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Cross Border Communications Agreement Enhances Public Safety for Canada and U.S.

Date: 2016-07-18
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Excellent News for Public Safety Agencies on Both Sides of the Northern Border

On June 30, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Canada's Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) jointly released documents related to cross border communications. The FCC Public Notice provides guidance to U.S. public safety licensees seeking to: (1) roam into Canada; (2) communicate from the U.S. through base station repeaters in Canada; or (3) host Canadian licensees seeking to communicate through base station repeaters in the U.S. Canada's notice provides guidance to Canadian public safety agencies seeking to place base stations in the U.S.

The FCC Public Notice also provides a path for U.S. public safety agencies to operate on Canadian frequencies used by Canadian first responders, which was previously considered to be an ineligible activity.

This is excellent news for public safety on both sides of the border. The continuing efforts of NPSTC [National Public Safety Telecommunications Council] and CITIG [Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group] supported by DHS's Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) will enhance public safety interoperability in a very tangible manner. "We also want to thank the hard work of the officials with the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau who have worked with Canadian officials for several years to create workable solutions for first responders," said Marilyn Ward, NPSTC Executive Director.

The guidance is based on recent arrangements and understandings reached by FCC staff with officials from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). The licensing guidance applies to any public safety licensee operating a private LMR (PLMR) system in any frequency band authorized under Part 90 of the commission's rules. The Public Notice provides information for three scenarios for cross-border communications.

It is significant to note that regulatory solutions have now been created for all three cross border radio scenarios that were previously identified by U.S. and Canadian first responders. Last year, the FCC and ISED provided regulatory guidance that allows the use of mobile and portable radios at, and across, the international border. This recent agreement provides guidance on the placement and usage of base stations located in Canada to support local public safety operations as well as interoperability.

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via NPSTC, 7/13/16)

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