As public safety organizations and government agencies evaluate their mission-critical, narrowband two-way radio system needs for the future, many practitioners and operators are reaching similar conclusions:
- Radio spectrum is becoming more congested
- Systems require increased voice and data functionality
- Improved voice quality is essential over extended coverage areas
- Secure communications is a growing necessity
- Equipment migration must be feasible
- Users primarily include public safety, but may include others
- Independent assessment of equipment compliance is needed
- Interoperability has become critical to achieve
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials - International, Inc. (APCO International) is committed to making the selection process easier through APCO Project 25 (P25), a long-standing partnership between the public safety communications community and industry manufacturers whose goal is to satisfy the complex and evolving mission-critical communication needs of users for interoperable, narrowband Land Mobile Radio (LMR) equipment and systems.
To accomplish this vital goal, users and manufacturers participating in the P25 process develop voluntary, consensus communications standards under the auspices of American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The P25 process (1) focuses on the practical realization of the significant benefits inherent to digital radio communications technologies and (2) promotes the competitive offering of compliant P25 equipment and systems for effective use by a highly diverse user community on a worldwide basis. Project 25 is unique in that it is an open, user-driven standardization process, with technical and operational requirements established through the participation of its stakeholders, including public safety practitioners from different countries representing different levels of government. The standards published by TIA establish the basis upon which:
- Manufacturers develop, implement, and competitively offer P25 equipment and systems.
- Recognized laboratories conduct P25 compliance testing.
- Users specify, procure, and operate P25 radios and communications infrastructure.
APCO Project 25 User Needs Subcommittee
The Project 25 User Needs Subcommittee (P25 UNS) is a subcommittee of the Project 25 Steering Committee, which establishes the priorities and scope for technical development by TIA of new and revised P25 standards. The P25 UNS is responsible for maintaining the APCO Project 25 Statement of Requirements (P25 SoR) that:
- Plays an essential role in not only developing standards that meet users' needs but also establishes the basis upon which equipment and systems can be assessed as being compliant with the P25 standards.
- Establishes a feasible migration path for P25 equipment and systems to take advantage of emerging technologies.
- Establishes a balance between user needs and what industry is able to implement based on current physical, technological, and regulatory constraints.
The currently approved APCO P25 SoR is dated March 3, 2010. The P25 UNS continues to actively update the P25 SoR based on requirements needs established by the users.