US plans 700 MHz demo network

Monday, 18 January, 2010

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the US have announced plans to create a demonstration broadband communications network for the nation’s emergency services agencies using a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum freed up by the recent transition of US broadcast television from analog to digital.

The new system will provide a common demonstration site for manufacturers, carriers and public safety agencies to test and evaluate advanced broadband communications equipment and software tailored specifically to the needs of emergency first responders.

Public safety agencies are looking to make use of the 700 MHz. A unified broadband system would allow public safety agencies to communicate with nationwide roaming and enhanced interoperability.

However, there are currently no government or independent laboratory facilities in the US to test and demonstrate the public safety specific behaviours of this yet-to-be-deployed network and the applications that could run on top of it.

To address this gap, NIST and NTIA, through their Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, will begin building a public safety broadband demonstration network to provide manufacturers with a site for early deployment of their systems, an opportunity to evaluate them in a multi-vendor environment and create integration opportunities for commercial service providers.

A national broadband network could offer public safety groups around the country access to advanced communications technologies including video, mapping and GPS applications and more.

Emergency responders, vendors, carriers, academia and other pertinent stakeholders will also able to access the demonstration network.

The network is currently in the preliminary planning stages and is expected to go live earlier this year.

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