Public Safety & Homeland Security

Create an Emergency Radio Service...



1. In Public Notice DA 09-2259, the Commission made the following statement: "While the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications, is one of the underlying principles of the amateur service, the amateur service is not an emergency radio service [emphasis added]."

2. No Emergency Radio Service exists in the Commission's Rules and Regulations.

3. In its final report, entitled, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (2004, 283) found that:


“As of September 11, FDNY companies and chiefs responding to a fire used analog, point-to-point radios that had six normal operating channels. Typically, the companies would operate on the same tactical channel, which chiefs on the scene would monitor and use to communicate with the firefighters. Chiefs at a fire operation also would use a separate command channel. Because these point-to-point radios had weak signal strength, communications on them could be heard only by other FDNY personnel in the immediate vicinity. In addition, the FDNY had a dispatch frequency for each of the five boroughs; these were not point-to-point channels and could be monitored from around the city.


The FDNY’s radios performed poorly during the 1993 WTC bombing for two reasons. First, the radios signals often did not succeed in penetrating the numerous steel and concrete floors that separated companies attempting to communicate; and second,so many different companies were attempting to use the same point-to-point channel that communications became unintelligible.”


4. In an academic report, entitled: “Communications Challenges During Incidents of National Significance: A Lesson from Hurricane Katrina,” Lieutenant Colenol Heather K. Meeds (2006, 5) found with respect to telecommunications during that incident:

“Communications were limited at all levels due to infrastructure problems, insufficient interoperability and lack of equipment. This lack of communications kept the media confused about isolated incidents and put them in a position to report misinformation. Lacking access to critical communications assets government and assistance organizations could not dispute media reports or defend their efforts. They had no valid intelligence. In addition, proper response efforts could not be coordinated by local, state or federal agencies during the first two days due to extensive communications failures in the affected areas. This lack of communications led to a slow response, which then led to more misinformation and a protracted chaotic response. The lack of fully operable communications and intelligence increased death, destruction and human suffering.”


5. Even though the 9/11 Commission Report cited communications failures as an aggravating factor with respect to the terrorist attacks on 9/11/'01, LTC Meed (2006, 6) found that local responders, NG (National Guard), and federal agencies could not communicate with each other.

6. In an article for Wired Report, Bruce Schneier (2007) found that there were communications problems among first responders at the scene of the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse as recently as 2007.

7. In the National Advisory Council report to FEMA, Council Chairman Dr. G. Kemble Bennett (2008) found that public-private partnerships were essential in disaster mitigation, response, and relief.

8. Given the foregoing, the Commission's imperative to establish an interoperable communications system was not completely met with the establishment of the 700 MHz public safety service or related actions. This is because the 700 MHz spectrum is not conducive to long-distance propagation such as would be necessary for a hurricane or for penetrating concrete and steel buildings as was the case with the Terrorist Attacks on 9/11/'01. The other frequencies used for emergency communications are scattered piecemeal throughout a variety of radio communications services with their own separate eligibility requirements, technical rules, operating procedures, and regulatory constraints. Therefore, no real public-private interoperability exists and long-range communication is left to government agencies, with the results aforementioned.

9. For these reasons and bases the Commission should immediately adopt rules and regulations creating an Emergency Radio Service which unites various private, public, and commercial radio services during emergencies for the purpose of creating a single nationwide system of local, regional, and long-distance communication service by radio. In so doing, the Commission should consider standards to be met by participants wishing to enter or remain a part of this Emergency Radio Service, the operating procedures to be observed by those authorized in the Emergency Radio Service, and flexible frequencies and technical requirements which allow for maximization of the Emergency Radio Service's responsiveness to impending or actual disasters as well as relief in any aftermath thereof.




10. Pursuant to 47 USC Sections 154(i), 308-309, 318-321, and 606, the Commission has statutory authority to adopt or amend rules and regulations in order to create an Emergency Radio Service together with implementing rules and regulations.

11. The following international treaties, resolutions, agreements, and conventions authorize, even compel the Commission to create an Emergency Radio Service together with implementing rules and regulations...

a. International Radio Telegraph Convention of 1906, Article 9;

b. International Radiotelegraph Convention of 1927, Article 5;

c. Règlement de Service Télégraphique International of 1928, Article 35;

d. General Radiocommunication Regulations of 1932, Article 7;

e. World Administrative Radio Conference of 1979, Resolution 10; and,

f. World Telecommunication Development Conference of 1994, Resolution 7.


12. The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, explicitly requires, that: “(o) Use of communications in safety of life and property... For the purpose of obtaining maximum effectiveness from the use of radio and wire communications in connection with safety of life and property, the Commission shall investigate and study all phases of the problem and the best methods of obtaining the cooperation and coordination of these systems.”


This new radio service foresees station licenses/permittees in the public safety, aviation fixed, maritime, amateur, amateur satellite, CMRS, and broadcast services being ipso facto licensees in the Emergency Radio Service. Radio station operators who had to take and pass an examination could also participate. Through the consolidated license database, licensees volunteer to participate in drills, actual events, and recovery operations.



2 votes
Idea No. 172