LAS VEGAS--Public-safety communications vendor M/A-COM last week at IWCE launched two new components to its IP-based VIDA platform—a 4.9 GHz offering and a scaled-down version of the VIDA network solution targeted toward small jurisdictions.

Available immediately, VIDAmax represents M/A-COM’s first venture into the 4.9 GHz arena, said Gregory Henderson, M/A-COM’s manager for broadband technology. Unlike most 4.9 GHz solutions, VIDAmax is based on 802.16—popularly known as WiMAX—instead of 802.11, or Wi-Fi.

By using a scheduled protocol such as 802.16 and a point-to-multipoint distribution architecture, M/A-COM’s 4.9 GHz offering can guarantee quality of service from the base station and data rates ranging from 4 MB/s to 19 MB/s, Henderson said. As a contention-based protocol, 802.11 offerings cannot do this, even with the implementation of the 802.11e quality-of-service standard for the platform.

“It helps the quality of service, but all 802.11e does is give priority to trying to get the channel,” Henderson said. “It’s still not a guarantee of quality of service.”

As a high-power solution, VIDAmax adheres to the tighter-mask requirements required by the FCC. The product also features a migration path to 802.16e, or mobile WiMAX, when that standard is completed.

Another M/A-COM product featuring a migration path is VIDA Select, an entry-level version of the company’s VIDA networking solution designed specifically for small public-safety agencies, M/A-COM representative Bob Sitterley said. VIDA Select is limited to 24 talk paths, but “feature wise, you will have everything” that the larger VIDA solution offers at significantly less expense.

More important, if a public-safety agency needs to expand, the investment in VIDA Select will not be stranded, Sitterley said.

“It’s easily upgradeable,” he said. “You don’t have to throw anything away, because you use the same basic infrastructure.”

In addition to its performance features, VIDA Select also provides a path to interoperability—something that has become important to even small jurisdictions. In fact, Sitterley said some potential customers at IWCE indicated they might consider deploying the VIDA Select switching center in a mobile communications vehicle to provide interoperability between disparate networks at an incident.

M/A-COM is accepting orders for VIDA Select, with shipping expected to be executed about 3 months after an order is processed, Sitterley said.