In efforts to achieve compatibility of mobile communications systems among public-safety agencies, several manufacturers contributing to the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International Inc.’s Project 25 have encountered communication snags of their own.

Motorola Inc.’s Land Mobile Sector and E.F. Johnson Co. signed a joint licensing agreement for digital radio technology to be used in Project 25. However, Ericsson GE questions whether the two companies are able to bring product to market without Ericsson GE’s involvement.

The agreement gives E.F. Johnson technology rights to Motorola’s Astro and APCO’s Project 25 digital radio products, which include hardware and software technologies for mobile and portable radios, infrastructure and systems, including trunking.

Paramount to the agreement is Project 25, initiated by APCO to create a common air interface for public-safety agencies that will allow them to communicate with one another. Along with establishing compatibility among different public-safety agencies, the project deems to use spectrum-efficient technology and encourage competition among digital equipment manufacturers.

“This is what Project 25 is all about. Having major manufacturers agree to produce an efficient product that meets the need of both the public-safety communities’ operational requirements and the (Federal Communications Commission) demand that we become more spectrally efficient,” said Joe McNeil, second vice president of APCO.

BK Radio (formerly Bendix-King), Stanilite and Transcrypt International also plan to manufacture products for Project 25.

Although Motorola has entered into licensing contracts with other equipment manufacturers concerning the project, the E.F. Johnson arrangement is a “broader agreement which includes intellectual property rights,” explained Scott Papillon, manager of public relations at E.F. Johnson. Currently, only E.F. Johnson has full rights to Motorola’s radio projects, including computer software and analog technology systems, he explained. “I don’t know if people realize…this agreement is a very big deal for us.”

However, the announcement of the licensing agreement came as a surprise to Ericsson GE Mobile Communications Inc., which also is involved in Project 25.

According to David McCartney, Ericsson GE’s manager of public safety, the company questions the purpose of the announcement. “The fact that Ericsson GE has yet to be approached on the matter raises a key question: Are the four announced manufacturers serious about their … intention to build competitive products?” questioned the company. “Or are they merely acquiescing to pressure from Motorola, which is itself under pressure to show that multi-source procurement for Project 25 radios is a reality?”

McCartney contends that Ericsson holds two of the four intellectual property rights needed for building the Project 25 common air interface.

APCO has not studied Ericsson GE’s claims, said APCO President Steven Proctor and Project 25 Steering Committee Coordinator Craig Jorgensen. The association said Ericsson GE’s claims would have to be settled by companies involved in the memorandum of understanding.

According to Wayne Leland, vice president of Motorola’s Land Mobile Sector, Motorola has asked Ericsson GE about its terms for using the two IPRs Ericsson GE has specified. “Whether Ericsson GE holds patent rights or not has nothing to do with our agreement with E.F. Johnson. No matter what happens in the marketplace, customers will have multiple choices to select from,” Leland continued.

Disagreement over which access technology is best-suited for Project 25 is a key issue that has divided manufacturers. APCO chose Frequency Division Multiple Access as the technology standard for Project 25, according to Project 25 coordinator Ali Shahnami, because it allows for private conversation among parties without a repeater, is best-suited for small systems-offering better migration characteristics-and provides the most efficient use of spectrum while many municipalities still use analog systems.

Ericsson GE contends TDMA is the best technology choice for a public-safety common air interface for a number of reasons.

TDMA, according to McCartney, is spectrally efficient. Only TDMA is capable of dispatching information from the National Crime Information Center’s new NCIC 2000 criminal database to local law enforcement agencies, McCartney added. Also, FDMA will soon be outdated and has higher equipment costs than TDMA, Ericsson noted.

“Motorola is capable of providing TDMA, FDMA and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), depending upon the frequency bands and customer application. APCO made the decision to use FDMA for APCO Project 25 and Motorola is providing technology in support of that decision,” commented Leland.

APCO’s Jorgensen and Proctor said all of the project’s standards “are supported by numerous city, county, state and federal organizations, including the FBI. Since the proposed NCIC 2000 requirements have yet to be completed, it is perhaps presumptuous to assume what technologies will or will not be needed.”

APCO’s recent Project 25 document summary has listed 35 tasks, of which 14 are listed “done” with 11 estimated to be completed this month. The entire project is expected to be finished in 1996, according to Proctor and Jorgensen.


Editorial Reports

White Papers


Featured Content