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Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications. Leveraging State and Local Capabilities Through the Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications. March 29, 2007. Current Topic. FPIC Background and Overview Activities and Accomplishments Federal Partnerships.

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current topic
Current Topic

FPIC Background and Overview

Activities and Accomplishments

Federal Partnerships

The FPIC serves as a coordination body to address technical and operational issues relative to interoperability within the federal wireless communications community
  • Mission—
    • To address federal wireless communications interoperability by fostering intergovernmental cooperation and identifying and leveraging common synergies
  • Goals—
    • Act as communicating agent to federal users about mission critical wireless communications issues and coordinate a unified federal approach
    • Coordinate with member departments and agencies to develop recommendations from a federal perspective to appropriate advisory and regulatory bodies*
    • Identify and enhance wireless communications interoperability capabilities within the Federal Government and coordinate these efforts with ongoing/existing state and local interoperability programs, in coordination with SAFECOM and Grants & Training
  • * Examples include SAFECOM, standards development organizations, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
to achieve the fpic mission and goals the members meet a series of agreed upon objectives
To achieve the FPIC mission and goals, the members meet a series of agreed upon objectives
  • Objectives—
    • Foster partnerships among federal, state, and local agencies that promote the exchange of knowledge and resources among the members;
    • Lead efforts in concert with appropriate agencies in the creation and maintenance of a federal roadmap to achieve wireless communications interoperability across federal departments, bureaus, and agencies;
    • Provide federal user input to organizations addressing state and local interoperability activities (e.g., Grants & Training and SAFECOM) as appropriate;
    • Identify issues and articulate a unified FPIC position relative to the development of standards and specifications (e.g., Project 25 standards development);
    • Identify issues and develop a unified FPIC position relative to security, standards, and spectrum that impact federal interoperability and interaction with state and local agencies; and
    • Serve as the federal wireless communications community’s liaison to industry, periodically obtaining technical updates and equipment reviews from vendors.

Simply stated—the FPIC is the envisioned catalyst for the implementation of priorities raised by the entire federal wireless communications community

the fpic membership consists of 44 federal entities representing more than 200 participants
The FPIC membership consists of 44 federal entities representing more than 200 participants*

* State and local agencies participate as advisory members

FPIC membership is open to federal employees that are involved in or are interested in learning about wireless communications

FPIC participants have experience or responsibilities in the following areas—

Program Managers

Radio Communications Managers

IT and Land Mobile Radio Specialists

Telecommunications Engineers

State and local public safety officials participate as advisory members to bring their relevant expertise and perspective of communications issues

FPIC members may designate a contractor to attend meetings with them or on their behalf if they are unable to regularly attend

Government representatives must complete a contractor authorization form and contractors must sign a non-disclosure agreement before attending meetings

  • Spectrum Managers
  • Security Specialists
  • State Communications Interoperability Coordinators

FPIC encourages federal, state, and local agencies to participate in its activities and to identify interoperability concerns

FPIC provides its members and partners a central point for federal agencies involved in wireless interoperability

FPIC provides a central point of contact for the federal wireless communications community to other organizations—

Advisory and regulatory bodies request input and recommendations reflecting the federal community’s perspective

State Interoperability Executive Committees or similar state councils request federal representation on their committees

State and local interoperability projects request federal participation in their activities

FPIC coordinates federal partnerships with state and local interoperability projects that promote the exchange of knowledge and resources

Joint interoperability projects typically require in-kind contributions such as—



Shared radio sites, and

Operational expertise (e.g., encryption key management, standard operating procedures)

Federal agencies may not be able to contribute all of the necessary portions on their own, but as a whole, FPIC members can negotiate partnerships by leveraging several agencies’ available resources

FPIC is recognized by public safety entities as the representative of federal interoperability needs
  • FPIC is a member of several State Interoperability Executive Committees in—CA, IL, MD, MO, OH, OR, TX, VA, WY
  • Regional FPIC initiatives are underway or planned in Charleston, Phoenix/Mesa, Tampa Bay, Virginia, Wyoming, Oregon, and the Gulf Coast

Existing FPIC Partnerships

Advisory Members to FPIC

  • In addition to state and regional relationships, the FPIC represents federal interoperability needs at nationwide public safety groups—
    • Association of Public Safety Officials-International (APCO)
    • National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC)

