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VHF and UHF Radios
Under FAR Part 139, an airport must have an approved Emergency Operations Plan. VHF communications
with the airport tower is done over VHF channels in the aviation band set up by the FCC. Communications
to off-airport parties, such as fire and law enforcement agencies, is done at VHF or UHF frequencies. Again,
these are unsecured transmissions unless supplemental encryption is used.
There are also radio products that are specifically designed to provide interoperability by providing the
capability to operate on multiple frequency bands and/or in multiple modes, such as dual-band radios and
tunable multi-band transceivers. A subscriber can therefore access multiple radio systems. Dual-band radios
are characterized by two transmitters and receivers designed into one (radio) case or two radios with one
control head, with the ability to receive and transmit on frequencies in both bands.
Dual-band radios operate the same as a single band radio with the exception of being able to physically
switch between two distinct bands. Dual-band radios allow the operator to monitor (scan) different
frequency bands, such as VHF and UHF, and then select one or the other band during transmissions.
Interoperability is therefore possible between agencies that utilize frequencies that fall within the range of
the two frequency bands of the dual-band radio. One advantage of this method of interoperability is
maintaining spectrum efficiency by keeping the radio nets separated and only transmitting on the radio net
that is required, unlike cross-banding, which ties nets together and increases radio congestion.
In a typical airport environment, it is common to find multiple users of disparaging radio systems such as
maintenance crews, airlines, and ramp operators.
DHS SAFECOM Program
SAFECOM is the DHS-administered Federal umbrella program designed to foster interoperability among
the nation’s public safety practitioners, so that they may communicate across disciplines and jurisdictions
during an emergency.
SAFECOM is a stakeholder-driven program. The EC is primarily composed of State and local emergency
responders and intergovernmental and national public safety communications associations. OEC develops
policy, guidance, and future initiatives and issues best practices and recommendations. Its current projects
Emergency Data Exchange Language, a practitioner-driven messaging suite of standards designed
to facilitate emergency information sharing and data exchange across local, tribal, state, federal and
non-governmental emergency response and management disciplines.
Multi-Band Radio technology initiatives designed to allow emergency responders to communicate
with partner agencies regardless of the radio band on which they operate.
Project 25, a standards development process for the design, manufacture, and evaluation of
interoperable digital two-way wireless communications products created by and for public safety
Project 25 CAP (Compliance Assessment Program), a voluntary system that facilitates P25
equipment suppliers to formally demonstrate their products’ compliance with a key subset of
requirements in the P25 standards.
Video Quality in Public Safety (VQiPS), a collaborative effort of the OIC, the Institute for
Telecommunication Sciences, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology partnering
with the public safety community to affect change across the range of public safety video
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