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Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) Information Recently Outlined at Comms Connect.

Presentations at Comms Connect, Sydney recently outlined information on Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB). Ian Miller, ARCIA Executive Director, provides an overview.

“There was a large amount of PSMB information recently shared at Comms Connect, Sydney and this was one of the first opportunities for many people in the industry to begin to understand what is happening in Australia and across the world. TJ Kennedy of FirstNet gave an overview of what is happening in the United States, and there were other presentations that gave an overview of South Korea, the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Government requested the Productivity Commission to investigate the most economic method of delivering a mobile broadband service for our public safety agencies on a ‘First Principles’ basis. A report submitted to the Government in January 2016 outlined that a system operating on the public carriers networks would be the most economical method. In November 2016, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Communications & Arts released a response and requested the Council of Australian Government (CoAG) to look into the requirements and present fully costed options for the supply of a system by the end of 2017.

CoAG then put together a Senior Officials Committee (SOC) to set up the relevant enquiries in each jurisdiction and out of that, a Functional Working Group (FWG) was established earlier this year. The FWG has been charged with looking at the options and reporting back to the SOC and CoAG before the end of 2017. Some of the members of the FWG attended the first International Forum held by FirstNet in Washington in March, plus there was a dedicated meeting with TJ Kennedy during the Sydney Comms Connect conference. At this stage, the FWG are following a similar format to the FirstNet method where they are simply trying to establish a set of requirements that would apply to the PSMB system operational needs and this will then help to determine how such a system might be developed.

One thing that came out of Sydney is that many members of the public safety community feel that they are not part of the discussions at this stage. This is unfortunate as there is involvement from the senior levels of public safety with the FWG, but at present the FWG are concentrating on the development of the overall principles for PSMB and they have to rely on the heads of agencies for stakeholder education. Although there has been no decision to exclude anyone from the discussions, the fact that the FWG members are doing the role in addition to their normal functions means they are under pressure to achieve the goals. Once the FWG has developed a set of requirements and submitted that to the SOC and CoAG there will be (hopefully) an organisational change to see more stakeholder involvement.

If you are concerned then we would suggest that you make enquiries through your own agencies to make contact with the FWG representatives from your state, or contact ARCIA. This is an important exercise to develop the requirements package and ARCIA supports the process as it is going ahead.

We are also confident that out of Comms Connect in Melbourne in November much more information will begin to become available as more international visitors present on developments in other areas of the world.”