IPWireless, which is already supplying TD-CDMA technology to New York City in the 2.5 GHz band, announced two deals that will see the technology deployed in the 700 MHz band.

The Southern Georgia Regional Information Technology Authority (SGRITA) and USA Choice Internet Services, an ISP in Pennsylvania, are deploying the solution in underserved rural areas to serve both consumers and public safety. The company also announced it has commenced trials of the 700 MHz solution with public safety entities based on the work the company has done with New York City.

The city deployed TD-CDMA technology and Northrop Grumman built and now operates the network on behalf of the city. It initially was designed and engineered to improve public-safety communications, but has evolved to serve multiple agencies and applications, supporting more than 19 municipal departments and more than 50 discrete applications.

While it's clear the public-safety community and licensees in the 700 MHz band want to deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, LTE still is in its infancy, and TD-CDMA is increasingly being marketed by IPWireless as a way for operators and public-safety agencies to deploy mobile broadband technology now and migrate to LTE later using the same platform.

John Hambidge, chief marketing officer with IPWireless, said the TD-CDMA base stations can be upgraded to LTE via a software upgrade. From a network coverage standpoint, he said the link budget for LTE will be identical to what is put into the ground for TD-CDMA.

Operators would then need to come up with a migration strategy to LTE. That could entail upgrading the network in various increments, such as adding LTE in 3 MHz of spectrum or less, or lighting up the entire network. It all depends on the installed base of users, Hambidge said. "One thing we are looking at is multi-mode devices for an interim period," he said.

It's clear that TD-CDMA will most likely never support mobile phones, but a set of end user devices that include USB modem and PCI Express Mini Cards (PEMs) are already prevalent. They are integrated into a range of devices including, residential home gateway, outdoor CPEs, rugged mobile routers for vehicle installations, rugged PDAs and ultra-mobile PCs such as the Panasonic Toughbook, traffic light controllers, video surveillance cameras and automated meter reading devices. Hambidge said the lack of phone support won't be unlike early deployments of LTE, which won't see smartphones until the end of 2010 at the earliest.

SGRITA’s network will cover 2,000 square miles and will serve the Southwest Georgia farming community including schools, residents, and government agencies in the rural five-county area, including police, fire and EMS agencies. SGRITA is deploying their mobile broadband network in conjunction with consulting firm Civitium.

SGRITA, born out of a grassroots movement to bring broadband to underserved areas of Georgia, has already deployed microwave in the 2.5 GHz band but had secured 700 MHz spectrum with the vision of pushing broadband to homes and tying in public safety.

"When the public-safety version [of 700 MHz] is auctioned, it will be a state-wide contract," SGRITA Director Lee Conner told Urgent Communications in May. "We will team with that group that wins this bid to deploy in this region. … The mantra we keep repeating is to provide a single platform everyone can use that they could not afford to deploy themselves."

USA Choice is deploying a multi-service communications network, offering fixed and mobile applications for public safety, mobile data and voice capabilities as well as video surveillance services. The network will consist of 49 sites within the counties of Crawford, Forest, Venango, and Warren, Pa. USA Choice, a recent winner of the 700MHz FCC auction, is deploying the network in conjunction with project-management company Versar.