The Internet, having displaced conventional correspondence with email, having displaced traditional libraries with online ones, having revolutionized shopping, having uprooted television and movies, now is absorbing police, fire, ambulance, and public utility two-radio systems.
Digital radio technologies combine with Internet switching of transmitters, receivers, and networks, so that a police officer can talk to an ambulance driver or a train dispatcher across the state or across the country. Specialized cellphones are becoming indistinguishable from walkie-talkies. Cellular telephone channels replace two-way-radio air links.
Integration of “private mobile radio” into the Internet is the result of specific advances in radio and networking technology that now draw Congressional approval in FirstNet, which provides a framework for writing the specifications and selecting the vendors for a new first-responder network that ensures interoperability.
This is occurring as the public switched telephone system converges with the Internet, so that the two no longer are separate or reflect different architectures.
Public officials and stakeholders must be vigilant to ensure that this initiative does not unduly limit competition in the equipment market or impair ordinary civilian uses of the communications infrastructure.