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FRIDAY - JUNE 30, 2006 - ISSUE NO. 218

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Wireless Messaging Newsletter
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katrina 1katrina 2


Subject: RE: draft of comments to FCC on Katrina report!!!
Date: June 29, 2006 3:15:49 PM CDT

Interstate Wireless, Inc.
d/b/a  Handy Page
841 West Fairmont Drive, Suite 5
Tempe, AZ  85282-3331
Voice: 480-350-9400
Fax: 480-350-9494
27 June 2006

Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C.
Hurricane Katrina Panel Recommendations
EB Docket No. 06-119  NPRM Comments

In response to the report from the Hurricane Katrina Panel, we have comments and suggestions in Two (2) areas that the Panel has cited in their report.

1. The need for better Emergency Alerts to the General population:

Currently the General Populace is receiving Emergency alerts primarily by way of Radio, TV and Cable systems over the EAS system.  The major drawback there is that the Public HAS to be watching or listening to that station to get the EAS information.  And only the AM and FM EAS would provide an alert if the person is mobile.

There is the thought that using the Cellular phone network to put out EAS, SMS or other types of Alerting will solve this problem.  There are several drawbacks to that thought because Cellular systems currently cannot Simulcast, or Multi-cast a message to many users at once.  The Cellular lobby has stated that if the Government gives them lots of grant money that they might be able to make that type of system work.  They are also looking into what ways they can then charge the Government for using the new system to send out each Emergency Alert message. 

Then there are the drawbacks of Cellular handsets that need to be re-charged daily, putting them in a standby or off mode, mostly at night, Cellular coverage in rural areas can be spotty, and the SMS service provides only short content messages.

There is however, currently a service that is available throughout a majority of the United States that ALREADY has the capability to provide Instantaneous Emergency Alerts to Thousands of people, all at once, and that is “PAGING”.

Paging systems use Simulcast and multiple sites to provide coverage, thereby providing transmitter redundancy and wide areas of coverage.   Most Paging systems are licensed for and use higher transmitted power to cover into dense structures.

There are currently hundreds of Paging systems licensed and in operation in the United States, with their services covering areas that cellular, broadcast, and other means of alerts do not cover.

Using a single Group Call code, a single short message or multiple long messages can be Multi-cast to thousands of Paging receiver units, all at once within seconds or minutes.

Paging receivers are small and mobile and go where a person goes, they use batteries that last months, not hours.  They don’t need re-charging.   They use a common available battery, which is small enough that you could easily carry a spare if you need to.  They are silent until needed.  They have capabilities for a Handicapped person to receive alerts, such as vibrator and blinking light alerts.  They can provide LARGE amounts of information all at one time, and will save it for any future reference.   Even a small, mobile, alert unit could be manufactured, (see attached photo image), to scan all active area Paging systems and receive Alerts and Information for the average homeowner to use.

What is needed to harness and use this existing capability, IMMEDIATELY ???

Just provide a means for the current Paging systems to receive EAS or something similar. Installing an EAS receiver and satellite dish at the location of the Paging system’s main terminal unit would allow the system to transmit National, Statewide, or Local Emergency information on that system.  The EAS system would need to be able to provide the Alert information in a “data” type format for resending on the Paging system.

2. Provide a means to UPGRADE the nation’s existing Paging systems.

In the Katrina report, it was noted that one means of communications worked well, and that was 2-way PAGING.  With the latest sets of mergers in the Paging Industry several of the existing 2-way Paging channels have been turned off, and stored away from competitors.

The 2 way Paging service should be expanded  !!!

Why not help the current 1-way Paging systems upgrade their systems to a 2-way Paging and Messaging service.   All that would be needed to start this process is to provide a frequency for the One way Paging systems to use as a “Talk back” channel for the Paging user’s 2-way pager unit.   The availability of additional 2-way Paging systems would go a long way to providing the General Public, and Public Safety users with much needed mobile communications and information capability, especially during emergency situations.

How the Government can help ???

The Government might be interested to find that most operators of the Nations 1-way Paging systems would be willing to purchase and install EAS equipment on their systems, and broadcast Emergency Alerts, at no charge to the General Public, in exchange, for the Government providing them a 2-way “Talk Back” channel and allowing them to UPGRADE their current systems to 2-way Paging capability.    

This would be a Win-Win situation for the entire Nation, by advancing Homeland Security with the immediate capability of providing Emergency Alerts to the General Populace, and also getting the additional capabilities of working 2-way Paging and Messaging systems.

