Seattle recently issued a request for information (RFI) in an effort to solicit information from vendors and other potential partners about mission-critical 700 MHz broadband data and voice options that is expected to be monitored closely throughout the nation.

“We have an RFI on the street. I’ve talked to a few potential vendors or respondents, and there’s a fair amount of interest,” said Bill Schrier, chief technology officer for the city of Seattle. “I’m hoping that we’ll get some responses from that RFI that we can work into potential solutions — not just for LTE data networks but for our LMR voice networks, as well.”

Seattle issued the RFI on behalf of three nearby counties — Snohomish, King and Pierce — that cover more than 6,000 square miles and boast a population of more than 3.3 million. Four of the mission-critical LMR systems in the area use Motorola SmartZone 4.1 technology, which the vendor says will not be supported after 2015, Schrier said.

“On the voice side, they’re looking at multiple options,” he said. “One would be to just upgrade the Motorola system, while others could be an entire replacement. But we’ll have to do something by 2015, or else we’ll have unsupported technology.”

In addition, other public-safety entities in the area are trying to meet FCC narrowbanding deadline that is just a year away. Eventually, the goal is to have a single mission-critical system for both data and voice, instead of a separate system for each type of communication, according to the RFI.

“It is highly desirable to local government to have a single wireless system that can satisfy the requirements for both mission-critical voice and broadband data,” the RFI states. “The region is trying to determine whether or not we really need to fund another round of separate LMR systems.”

Responses to the RFI are due on Feb. 10, after which officials for the region will review the input and use the information to develop a request for proposal (RFP).

In addition to the Seattle-area governments, at least 10 other entities — from Boston to San Francisco — have expressed interest in the analysis associated with the responses to the RFI. White House officials described the Seattle RFI as “innovative” in a blog posted this week.