Harmonizing Deployable Trunking for Interoperability

Wednesday, August 9, 2023 | 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Charles V. Bryson, NRPC Chair & State of Maryland Dep’t of Info Technology; Michael Baltrotsky, Montgomery County, MD Fire & Rescue Service; David Buchanan; Wes Rogers; Donald Root, APCO International

With 800 MHz trunking being adopted by public safety agencies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some agencies constructed transportable trunking sites to expand their coverage in times of need. These systems were used to augment fixed system coverage and also to provide restoration following disasters.

In 2008, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) filed a petition with the FCC requesting the designation of spectrum from the unassigned reserve channels in the 700 MHz band to create a nationwide pool of frequencies for deployable trunked system use. The need for this frequency pool was based in part on 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that disabled a major radio site in New Orleans, impacting both operability and interoperability for first responders.

In early 2015, following a multiple-step rulemaking process involving numerous 700 MHz issues, the FCC approved six specific 12.5 kHz channel pairs for deployable trunked system use. Following the FCC’s decision, NPSTC and the National Regional Planning Council (NRPC) developed recommended technical, operational, and logistical solutions needed to implement the new deployable systems.  These recommendations were reviewed by the Telecommunications Industry Association’s TR-8 Technical Committee, to make sure the recommendations would comply with the Project 25 Trunked Radio systems standards.  A report listing these recommendations was published by NPSTC and NRPC in 2015.

In 2019, the Deployable Trunked Systems working group issued revised recommendations to adopt revisions that were developed following several real-world deployments.  The report was revised again in August of 2021, following incidents that further showed areas for improvement, including the requirement for encryption when used in certain types of incidents.

Panel participants include NPSTC and NRPC members who have been involved in the development of the report and the real-world deployments leading to the revisions adopted to date.

Submitted by Don Root