Broadband eyed for first-responders.

Author:Magnuson, Stew
Position:SECURITY BEAT: Homeland Defense Briefs

The Federal Communications Commission said commercial providers could provide solutions for an integrated, interoperable nationwide broadband network for first-responders in times of crises.

In a little-heralded report to Congress released shortly before Christmas last year, the FCC said it envisions a national broadband network capable of providing, rapid-warning messages, real-time text-messaging and e-mail personnel status location, high-resolution digital images and "smart radios" that are capable of operating on multiple frequencies and multiple formats.

"While commercial wireless technologies are not appropriate for every type of public safety communication, there may now be a place for commercial providers to assist public safety in securing and protecting the homeland," the congressionally mandated report said. However, it noted that a new broadband network would require increased spectrum allocations. A possible solution lies in the 700 MHz band, which will become available after the nation's conversion to digital television, now estimated to take place in 2009. The FCC said it will investigate whether that portion of the spectra could accommodate broadband.

The report received input from 60 stakeholders, many from the communications industry who touted their proprietary...

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