Los Angeles County board supervisors yesterday approved a 63-site “corrective action plan” (CAP) that Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) officials have proposed to revive the suspended public-safety LTE project.

On April 3, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) suspended construction on the LTE project in the wake of votes by elected officials for Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles to halt tower construction at most of the sites remaining in the original LA-RICS system design.

The new LTE proposal represents a considerable change to the 177-site design that was being built until last month. When the project was contracted to Motorola Solutions last March, the LTE network was expected to have 231sites, but that total decreased as various jurisdictions refused to approve sites for the LTE system.

When announcing the suspension, NTIA directed LA-RICS “to submit an amended project plan by April 13 that is acceptable to the City Council, the County Board of Supervisors and NTIA, acting in consultation with FirstNet.”  LA-RICS submitted the CAP for its LTE system to NTIA on Monday.

No LTE towers near fire stations—sources of RF-emissions health concerns opposed by a local firefighters union—are included in the new plan, which includes the following key components:

  • 30 county-owned LTE tower sites that are not at fire stations that were in the original plan;
  • 16 LTE tower sites owned by independent cities participating in LA-RICS, which were also in the original plan;
  • 15 new sites owned by the state of California, where LTE cells on wheels (COWs) would be deployed; and
  • Two LTE tower sites controlled by the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water and the Port of Los Angeles.

In addition to these LTE base-station sites, the CAP calls for the installation of two microwave backhaul sites to help support the network.

“That will give us a viable public-safety broadband network,” LA-RICS Executive Director Patrick Mallon said during yesterday’s county board meeting. “There are some significant areas where coverage has been lost in the San Fernando Valley, as well as in the South Bay area, but we have been working very closely with NTIA and FirstNet to deliver those sites.”

Indeed, LA-RICS officials have had daily calls with officials from NTIA and FirstNet in recent weeks, Mallon said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications after the county board meeting.

“They’ve been very helpful,” Mallon said. “We’ve had daily calls with them, to fill them in. They’ve asked questions that they feel needed to be included in the CAP.

“They’ve been a good partner in the development of the CAP response. Hopefully, we will have addressed all of the concerns they would have had, because of those discussions.”