9/11: The Radio Issue

On the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, it's worth looking at where we are in terms of radio interoperability in New York City and beyond.

The inability of police and fire departments to communicate properly during the response to the attacks on the Twin Towers was cited as a critical issue by the 9/11 Commission.

Which is why I find it somewhat surprising that ensuring better radio communications for first responders isn't more of an urgent issue for the public. The bottom line is that this stuff could help save lives.

New York has started building out a statewide wireless network for first responders now, but that will apparently require some of the 700 MHz statewide wireless network bandwidth due to be auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in January 2008 to really work effectively.

Which likely means that it will be 2009 or 2010 – maybe later – before such a network is running properly. Doesn't decent emergency radio coverage seem like a bit more of a pressing issue than that?

Meanwhile, the FDNY is still having problems with dead spots in the NY subway emergency radio system.

Now, I understand enough about radio to know that you can never ensure 100 percent that there won't be any coverage holes or interference issues. This issue, however, seems important enough to try and get as close to 100 percent as we can.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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