Cell Phone Opportunities
It depends on the mind set of an agency or people within that agency. Public Safety and public service officials often seem to feel that the cell phone can be relied on during an incident in the immediate area of that incident. This has reached a point where the use of conventional radio is forgotten, ignored or outright rejected.
One of the reasons is that officials are more comfortable using a phone. Now, most radio operators have experienced "mike fright". Just imagine how it feels to those who hardly ever, or in many cases, never have used a radio.
Another reason is the false assumption that the cell phone is just as private as the conventional phone. It isn't. It is basically a radio and the conversations can be monitored by anyone with a conventional scanner that covers the necessary frequencies. There are many scanners used for that purpose. Whether it's legal or not is besides the point.
Now remember that these cell services are in it for the money. And that is great. It is just that, time and again, cell phones have not worked during and within the local area of an emergency. There are many reasons for this.
- The cell services are designed along the same lines as the landline phone system. What is important to note here is that, under normal conditions (no emergency in progress), only a very few of the users of the system will actually be using it at the same time. Even if a cell site had access to 160 phones (2 min, 160 max, typically 42 per site), then only 160 people could use that site simultaneously. Most cell sites give access to far fewer than 160 phones. Some rural sites only handle two to six phones. Ask anyone who uses a cell phone in a large metropolitan area how often they get the "no service" display and/or delays because of high usage. And, during any kind of disaster, the usage rates go very high, as everyone tries to call their friends and relatives in order to make that personal incident report to them.
- Even if the cell site survives an incident, and all of the phones were not busy, the communications from the cell site to its mobile switching center are often carried over landline phone circuits. These are vulnerable to disruption from all the common sources including: downed lines, earthquake, fire, flood, overload etc. And remember, even if the cell site itself is not damaged, some cell sites do not have any backup power.