Wayne Markis
Interstate Wireless, Inc.
Handy Page


(attached photo of an example of a Home Alerting unit)

Subject: I have a question.
Date: June 23, 2006 12:44:58 PM CDT


I have a question. With FCC calling on comments is this maybe an opportunity for the paging industry to make a call for Motorola "use it or lose it" with regards to the GOLAY paging protocol??? Motorola make GOLAY pagers or allow another manufacturer to make GOLAY pagers.

I know that GOLAY is an old slow protocol but our City Public Safety paging users love GOLAY because its rock solid and the "Carbon Copy" feature is great. We have our own paging system and around 5000 pagers here in San Diego most of which are GOLAY. Can't get new GOLAY pagers!!!! A couple of years ago we upgraded our Public Safety paging network to newer and more reliable infrastructure. Our throughput and reliability is virtually 100% with GOLAY. We are able to use POCSAG but the reliability of POCSAG is not as good. We decided to continue to use GOLAY because it was so rock solid and that's what you need with Public Safety.

Sorry if I sound old fashioned!!!!

But what I'd like to see is the FCC say to Motorola do something at least in the interest of Public Safety.

My thoughts!! Great newsletter,



Associate Communications Engineer
Information Technology & Communications
City of San Diego
1220 Caminito Centro MS23
San Diego, CA 92102-1801
Phone: (619) 525-8582
Cell: (619) 980 1807

Subject: from the newsletter
Date: June 23, 2006 12:39:38 AM CDT

Just thought I would let you know I do enjoy your newsletter.

I surely wish one of the pager vendors would make an alphanumeric and voice pager that has the alert volume of a Motorola Minitor. The fire service keeps asking for that, but we have given up, I suspect.

John Doering
Dunlap, IL


JUNE 29, 2006

The Day the Internet Died

In the classic Sci-Fi movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the terrestrial world ground to a halt when a visitor from beyond our solar system shut down electrically powered devices around the world. This black-and-white flick from 1951 might seem downright quaint in comparison to today's Cineplex offerings, but the notion that all electronic devices tied to the Internet could be forced to a halt is nothing to smile about.

"If our nation is hit by a cyber Katrina that wipes out large parts of the Internet, there is no coordinated plan in place to restart and restore the Internet," noted John J. Castellani, the president of a recent business roundtable.

Suddenly, the notion of caching some of my favorite Web sites no longer seems like a wasteful way to employ my unused hard disk space.

The potential threats that might be lurking just beyond the Internet's event horizon need not be as exotic as flying saucers. In theory, hackers, terrorists, or natural disasters impacting essential infrastructure components could cause a global Internet meltdown that would push the whole world into massive recession.

To its credit, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has considered that possibility, and has even conducted a mock Internet attack to see what steps might possibly be taken in response to various threat scenarios. And there is now a National Cyber Response Coordination Group (NCRCG) in place that represents another step in the right direction.

But if we rewind back to the Y2K preparations that were made to protect computing systems at the turn of the millennium, what governments both here and abroad are dong right now to protect the Internet seems pitifully inadequate. The U.S., for example, invests a mere $70 million per year in Internet programs. Of those millions, only a miniscule amount is dedicated to emergency-response efforts.

Being prepared is not just about governments investing more money. Big companies are being advised to work together to prepare for a coordinated response to a possible Internet meltdown — and that's all to the good. But having an emergency-warning system in place is also a good idea. Such a program would function as the cyberspace equivalent to the tsunami-alert system recently implemented in southern Asia.

On the other hand, having an early-warning system — in and of itself — would be fruitless unless we are prepared to respond to the actual threat. What really causes me to break out in a cold sweat is the prospect of governments around the world suddenly being called upon to respond quickly and in a coordinated fashion — something they have demonstrated time and time again the inability to achieve — to a massive Internet disaster.

Source: POSTED BY Mark Long @ 02:05 pm


Tsunami warning system up and running

Thursday 29 June 2006 15:05

A tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean is now up and running, UNESCO announced yesterday.

The warning system can send warning signals from 25 seismographic stations and three deep ocean sensors to 26 national tsunami information centres across the region.

It is put into effect 18 months after the tsunami of December 2004, which in the absence of any warnings, killed 200,000 people in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri-Lanka and Somalia.

Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of UNESCO, warned, however, that the system would be ineffective without improved emergency response procedures in the participating countries.

Since tsunamis travel at up to 1000 km/h in open water the time to respond with a coordinated evacuation is very limited.

In the Pacific Ocean there has been a warning system since 1949 and, according to the BBC, more systems are planned for the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean.

Source: jurnalo

Asia tsunami warning system ready

Most had no warning of the 2004 tsunami until giant waves appeared

Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK

A tsunami warning system covering the Indian Ocean region is now "up and running", Unesco has said.

