Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Developments in Broadband

To support the President’s National Wireless Initiative, the Department of Commerce’s FY 2013 budget request proposes to establish a program to develop a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network in the 700MHz band.

Today, the 10 megahertz of dedicated spectrum allocated to public safety in the 700 MHz band for broadband communications provides more than the required capacity for day-to-day communications. However, for the worst emergencies, even access to another 10 MHz of spectrum is insufficient. Therefore, priority access and roaming on the 700 MHz commercial networks is critical to providing adequate capacity in extreme situations.

So far, according to the Department of Commerce’s FY 2013 budget release, $2 million would be allotted to the Public Safety Communications Research program now being conducted by NIST with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The demonstration has created a 700 MHz Public Safety Broadband Demonstration Network to help manufacturers have a site to deploy their systems, to help evaluate systems in a multi-vendor environment, and to stimulate integration opportunities for commercial service providers.

On February 17th, the establishment of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network was included in the House of Representatives “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011” and passed. The bill has provisions to ensure that public safety broadband network research, development, and standards work would be conducted by NIST.

This legislation enables NIST to work with the telecommunications industry and the public safety community to help spur the development of cutting-edge wireless technologies for first responders.

The Department of Commerce’s FY 2013 budget request would establish a “State and Local Implementation Grant Program” to be administered by NTIA. Grants would to go to states to use to assist state, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions to identify, plan and implement the most efficient and effective ways to use and integrate the infrastructure, equipment and other architecture associated with the network.

The grant program would begin in FY 2013 and would be administered over ten years with the total cost of $200 million to the federal government. The program would be fully offset by proceeds from spectrum incentive auctions to be conducted by the FCC.

In other news, NTIA has announced that the “National Broadband Map” has a new feature to make it easier to use the map while using a mobile device. The new feature allows anyone on the go using a mobile phone and the GPS system to more easily search broadband availability, summarize and rank data, and view a map of community anchor institutions.

Users of the mobile browser version of the National Broadband Map can swipe across panels of information and access additional information by sliding the footer panel up. A convenient sharing panel is also available at the top of each page. Traditional search is supported and the results are presented in a new format for mobile devices.