WiMAX vendor Alvarion is beginning to gain some traction in the public-safety market as WiMAX becomes a compelling conduit for mobile video surveillance solutions.

Avi Shabtay, vice president and general manager of Alvarion's private and alternative networks business, said WiMAX not only offers mobility but also the ability to load a large number of cameras on the network, along with broadband access.

"One of the things we are seeing is the kind of mobility in WiMAX allows for a variety of applications, such as ad hoc networks on the spot," he said. "The fact that you have layers of mobility added enables you to be very flexible in the different end units. That combination of ad hoc and wireless and mobility is a very attractive combination."

Rather than choosing mesh Wi-Fi for video, a growing number of public-safety agencies and municipalities are opting for WiMAX, as Wi-Fi is limited in is ability to carry video and correct error transmission, as well as carry additional traffic. Wi-Fi networks, in essence, become single-purpose video networks.

"WiMAX has the ability to build a few layers of QoS within the same network to give a highly reliable transmission," Shabtay said.

Alvarion's WiMAX equipment was used for surveillance during President Barack Obama's inauguration. Shabtay said the vendor is seeing a variety of deployment scenarios, including deployment in the 4.9 GHz band and the 3.65 GHz band. According to Shabatay, the 3.65 GHz band will be one of the most popular frequencies in the U.S. for WiMAX deployments, as the licenses are practically free and are protected from interference. Entities must apply for the license with the FCC and pay a nominal fee. Once the license is granted, that licensee must register each site. While the license is non-exclusive, should another entity have a similar license, it must demonstrate that the license doesn't interfere with the first licensee.

"We see today a whole trend of first responders looking to build an overlay of WiMAX over TETRA (in Europe), and in P25 we're starting to see it as well. First responders need the visual content and maps in the field," Shabtay said.

Alvarion will soon announce a deal with a major U.S. city to provide a WiMAX system in the 3.65 GHz band. The city not only plans to roll out video surveillance but also use the network for meter reading and general broadband access.

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