The UN organisation, which has overseen the project, says the whole region can now receive and distribute warnings of possible tsunamis.

The system is in place 18 months after the devastating tsunami of December 2004 that killed more than 200,000.

The Pacific region has had a system for 40 years and others are planned for the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Work unfinished

Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the UN's scientific and cultural organisation, said the nations involved should be "justly proud of having done all this and much more".

The UN says people must know what to do when warned

There are 26 national tsunami information centres receiving information from 25 new seismographic stations.

There are also three deep-ocean sensors to detect and report tsunamis.

But Mr Matsuura warned the work was not yet finished.

He said the system would suffer if there was no coordination between the different nations.

"The open and free exchange of data and the full interoperability of national systems is absolutely crucial for success," he said.

Mr Matsuura also said that even a 100% successful warning system would be ineffective "if people do not know how to respond to the emergency."

The system is being overseen by Unesco's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

A massive earthquake beneath the ocean on 26 December 2004 sent giant waves crashing ashore in places as far apart as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Somalia.

The only warning most people had was the sight of the waves heading towards them. About 1.5 million people were left homeless in the region after the wall of water stripped away trees, houses and whole communities.

Reconstruction could take between five years and a decade.

Source: BBC News

High-Risk U.S. Coastal Areas Not Prepared for Tsunami

WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2006 (ENS) — The federal government needs better information about the likely impacts of a tsunami in the highest risk areas of the country, according to a new report by the investigative arm of Congress.

The high risk areas are the Pacific coast states of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at lower risk for this hazard.

The Government Accountability Organization (GAO) prepared the report in response to a request by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. It was presented to her and to Congressional committees this week.

A tsunami is a series of ocean waves generated by sudden displacements in the sea floor, landslides, or volcanic activity. In the deep ocean, the tsunami wave may only be a few inches high. The tsunami wave may come gently ashore or may increase in height to become a fast moving wall of turbulent water several meters high.

The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami raised questions about U.S. preparedness for such an event.

Although a tsunami cannot be prevented, the impact of a tsunami can be mitigated through community preparedness, timely warnings, and effective response.

Most of the states and some communities GAO visited have basic mitigation plans identifying tsunami hazards, but false alarms and technical limitations hamper the effectiveness of emergency warning systems.

The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004 resulted in a total of 229,866 persons lost, including 186,983 dead and 42,883 missing. This photo was taken as the wave came ashore in Thailand. (Photo courtesy David Rydevik)

GAO recommends that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) take steps to develop software for tsunami loss estimation, conduct periodic end-to-end warning system tests, increase high-risk community participation in its tsunami preparedness program, and prepare risk-based strategic plans for its efforts.


NOAA officials reviewed a draft of this report and generally agreed with the findings and recommendations.

Some coastal areas lack inundation maps showing the potential extent of tsunami flooding in communities, and others have maps that may be unreliable.

State assessments of likely tsunami impacts on people and infrastructure have been limited due to a lack of tsunami loss estimation software, which exists for floods and other hazards.

The GAO said federal warning centers quickly detect potential tsunamis and issue warnings, but false alarms are a problem. Some state and local emergency managers have raised concerns about false alarms - the 16 warnings issued since 1982 were not followed by destructive tsunamis on U.S. shores - potentially causing citizens to ignore future warnings.

The GEO found that limitations in the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards may impede timely warnings to communities. For example, signal coverage for these two systems is insufficient to transmit warnings to some coastal areas and failure to properly activate them has resulted in warnings being delayed or not transmitted to some locations.

NOAA has begun addressing false alarms but, according to agency officials, has only conducted "live" end-to-end testing of the warning systems in Alaska to identify problems, lacking the states' permission elsewhere.

The at-risk communities GAO visited have mitigated potential tsunami impacts through planning, warning system improvements, public education, and infrastructure protection, but the level of implementation varies considerably by location.

While all of these locations have multiple warning mechanisms in place, disruptions to key infrastructure such as telephone lines may hamper timely warnings, the GAO investigators wrote in their report.

Key educational efforts, such as distributing evacuation maps and developing school curricula have not been consistently implemented.

Few states and communities protect critical infrastructure from tsunamis through land-use and building design restrictions, the GAO found.

Emergency managers attributed variability in their efforts to the need to focus on more frequent hazards like wildfires and to funding limitations. Few communities participate in NOAA's preparedness program, according to NOAA officials, because they perceive the threat of a tsunami to be low.

The nationwide expansion of NOAA's tsunami activities is under way, but the GAO says the future direction of these efforts is uncertain because they lack long range strategic plans.

