be able to familiarize the tools they use so the technology becomes "second nature", he said.

James Wong, senior business development manager, government and enterprise solutions, at Motorola Solutions Asia-Pacific, added that wireless spectrum is today a rare resource but the migration of analog television to digital television is expected to free up wireless spectrum. Digital television can be transmitted using cables and will reduce the need for television broadcast, he explained.

Advancement in dedicated spectrum
Over in the United States and Europe, there have been progress made in terms of dedicating spectrum for public safety, said Jepsen.

The U.S. government is already allocating funds to set up a nationwide public safety network, he noted.

For Europe, plans are already in progress but it will take another five years for such a spectrum to be established, predicted Jepsen.

Editorial standards