Beyond Belief …

Beyond Belief …

I read with amazement, in the October 2016 issue of MissionCritical Communications, the announcement that Potomac Spectrum Partners (PSP) was planning to roll out a nationwide TETRA-based public safety network using Space Data’s 900 MHz spectrum and balloon communications technology. Absolutely amazing; almost beyond belief. 

To satisfy my curiosity, we checked a few things, particularly the statement in the article that the “company [PSP] acquired 800 MHz SMR operators.”  There are only so many SMR operators at 800 MHz, so this assertion seemed to be somewhat of a reach to me. Maybe they bought a few of the licenses that wholesome outfit in the Phoenix area promises retired doctors and family trustees will turn into gold. Perhaps they used a name other than Potomac Spectrum Partners, but a review of the FCC’s ULS revealed no transactions that seem to be consistent with their claim (there are specific license assignment protocols to be followed), and no 800 MHz licenses to be found under Potomac Spectrum Partners. What would be the motivation to use a different name anyway? 

Acquiring 800 MHz licenses would make sense for a TETRA-based system as 25 kHz channel bandwidths are presently mandatory, but there is no way to roll out a nationwide system at 800 MHz. Oh, that’s right, they are first planning to launch a statewide network and another network in a metropolitan area to be named later. Maybe they plan on deploying where they purchased the yet-to-be identified 800 MHz site-specific SMR systems. That would make sense as I’m not positive that there is TETRA equipment type-accepted to operate at 900 MHz, even on Space Data’s spectrum that can accommodate 25 kHz bandwidth technology. Again, to satisfy my curiosity, we will check at the FCC for any 900 MHz TETRA equipment certifications.  

Also, didn’t the FCC have issues with public safety use of TETRA technology unless it is also capable of supporting analog communications for interoperability purposes. I don’t know that the FCC included Space Data’s 900 MHz spectrum in its analysis since it isn’t regulated under Part 90, but presumably their policy concerns will apply to any band. Maybe PCP has resolved all of those pesky regulatory details, or has plans to address them before they begin marketing this concept to the public safety community.  

The strategic system vision is off-the-charts grandiose, what with a plan to incorporate a “TETRA backbone, LTE/5G towers, multiple LMR technologies, seamless smartphone integration, and cloud apps and data, including internet of things.” Whew!  The only thing missing is meteor burst technology. If this all comes to fruition, absolutely this will “be disruptive” within telecom as PSP’s principal has boasted. But if I recall correctly, this is the same entity that, a couple of years back, professed to be providing telecom services to 20,000 plus lumbermen in the Oregon woods. That didn’t work out too well. But this is a step up, a big step up. In fact, for me, beyond belief.