NOAA has yet to identify long range goals, establish risk-based priorities, and define performance measures to assess whether its tsunami-related efforts are achieving the desired results.

NOAA leads U.S. detection and warning efforts and partners with federal and state agencies in the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program to reduce tsunami risks. In 2005, Congress appropriated $17.24 million in supplemental funding towards these efforts.

Find out more about tsunami preparedness at: and at:

Source: Environment News Service


ARES/RACES Teams Continue Flood Duty in Middle Atlantic States

races arrlNEWINGTON, CT, Jun 29, 2006 — Amateur Radio volunteers continue to support communication or remain on alert to assist relief organizations and local emergency managers in flood-stricken regions of the Eastern US. Widespread flooding in several states has claimed at least a dozen lives, and more rain was forecast for some regions. ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania PIO Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO, says ham radio volunteers in 10 counties in his Section are actively helping local law enforcement, emergency management agencies and the Red Cross, which set up about a dozen evacuation centers.

"Hams in some areas may be on duty for several days as river levels slowly drop below flood stage," Josuweit told ARRL. The Delaware River — which separates New Jersey and Pennsylvania — was expected to crest today. The Susquehanna River crested June 28, however, and emergency operations in Pennsylvania have been shifted to Harrisburg, the state capital.

Evacuation Order Lifted

A mandatory evacuation order affecting some 200,000 residents of the Wilkes Barre area in Luzerne County was lifted today. Josuweit reports that the Susquehanna crested at nearly 34 feet in the area, 12 feet above flood stage for that area. "In areas where the water has already receded, many utilities are still out of service and local officials are advising residents to stay away from the their homes until at least Saturday," Josuweit said.

ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section Emergency Coordinator Al Rabenau, W3AHR, says the Schuylkill River has crested and is now receding. He reports that Bucks County ARES has been on alert status since June 28. Members have established a VHF repeater net and are staffing several shelters and flood-watch stations.

"They operated through last night and are still in the field at this time, expecting to be released this afternoon," Rabenau said June 29. He says flooding of roadways, homes and businesses along Brandywine Creek, Red Clay Creek and other waterways has been handled by the respective emergency management agencies.

Crossing the Delaware

Due to topography, flooding along the Delaware typically is worst in Bucks County and in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. ARRL Hunterdon County District Emergency Coordinator David Kanitra, WB2AZE, this week placed Hunterdon ARES on a Level 1 alert for possible deployment to assist RACES in Hunterdon County.

In Mercer County, New Jersey, Emergency Coordinator Kip Burnett, KB2EGI, reports his ARES/RACES team is still on standby but is keeping a volunteer at W2MER, the ARES/RACES station at the Mercer County Office of Emergency Management's emergency operations center. ARES/RACES personnel at the EOC have been monitoring river levels in anticipating that the Delaware will crest this afternoon.

"The flooding amount is basically a repeat of the October 2004 and April 2005 floods, so the officials are just evacuating the same locations — an area called 'The Island' — in Trenton and parts of Titusville," Burnett reports. Conventional communication systems remain intact, however.

Western New York Residents Evacuated

In Binghamton, New York, and surrounding Broome County authorities ordered the evacuation of some 15,000 residents as the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers overflowed their banks, putting some neighborhoods under several feet of water. Parts of Interstates 81 and 88 as well as State Route 17 were closed.

The evacuation reportedly included at least one hospital in Binghamton, and the rivers there have not yet crested.

Flooding Disrupts Field Day in Delaware

In Delaware last weekend, Justin Kates, KB3JUV, of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) says ARES volunteers diverted their attention from Field Day and got ready to support communication in the wake of flooding in Sussex County. "Some areas in Sussex received 15 inches of rain from the stalled weather system," Kates told ARRL. "Emergency management had a difficult time providing road and medical crews to the affected areas due to the high water." The weather event also disrupted conventional communication systems, Kates says. While formal activation was unnecessary, Amateur Radio volunteers remained poised to supply any needed communication assistance.

The National Weather Service requested that Delaware SKYWARN be activated, however, and volunteers on frequency relayed reports on rainfall as well as road and highway reports. "Some operators were mobile in the affected areas giving NWS important reports," Kates noted. "Thanks to the NWS, messages were relayed to the Sussex Emergency Operations Center, making this a full circle of information-sharing." Upward of a dozen Amateur Radio volunteers took part in the event.

Source: ARRL


That's all for this week folks. Please share any pertinent wireless news that you hear or read.

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With best regards,
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Brad Dye
Wireless Messaging Consultant

P.O. Box 266
Fairfield, IL 62837 USA

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