The French Ministry of Internal Affairs needs spectrum resources to carry out its functions, including those relating to the fire and emergency services (Law n° 2004-811 on the modernisation of civil security, dated 13 August 2004). Like the Defence Ministry, a special feature is that its use of spectrum includes many services defined by the ITU Radio Regulations. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has listed several categories of applications for which it exercises direct control over authorisations for spectrum use:
- mobile radio networks for security and emergency purposes;
- fixed communications infrastructure;
- video surveillance (CCTV) and video reporting.
A PMR type of network (the infrastructure nationale partageable des transmissions/INPT - national shared-use transmissions infrastructure) makes the ACROPOL service available for use by police and mobile gendarmerie units as well as the ANTARES service (Adaptation nationale des transmissions aux risques et aux secours - National plan for adapting transmission systems for security and emergency purposes) for use by emergency and civil security organisms (UISC, BSPP, BMPM and SDIS). This national network uses TETRAPOL technology and is situated in the lower part of the 400 MHz band. The Ministry of Internal Affairs’ mobile radio system uses a small portion of the 400 MHz band. This narrow band system cannot cope with current communications requirements in areas with high population density. However, an agreement with the Defence Ministry authorises the Ministry of Internal Affairs to use extra spectrum when required.
Fire and emergency services (SDIS, BSPP, BMPM) use some frequencies in the VHF bands (80 MHz and 170 MHz) to implement early warning systems such as Alphapage.
The Gendarmerie’s RUBIS network is not included within INPT; it mainly uses spectrum in the Defence Ministry’s 70 to 80 MHz band.
Some communities as well as public transport operators have set up video surveillance networks. ARCEP authorises such networks if they rely on radio links. Some imagery feedback goes to police and gendarmerie command posts.
Services such as the SAMU (urgent medical assistance), run by the Ministry of Health, coordinate their activities with fire and emergency services, sometimes also with the police and the gendarmerie. They use networks authorised by ARCEP. For these missions, the SAMU networks are hosted by INPT.
It is already agreed that future PPDR radio networks, developed for 4G LTE technology, will subsequently follow the mobile networks’ migration to 5G. Similarly, the “business” applications for homeland security and disaster relief are already using connected objects for monitoring and protecting response teams as well as for direct machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. The use of these technologies for the specific needs of government missions will no doubt expand at the same rate as does their development on the consumer market. However, in order to ensure the high level of resilience and availability for such missions, they will need secure spectrum resources, which does not seem compatible with an assignment of the licence-exempt bands in use for mass-market applications.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs furthermore uses the 8 GHz, 13 GHz, 22-23 GHZ and 37-39 GHz frequency bands (the long-distance links in the 1.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands will be migrating to other bands in the medium term) for the infrastructure networks supporting the INPT networks (40%, the remaining being leased lines) and RUBIS. However, the lessons learned from emergency relief operations (Klaus and Xinthya storms) have demonstrated the need for revising strategies as regards radio relay infrastructure networks (redundancy and availability). Efforts to pool radio relay infrastructures within the ministry (with the gendarmerie in particular) and increases in throughput achieved with IP (Internet Protocol) technologies have already made an impact on requirements across the spectrum.
Finally, radio relay links are in use for data transmission from regional fire and emergency services not included in ANTARES, as well as for a few infrastructure connections for the benefit of regional authorities (préfectures).
The Ministry Internal Affairs has entered into a bilateral agreement with the Defence Ministry for the development of small drones. Constantly evolving needs for surveillance and maintenance of infrastructure on the one hand, and awareness of the extremely tense situation created by the 2015/2016 terrorist attacks on the other, have led the Ministry to give more weight to secure spectrum resources and to engage in a more comprehensive consultation with operational entities to decide whether such activities will require the same level of protection as is provided for law enforcement drones (GIGN and FIPN).
Video surveillance and reporting applications
The Ministry Internal Affairs uses CCTV video systems to meet surveillance and protection requirements. Links are divided into the following categories:
- point-to-point to connect remote collection points to centres of operation (video protection);
- point-to-point infrastructure (video protection in the absence of wired systems);
- point-to-multipoint to transmit information from mobiles to a central operating unit or from a mobile to a fixed point of capture (video protection).
The Ministry is implementing video-reporting systems to cover pursuit or terrain visualisation needs during various operations, i.e.:
- airborne, to transmit imagery from police, civilian security and fire service helicopters in the 1350-1375 MHz bands (DEF derogation) and gendarmerie in the Defence Ministry’s 4.4-5 GHz band;
- terrestrial, to transmit ground imagery in the greater Paris area and in other cities in the 1375-1400 MHz band (coordinated by ARCEP);
- tactical, for video reporting enabling real-time crisis management, which will be a section of future needs as part of the move towards higher speed networks (Broadband PPDR).
The Ministry of Internal Affairs uses various spectrum resources for:
- “Business” aeronautical communications between:
- aircraft and ground-based law enforcement teams;
- aircraft and local or remote centres of operation.
- specific applications (e.g. long-distance communications networks in tropical forests) in French overseas territories for civilian security communications;
- last-resort civilian rescue measures in certain préfectures (regional civilian authorities) such as fixed and mobile radio sets in SSB mode, for instance during the KLAUS storm;
- specific applications for one-off long-distance links assisting law enforcement units (GIGN and FIPN) as well as for the specific requirements of the direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (DGSI) - internal security directorate;
- emergency networks, in particular for mountain rescue operations and forest monitoring; users of these networks are employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; rescue associations (reserve manpower for forest fires and mountain rescue) may need to connect to these networks for one-off operations or major events;
- overseas security and rescue forces’ networks (analog); they are currently migrating to digital;
- finally, many systems are implemented for the benefit of fire services. Each of the departmental fire and rescue services/Service Départemental d’Incendie et de Secours (SDIS) implements analog or digital alert networks for agents (volunteers, forest fire reservists, etc.) as well as departmental alert networks for emergency and rescue centres. They respond to SDIS needs for purposes not supported by ANTARES, the digital network reserved for public services participating in civilian security missions.