The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are developing a demonstration public-safety broadband communications network. The network will let manufacturers, carriers and public-safety agencies evaluate advanced broadband communications equipment and software tailored to first responders' needs, said Dereck Orr, the program manager for NIST's public-safety communications research program.

Orr said public-safety agencies soon will use the 700 MHz broadband spectrum (cleared by the switch to digital TV) to develop a unified broadband system that lets agencies communicate with nationwide roaming and interoperability. Yet, there currently are no government or independent laboratory facilities testing the yet-to-be-deployed network and its applications.

As a result, NIST will establish two test sites to determine the effectiveness of the network and related hardware and software components. Orr said initially there will be two network sites. The first site will be built in a controlled environment at a NIST laboratory. The other will be established on Table Mountain north of Boulder, Colo. Table Mountain is part of the Department of Commerce's laboratories and is one of the nation's two radio-free quiet zones. He said the zone will support an over-the-air system using experimental licenses in the D Block in order to test public safety-specific applications, including location tracking and live streaming video.

“We also will be looking at technologies like LTE that now have the ability to implement preemption or the ability to implement prioritization — that's not been seen in any network before, and yet it's something very important to public safety, especially in a shared network,” Orr said.


The city of Columbus, Ohio, selected Intergraph's incident response management solutions to streamline police, fire and EMS response, the company announced. Emergency responders will use the company's integrated computer-aided dispatch and mobile dispatch technologies to share information across agencies.


Sprint Nextel's latest monthly report to the FCC regarding the reconfiguration of the 800 MHz band said that almost 90% of all non-border-area public-safety licensees have signed relocation agreements, and almost 50% have completed the work and are operating on new channel assignments.


AtHoc announced that the U.S. Coast Guard deployed its IWSAlerts system for nationwide emergency notification. More than 100 USCG facilities will use the system, which has the capability to reach 50,000 personnel and maritime industry members, according to the company.


The Communications Marketing Association announced new officers and the launch of a new Web site with enhanced features. New board officers for 2010-2012 are Larry Weber, The Sales Group, as president; Elaine Walsh, E-Comm International, as vice-president; Stan Reubenstein, Aurora Marketing, as secretary; and Manny Gutsche, RF Industries, as treasurer. Newly appointed to the CMA board is Rex Reed, Aeroflex.


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Verizon and Alcatel-Lucent currently are conducting trials of the 4G technology favored by public safety for the proposed 700 MHz nationwide broadband network. See “LTE rollouts to begin this year.”

Google has asked the FCC to appoint it a database administrator for TV white space spectrum, which the Internet giant thinks will “revolutionize” broadband. See “Google steps up to the plate on TV white space.”

When a California 911 center realized its emergency continuity plan wouldn't work because it couldn't communicate with a neighboring center, it did something about it. See “California fire agencies interoperate with Tritech system.”

The FCC is seeking comments on the proper use of cellular signal boosters. For analysis of this contentious issue, see “FCC finally moving on signal booster use, but issue isn't so clear.”