As the International Wireless Communications Expo enters its 22nd year this March, its content couldn't be more relevant.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, still haunt us, while forcing the issues of homeland security and public safety into the minds of every American. The concerns weigh even more heavily on businesses, public safety officials and those on the front line of the security battle: first responders. Interoperability has become more than a problem for a niche marketplace — it has become no less than a matter of life and death.

Needless to say, a spiraling economy and impending war haven't made things any easier in this post-Sept. 11 marketplace. Buyers and dealers — both private and public — have questions and concerns. And IWCE provides a vital forum for these issues and more.

Mobile Radio Technology and IWCE have taken the lead in addressing homeland security and how it relates to mobile radio dealers and buyers. In fact, the entire magazine has been redesigned and reorganized to make it more relevant to its readers.

IWCE offers the latest in business, regulatory, public safety, interoperability, transportation and utility applications, and — of course — homeland security. IWCE will unveil the breaking news and trends from the most influential members of the wireless communications industry.

Keynote address

This year's keynote speaker, former United Nations Ambassador Richard Butler, highlights the added relevance of wireless communications in this new business and political climate.

To say Butler is familiar with terrorism understates his experience. A former weapons inspector, Butler can not only address the burgeoning homeland security issue, but he can speak to events still unraveling in the Middle East. Butler also can put into perspective the role of conference attendees and exhibitors in the context of the bigger picture of homeland security and public safety.

Butler is diplomat in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Before that, he was executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with the disarmament of Iraq — a role that adds even more relevance to his presence at the show in the light of today's newspaper headlines. Prior to his stint in Iraq, Butler served as Australian ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations in New York. He was appointed Australian ambassador to Thailand in 1989 and, simultaneously in 1991, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the Supreme National Council of Cambodia. Butler also was named Australia's first ambassador for disarmament in 1983 — where he led the Australian delegation to a disarmament conference in Geneva and was charged with conducting all Australian disarmament negotiations. Butler's book, The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security, was published in 2000.

Butler's keynote address is scheduled for March 12, 9-10 a.m.

Homeland security

For the first time, the issue of homeland security has earned its own conference track at IWCE. Land mobile communications play a pivotal role in fortifying U.S. borders. The people dependent on these communications often present the first and last line of defense.

Participants will get familiar with the administration's policy and newly installed Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge's plans to protect the borders and what it means for the wireless marketplace.

The new conference track kicks off with a workshop called “Where the Money Is and How to Get It” (March 12, 1-1:50 p.m.). Speakers include Eric Jenkins, chief of program coordination, Federal Emergency Management Agency; Michael Paddock, CEO of Grants Office; and Anton (Toby) Reut, senior vice president sales — marketing and client services for Federal Sources Inc.

That's followed up with “Budget Blues — Don't Go Overboard” (2-2:50 p.m.). Gary T. Blore, office of programs chief for the U.S. Coast Guard will address attendees.

A homeland security outlook and forecast conference follows at 3 p.m. and will be address by Payton Smith, manager - public sector market analysis services at Input Inc.

IWCE's first day of homeland security coverage wraps up with “What Congress Wants To Provide You” (4-4:50 p.m.) Federal Sources' Reut will address priorities and funding for Homeland Security initiatives at the workshop.

On March 13, the homeland security track concludes with a workshop on Washington, D.C., communications (9-9:50 a.m.). Mike Hill, director of field operations for CapWIN at the University of Maryland will speak. The CapWIN Project emerged out of public concern for safety in the nation's capital. The project sought to improve coordination and information sharing among public safety and transportation agencies and organizations in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Other conference tracks include public safety, business, transportation/utility applications, regulation/policy and interoperability.

Special events

Other conference special events include the annual breakfast meeting March 13 (7:30-9 a.m.) with the Radio Club of America. The breakfast provides an idealnetworking opportunity for club members and features a keynote address geared to critical industry issues.

The “First Responders Roundtable” on March 13 (5:15-7:15 p.m.) is a debut conference feature this year. Moderated by Amy Cosper, Primedia radio franchise general manager, the panel will feature a number of first responders, including: Steve Proctor, executive director of the Utah Communications Agency Network; Royce Shearing, chief of incident communications operations branch at the National Interagency Fire Center; Capt. Frank McCarthy of the county of Los Angeles Fire Department; and Steve German of NIFC.

New products

Several companies plan to unveil new products at this year's IWCE — among them:

Cimarron Technologies

Cimarron Technologies will announce the availability of a simultaneous multiple format decode option in their C Plus ANI decoders. With this option, the C Plus decoders can decode and display MDC-1200, GE-STAR and FleetSync formats. They also will automatically acknowledge emergencies in the appropriate format. This allows for the mixing of different format radios within a fleet. Other options for the C Plus are a 4000 ID database for its 27 character alpha-numeric display, Tone Remote, a 19” rack mount kit and encode in FleetSync, MDC-1200 or GE-STAR. The C Plus comes in 4 different models to best suit your needs and budget.
www.cimtechcorp.com

CITEL Inc.

