For years, interoperable communication was limited to a first responder from one agency calling the dispatcher via radio, who contacted the dispatcher at the other agency via telephone, who then contacted their own agency’s responder via radio in order to relay information. This was the only way of communicating even though both radio systems may have operated on the same radio band. The latency in sharing information via this dispatcher-to-dispatcher exchange of information often resulted in delays and, often, in unfavorable consequences. With more than 60,000 first response agencies within the United States, this scenario is all too common.
Neighboring jurisdictions that may need to communicate with one another in the event of a mutual aid response are often on different bands, making it difficult for them to communicate with one another. In the event that Federal agencies become involved, another issue arises: There are two Federal radio bands: 162–174 MHz and 406.1–420 MHz. Most public-safety radios cannot operate on the 406.1–420 MHz band. If the Department of Defense (DoD) becomes involved, it further complicates the situation, as the DoD operates in the 138–144 MHz and 380–400 MHz bands.