Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FCC meeting on Broadband and Homeland Security: blogger notes

Here are some notes from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Conference at the FCC in Washington today on Aug. 25 (see previous post). The meeting was brought into homes with Cisco Webex, and Vista installed and ran the components easily.

Law enforcement and public safety needs tend to be specific. Many applications are character driven with fixed screens or maps (a concept well known to me from mainframe CICS) so sometimes the actual capacity requirements are small. But specific items need to be available to police officers, such as fingerprints or bio-data, in addition to the typical Motor Vehicle and wanted lists today.

Some of the infrastructure today should be kept on landlines. VHF goes through objects better than UHF and wireless.

Police departments need 100% availability even during catastrophes, so infrastructure backup should be based on satellites, off the planet and away from storms and conflict (although satellites could be vulnerable to solar storms).

An early presentation showed the broadband wireless coverage in Pennsylvania, and noted that there is no coverage in “The Land of the Endless Mountains” and that there are problems with lack of competition.

In the middle of the first session, there was a whimsical comment, “The United States invented the Internet”. At least, there was no mention of Al Gore.

In the second session, a speaker mentioned that the US broadband network is 4 times slower than the rest of the industrialized world.

There was also a question as to whether "network neutrality" would interfere with preferred service for emergency responders. If the term refers only to the Internet, it's not too relevant; if it refers to the entire network infrastructure, managed services are necessary because with absolute neutrality we become "sitting ducks."

The agenda link is in Sunday's post.

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