Federal Representative on State Council

On-going FPIC Initiatives

Planned FPIC Initiatives

current topic9
Current Topic

FPIC Background and Overview

Activities and Accomplishments

Federal Partnerships

FPIC Interoperability Demonstration Projects further FPIC goals to identify and enhance wireless communications interoperability

The FPIC sponsors regional communications working groups to provide guidance within specific geographical areas

Charleston Communications Working Group

Gulf Coast Communications Working Group (planned)

The FPIC supports interoperability assistance projects by identifying available spectrum, collecting requirements, procuring equipment, addressing policy issues, and collaborating agreements among federal, state, and local agencies

Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona

Tampa Bay, Florida




These projects will establish technical interoperability models, adapt policy to better facilitate interoperability, and allow federal users access to statewide systems

fpic is an active participant in the project 25 standards process
FPIC is an active participant in the Project 25 standards process

The FPIC acts as the representative group of a significant segment of the federal users that has been able to provide much needed federal input into the standards development process

Fills one of three federal representative positions on the P25 Steering Committee

Sent user representatives to the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) facility in Boulder, Colorado, to conduct vocoder testing in partnership with SAFECOM

Successfully petitioned the P25 Steering Committee to put the Console Interface and Fixed-Station Interface on the same priority level as the Inter Sub-Systems Interface, which was at the forefront of the standards development efforts

Actively leading the P25 Compliance Assessment Process and Procedure Task Group (CAPPTG) that is developing conformance and interoperability tests for P25 standards, in close collaboration with SAFECOM, ITS, and NIST–Office of Law Enforcement Standards

Recognized as the user authority on encryption, FPIC identified interoperability issues and recommended improvements for over-the-air rekeying (OTAR) and key management to revise the standards

FPIC provides recommendations to outside entities and educates public safety in spectrum and security-related issues

Within Spectrum Policy, the FPIC makes recommendations to the FCC and NTIA on issues effecting the federal wireless community

Filed comments to FCC WT Docket 05-157, representing the federal agency needs for additional federal, state, and local shared interoperable broadband public safety spectrum in the upper 700 MHz band

The FPIC comments were vital in articulating future interoperable spectrum needs for its membership, and were included in the December 2005 FCC Report to Congress

Informed federal and non-federal users of the impact of the mandated transition from data encryption standard (DES) and to advanced encryption standard (AES)

Submitted a letter to NIST that detailed the cost of this transition and recommended that the transition timeline be moved to coincide with the existing narrowband conversion timetable

Drafted an advisory letter for the state and local public safety community at their request to ensure that this information is factored in when planning upgrades and new procurements

current topic13
Current Topic

FPIC Background and Overview

Activities and Accomplishments

Federal Partnerships

fpic entities are major users on the alaska land mobile radio almr system
FPIC entities are major users on the Alaska Land Mobile Radio (ALMR) System
  • The State of Alaska, Alaska Municipal League, Department of Defense, and FPIC members have partnered to—
    • Create a cooperative partnership across federal, state, and local jurisdictions
    • Build and operate an interoperable trunked radio system
    • Enhance personnel safety and operational capabilities
    • Plan a phased implementation: Highway system, Southeast and Kodiak, and rural areas
    • Cost share infrastructure cost among the federal, state, and local governments
    • Educate the legislature and key state government policy-makers to gain strong support and funding
  • The ALMR system employs a single, shared-infrastructure and spectrum-sharing scheme that makes it available to all federal, state, and local public safety users
almr rollout schedule
ALMR Rollout Schedule

ALMR Schedule provided by the ALMR website (

fpic entities are teaming with montana to gain access to the statewide system
FPIC entities are teaming with Montana to gain access to the statewide system
  • The FPIC is partnering with the Interoperability Montana Project, which is implementing a statewide, hybrid, VHF, Project 25-compliant system
    • The State of Montana’s 10 consortia will lead and set the priority of deployment within each consortium’s area of responsibility
    • Infrastructure and subscriber units will be upgraded in a phased approached
    • Centralized project management will address frequency and encryption key planning
  • The Department of the Interior has signed a memorandum of understanding
interoperability montana project
Interoperability Montana Project

