Public-safety officers in Charlotte, N.C., will be able to use a significant portion of the city’s new 700 MHz LTE network while providing security for the Democratic National Convention in September, according to a city official heading the project.

At least seven downtown LTE sites are expected to be operable in June under the first phase of the project that is being deployed by Alcatel-Lucent, according to Chuck Robinson, the key business executive for the city of Charlotte’s business support services.

“Phase 1 really puts us in a position to support the Democratic National Convention,” Robinson said. “We’re providing what we’re calling urban-dense coverage that covers the downtown area of Charlotte and a half-mile outside.”

“It was designed to make sure that, in the downtown area where we host a lot of events, that we had a dense coverage that can support video, high data usage and a whole lot of things.”

Funded primarily by almost $17 million in federal grant money provided through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), the Charlotte public-safety LTE system is expected to have 39 sites, 75% of which will be deployed on existing commercial infrastructure owned by Crown Castle, Robinson said.

Currently, the city of Charlotte is completing its final network design and site surveys, preparing for its interoperability showing before the FCC and expects to open bidding for LTE devices during the first half of December, Robinson said. Network deployment is scheduled to begin by the end of March, he said.

Charlotte previously asked the FCC to rule whether city personnel that are not part of the police, fire and EMS departments could operate on the new 700 MHz broadband network. The FCC has not issued a final ruling in the proceeding, but it did release some guidance that Charlotte is using, Robinson said.

“We’ve got enough in that ruling to get the network up and make it marginally sustainable,” he said. “We’ll have the traditional services — police, fire and med — without a doubt. Of course, the FCC identified health inspectors and those types of folks that would be allowed, too.

“At some point, we’re going to want to see the city utility service on there, because they’re a critical component to the health and safety that we provide to the citizens of Charlotte. We also would like to see our Charlotte department of transportation — they provide critical infrastructure that helps ensure the safety of the public.”