From the Chief’s Corner: Are We Part of the Problem or the Answer?

Chief Alan PerdueBy Chief Alan Perdue (ret.), SBC Executive Director

Posted on June 27, 2024

This poignant question, originally posed by US pastor Harry Fosdick in a 1936 New York newspaper ad, echoes with significant relevance today. The focus is on the testing and evaluation of in-building radio coverage, ensuring it meets the requirements set by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and Frequency License Holder.

Alarmingly, improper testing methods and equipment are leading to unnecessary installations of Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems (ERCES) in buildings that do not need them. This practice raises several critical issues, from unnecessary costs to building owners and unwanted noise and interference, to violations of US Federal Law 47 CFR Part 90.219, which mandates that signal boosters be used only in areas with weak signals.

If you and your organization are more focused on selling “red boxes” than on genuinely eliminating wireless dead zones inside buildings only where they are truly needed, you are unequivocally part of the problem, not the answer. To those genuinely concerned about proper in-building radio coverage, the message might seem redundant. Yet, it is imperative for us as an industry to begin policing ourselves to stop the madness.

The first step is ensuring that everyone on your staff is not only qualified but also competent. Qualifications may provide the foundation for a job, but competence is the ability to effectively execute the tasks associated with that role. An internal review is crucial to ensure neither you nor your staff are contributing to the problem.

Proper testing to determine if an ERCES is needed requires the right equipment—designed to evaluate signal strength and quality for both uplink and downlink—and regular calibration of this equipment. Equally important is the involvement of the Frequency License Holder in every ERCES installation. Their review of plans, specifications, link budgets, and test results before installation is crucial.

Always think about innovation and continuous improvement. Continually ask the question, how can we solve this issue better with fewer unintended consequences. Don’t be afraid to explore endless possibilities in an effort to solve the problem of in-building coverage.

Finally, identifying and addressing those who do not adhere to the rules is essential. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has procedures to investigate violations and issue penalties. Utilizing these tools can help stop bad behavior by integrators and eliminate unnecessary ERCES installations.

By working together, following the rules, and maintaining a focus on the true issues, we can help resolve this important matter. It comes down to that simple, yet profound question: "Are we part of the problem or the answer?" Let’s all step up our game and honestly make a positive difference. #feelsafeinside




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