Interoperability Montana (IM) system map provided by the IM website (

fpic entities have partnered with south dakota on its statewide vhf radio system
FPIC entities have partnered with South Dakota on its statewide, VHF, radio system
  • In a state that covers an area of 77,121 square miles and has a population of fewer than 800,000 residents, South Dakota has implemented a statewide, VHF radio system (In the process of upgrading to a full Project 25-compliant trunking system)
    • Links more than 10,000 firefighters, law enforcement officials, emergency medical personnel, transportation providers, and federal public safety officials
    • Serves hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, and ambulances
    • Provides 96% mobile and 70% portable coverage through more than 50 sites
  • Federal agencies are purchasing new or modifying existing equipment to access the South Dakota system
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation/U.S. Marshals Service
    • Federal Fish and Wildlife (enforcement units)
    • Bureau of Land Management (enforcement units)
    • National Park Service (fire units)
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs (enforcement units)
    • Department of Defense (Ellsworth Air Force Base security units)
    • Army Corps of Engineers (security personnel)
south dakota coverage map
South Dakota Coverage Map

South Dakota mobile statewide coverage map provided by the South Dakota website (

FPIC entities are teamed with the State of Wyoming’s WyoLink, the statewide, VHF, Project 25-compliant system
  • The State of Wyoming, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Interior, and other FPIC members have joined forces to—
    • Leverage federal spectrum, radio sites, and existing infrastructure
    • Provide statewide coverage that would only be minimally covered by stovepipe systems
    • Implement conventional repeaters to support communications with out-of-area agencies
  • Federal agencies are purchasing new or modifying existing equipment to access the WyoLink system
    • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
    • Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Transportation Security Administration
    • U.S. Secret Service
  • Benefits of partnering on statewide systems include—
    • Sharing resources across agencies
    • Providing built-in interoperability with participants
    • Reducing the costs for individual system implementation and operation
wyolink and federal agency comparative coverage
WyoLink and Federal Agency Comparative Coverage

WyoLink mobile statewide coverage provided by the WyoLink website (

Federal agencies are partnering with state systems, including 800 MHz systems, to take advantage of partnership benefits
  • Typically, federal agencies decide whether to operate on a state system for interoperability purposes only or use the system for primary communications
  • The Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming systems are all VHF, the primary frequency band of federal agencies, therefore it’s an easy decision for federal agencies to partner when they can use existing equipment or purchase equipment they intend to buy for use on their agency systems
  • However, federal agencies have recognized that some state and regional 800 MHz systems provide improved coverage and enhanced interoperability capabilities as compared to their VHF system, so they adopt the 800 MHz systems for primary use
    • In some instances, federal agencies can negotiate special use agreements and dedicated talk groups on a state system
    • In addition, federal agencies can still use their VHF radios for encryption or operability with other federal VHF agencies
In summary, the FPIC encourages public safety agencies to partner and share resources for common good
  • Federal agencies are recognizing the benefits of partnering with state and regional efforts to include—
    • Leveraging existing resources in a shared environment
    • Realizing built-in interoperability with participants
    • Choosing cost efficient solutions
  • FPIC will continue to—
    • Identify and support federal, state, and local partnerships and interoperability activities
    • Negotiate win-win solutions for agencies to share resources
    • Promote Project 25 standards development and standards-based architectures
For additional information or to join the FPIC, please contact—

Jim Downes

Chair, Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications (FPIC)


[email protected]

Sandy McNulty

FPIC Program Support


[email protected]

fpic supports the acceptance of p25 standard radio equipment
FPIC supports the acceptance of P25 standard radio equipment

Definition: P25 is a collection of documents standardizing common interfaces between equipment in an LMR system

  • P25 is the only user-defined set of standards in the United States for LMR systems
  • P25 is the result of an unprecedented partnership between industry and the public safety user community
  • Many federal agencies (e.g., DHS, DOD, DOI, DOJ) have adopted P25 standards and are procuring standards based equipment
Moving forward, public safety agencies will continue to adopt the P25 standard for its many advantages
  • P25 standards provide—
    • Compatibility between equipment from different manufacturers with older legacy systems
    • Enhanced interoperable radios that support mutual-aid channels and roaming
    • Dynamic system growth or contraction for trunked and conventional systems
    • A more spectrally efficient system that can support more users in the same amount of spectrum
    • Continued availability of direct unit-to-unit communications