The system will provide a common demonstration site for manufacturers, carriers, and public safety agencies to test and evaluate advanced broadband communications equipment and software for emergency first responders. The initiative is part of the joint NIST-NTIA Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, which supports research, development, testing, and evaluation to foster nationwide public safety communications interoperability.
The wireless broadband system would allow public safety agencies around the country to communicate with nationwide roaming and enhanced interoperability, and enable advanced technologies including video, geospatial information systems, and GPS applications. The network will make use of the 700 megahertz (MHz) broadband spectrum freed up by the transition to digital television signals in 2009. [see related news item]
ANSI member Alcatel-Lucent is the first technology vendor to formally join the PSCR demonstration network project. The global communications corporation has supplied equipment that supports the Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband network operating at Band 14, the spectrum earmarked for public safety agency use. LTE, which supports fourth-generation mobile broadband technologies, will help to increase the speed and precision of first responders by shaving off seconds and minutes in their response to life-threatening situations, according to Alcatel-Lucent. Approximately two million first responders in the U.S. are expected to benefit from this technology.
Vendors and other telecommunications companies interested in partnering on the demonstration network project and ultimately building the system should contact NIST's Dereck Orr (303.497.5400; firstname.lastname@example.org) or NTIA's Jeff Bratcher (303.497.4610; email@example.com). Partnerships can include providing access to infrastructure, supporting tests, donating equipment.
PSCR is also seeking communications vendors, 700-MHz waiver recipients, and active or retired public safety practitioners (police, firefighters, EMS, FBI, etc., and their command staff) with experience using wireless communications to join the project's workgroups. Additional information on joining in this capacity is available here.