CITEL Inc. plans the announcement of the expansion of the SurgeGuard family of AC power line surge protectors. The new “enhanced” offerings include products with surge capabilities up to 400kA (8/20us) and 60kA (10/350us). The SurgeGuard offers protection against both conducted and induced transient overvoltages that might be caused by direct lightning strikes, utility switching or other random disturbances.
www.citelprotection.com

EFJohnson

EFJ Inc. will announce that its EFJohnson subsidiary's multi-protocol 5100 series portable radios are now approved by Factory Mutual as Intrinsically Safe for Class I, II & III, Division 1, Groups C, D, E, F and G; and as Non-Incendive for Class I, Division 2, Groups A, B, C and D, when used with the EFJohnson intrinsically safe battery. These new intrinsically safe radios are available in VHF, UHF, and 800 MHz frequency bands, and have the same interoperable features as the standard 5100 series — forward and backward multiple protocol compatibility, allowing communications on Project 25 trunking and conventional radio systems, SMARTNET/SmartZone trunked radio systems, Multi-Net trunking systems, and conventional analog radio communications systems.
www.efjohnson.com

IFR

IFR has announced 13 GHz spectrum analyzer for less than $20,000. The 13 GHz spectrum analyzer that breaks new ground in the mid-range spectrum analyzer market by offering the highest performance at the lowest price. Key applications for the 2394 spectrum analyzer are mobile handset production test, handset repair verification and base station transmitter testing.
www.ifrsys.com

Micronet

Micronet Ltd., a leading OEM developer of mobile data terminals, today announced the commercial availability of Net-960, the industry's first in-vehicle data messaging platform, combined with built-in GPRS and/or GPS modules. The Net-960's vehicle-specific user interface features a unique control knob for one-touch operation of the terminal, and support of both data and voice communication, for comprehensive dispatch, messaging, and status reporting applications. The Net-960 can be adapted to specific requirements, including the interface to Telematics devices and the utilization of various Wireless communication and GPS modules.
www.micronet.co.il/

OTTO Communications

OTTO Communications announces the new Genesis Speaker Microphone. The Genesis speaker microphone with dual grill is the most rugged unit in OTTO's speaker microphone portfolio. Its design and construction meets MIL-STD-810E, is fully sealed per IP68 standard and is engineered to withstand prolonged exposure to water and temperature extremes. The removable front grill with replaceable debris screen and washable speaker cavity area allows users to easily wash away dust, dirt and other debris.
www.ottoeng.com

Sti-Co

With the addition of many new communication devices in law enforcement vehicles, space for additional antennas has become scarce. STI-CO has developed the first in a series of new antenna systems for non-covert police cars, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, taxis, and airport shuttles — any vehicles using a light bar. With this new Light Bar Antenna System up to four STI-CO VHF, UHF and cellular antennas may be mounted on a standard metal or plastic top light bar for optimal performance without drilling additional holes in the car!
www.sti-co.com

Topaz3-ComStar

ComStar has improved technology again in the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) world. The newest 2000 series receivers have addressed some previous challenges dealers had experienced. The brightest part is the new low cost. For less than $3,000, dealers can now get into the new and growing AVL market by owning and operating a single channel single site system with capacity of up to 400 vehicles. ComStar is unique in that they offer dealers a true turnkey and proven system. Receivers are put at an existing UHF site and connected to the Internet.
www.topaz3.com

Pre-conference workshops

For base station engineers, technicians or anyone concerned with pending spectrum allocation issues, this year's IWCE starts a few days early.

Pre-conference workshops, which begin on Monday, will cover base station topics such as grounding practices, microwave transmissions and design.

And, for the first time, a pre-show UTC workshop is scheduled to cover spectrum issues:

Monday — March 10

8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Grounding Essentials for Telecommunications — W1

8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Introduction to Project Management — W2

Tuesday — March 11

8 a.m.-12 p.m.
Introduction to Microwave Transmission — W3

8 a.m.-12 p.m.
Understanding Wireless Network Technology Part 1 — W4

1 p.m.- 5 p.m.
Microwave Propagation and Path Design — W5

1 p.m.- 5 p.m.
Understanding Wireless Network Technology Part 2 — W6

1 p.m.- 4 p.m.
UTC Pre-Conference Workshop UTC Spectrum Services: Frequency Coordination — Tips and Tricks of the Trade