Last month technology company NextWave Wireless, which is struggling to stay afloat, sold off its majority stake in its IPWireless subsidiary for $1 million to IPW Holdings, which is made up of the senior management team of IPWireless. The inventor of TD-CDMA is now a private entity and the public-safety market is a big part of its plans.

TD-CDMA is the technology used in a broadband wireless public-safety network in New York City. The network operates on 10 megahertz of licensed spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band obtained by the city via lease agreements with Sprint Nextel and Trans Video Communications, owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. Global defense contractor Northrop Grumman is the vendor for that network

NextWave bought IPWireless in April 2007 for $100 million and now is selling the division back at a fraction of the price. The new IPWireless has entered into a separate transaction with an unnamed strategic customer under which IPWireless received debt financing to support its business operations. It’s rumored that the strategic customer is Northrop Grumman, but IPWireless Chief Marketing Officer John Hambidge declined to comment.

While the new company will focus on the commercial market for TD-CDMA, city deployments will play a large role in the company’s strategy. The New York deployment has become a showcase for the technology. Hambidge said the network now has nearly 400 cell sites in the ground and is supporting 53 different applications from 19 different agencies. The average network speed is 15 Mb/s on the downlink and 5 Mb/s on the uplink, he said.

The network not only is being used for public safety but also for many city functions, such as automating traffic lights, replacing T-1 lines and tracking sanitation trucks. “We’re hoping to announce a couple of other cities in that same vein. The message is that an overall government network like this can reduce costs for the city and at the same time provide a state-of-the-art public-safety system,” Hambidge said.

He noted two other factors that make TD-CDMA appealing to public-safety users. It can be deployed in as little as 10 megahertz of spectrum, while WiMAX systems need about 30 megahertz to provide significant broadband speeds. This is significant, as many cities often own 5 megahertz or a bit more from legacy government networks and IPWireless has been successful at finding extra channels for TD-CDMA projects to secure the 10 megahertz these cities need, Hambidge said. Moreover, the TD-CDMA platform is fully upgradable to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, an all-IP 4G standard that will be adopted by the world’s major commercial operators, giving public safety the economies of scale it seeks for technology investment.