Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFFRCS)

The Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System RFP was released on October 15, 2008. The Government of Alberta (GOA) is seeking a Vendor to design, construct, implement, operate and maintain for an interim period, a province-wide First Responders two-way radio communications system. The network will replace both the GOA's MDMRS two-way radio system (MDMRS) and the RCMP's current two-way radio system (PACS). It will be based on Project 25 (P25) standards using the 700MHz spectrum.

The network will be completed by 2012 and provide the following coverage:

95% Mobile Coverage on all Alberta Primary Roads, Secondary Roads, Roadways, and railroads.

95% Portable Coverage on Alberta’s Primary Roads, Secondary Roads and Roadways, within Communities.

95% Mobile and Portable Coverage in Specific Locations.

How Does This Impact the Deployment Rural Broadband?
The RFP specifies three types of requirements: Mandatory (M), Desireable (D), and Information (I). If the requirement is not marked as either mandatory or desireable then no action is required by the vendor. Section 3.3.7 provides a network architecture model. The intent of the model is to guide the design of AFRRCS through key guiding principles within the context of the mandatory and desirable requirements. If a conflict exists between the model and the requirements, the mandatory and desirable requirements will take precedence using the following key guiding principles:

1. Existing towers should be utilized where practical.
The AFFRCS network will be constructed using existing and new towers. The new towers will be built and owned by the GOA. The GOA will retain the rights to the new towers for future use.

2. Co-habitation with non-First Responder infrastructure components can physically co-exist if security is maintained by distinct functional separation.
Allows Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) radio equipment to be installed on the towers.

3. Co-mingling with non-First Responder electronic data packets over any media can co-exist if security and reliability is maintained by distinct functional separation.
Allows for the sharing of spectrum with Non-First Responders traffic.

In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

The implementation of the AFRRCS network will have a significant impact on all rural areas if the Alberta government ensures the following:

  • The vendor is required to support open access on both the government and non-government towers.
  • Co-Habitation and Co-Mingling is managed by an independent forum or company.
  • The vendor provides 95% coverage in all areas.
  • Recognize that the counties and municipalities are major stakeholders.

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