SWBCWG Continuing Efforts to Enhance Border Region Interoperability

Author: Southwest Border Communications Working Group (SWBCWG)

The Southwest Border Communications Working Group (SWBCWG) continued efforts to enhance communications operability and interoperability along the Southwest Border Region during an in-person meeting held on September 1st in Phoenix, Arizona.  The meeting focused on building partnerships, identifying best practices and lessons learned for border region communications, and sharing information regarding the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity band plan (a key Federal Communications Commission regulatory issue that impacts public safety communications along the international border). 

Deployable Assets Available Nation-wide

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) provided an overview of their deployable communications support assets. These deployable support assets provide backup communications capabilities in emergency situations and communications support for planned events.  The USCG has two full-time deployable teams on duty which include various technicians and specialists.  Many of the technicians can perform on-the-fly communications device programming and coding, enabling them to provide support across the United States.  The USCG currently has a total of three Mobile Communications Vehicles (MCVs) and two Enhanced Mobile Incident Command Posts (EMICPs).  Some of the capabilities of the MCVs/EMICPs include: 700/800 MHz; unfiltered internet; voice over IP; satellite phones; secure/non-secure video teleconference; conference room space; a generator for self-sustainability; and over-the-air television.

The USCG is interested in working with Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) and other public safety communications practitioners to support upcoming activities and exercises.  For those interested in utilizing USCG’s deployable emergency communications assets to support a training exercise or another planned event, please contact SWBCWG@hq.dhs.gov for more information.  All requests should only state the capability needed, and not specific equipment.  Equipment will be provided based on the operational necessities and availability.

Texas Broadband Activities and Training

Mr. Todd Early, Texas Department of Public Safety, briefed on Texas’s Early Builder Public Safety Broadband Program.  A spectrum management lease agreement between the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and the State of Texas was signed in August 2014.  This three-year agreement includes five key learning conditions: core transition; data analytics; special events; extended mode; and training.

Utilizing this spectrum management lease agreement, Harris County, Texas, deployed the first operational Long-Term Evolution (LTE) based public-safety network using Band 14 spectrum. Currently there are 19 sites operational in Harris County and 18 sites that are in the planning/deployment phase. Once established, these additional 18 sites will complete mobile coverage across the county.  The Brazos County Sheriff’s office is currently a test site for Harris County LTE.  The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office has 64 patrol units equipped with LTE modems.  These units utilize Band 14 for primary data communications, and Verizon’s commercial spectrum as their secondary means of data communications.

Texas’ LTE website, features free LTE/wireless data training courses that are open to the public.  

Support the SWBCWG

To get involved and/or receive regular updates from the SWBCWG, please reach out via email at SWBCWG@hq.dhs.gov.

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