San Francisco Bay–area public-safety agencies have entered into an agreement with Motorola to have the vendor giant build a 700 MHz LTE system as part of the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System (BayRICS) plan, the first phase of which is scheduled to be installed this year.

One of the 21 entities granted FCC waivers this spring to deploy wireless broadband systems using 700 MHz spectrum licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), the bay-area coalition of public agencies include San Francisco, Alameda County/Oakland, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. The LTE network will be an overlay to the Project 25 networks that exist and are in the process of being installed.

“This is really exciting for us, because this is the first one,” said Bob Schassler, Motorola’s senior vice president of worldwide radio solutions. “To be able to provide that interoperability between broadband and narrowband and the interoperability we’ll have between private and public is really what this is all about.”

Laura Phillips, general manager of the Bay Area UASI, echoed this sentiment.

“This agreement represents a first step in realizing the BayRICS vision for a unified, state-of-the-art, mission critical voice and broadband multimedia network,” Phillips said in a prepared statement. “Combining a public-safety-hardened LTE overlay network with our Project 25 voice and data networks, we have the opportunity to equip our first responders with the advanced communications tools they need to better protect themselves and our communities.”

In the first phase of the project, which will be installed late this year and is expected to be operational in early 2011, 10 sites and 330 Motorola modems will be deployed.

“It’s really to get going on it, to starting using some of the applications and test cases — kind of a proof of concept for everything we’re doing,” Schassler said.

Such early deployments have long been advocated by public-safety groups, which want real-world deployment and operational information to help policy-makers have more accurate estimates and expectations about rolling out LTE networks nationwide for first responders.