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NIST plans 700 MHz demonstration network for public safety communications

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) plans to develop a 700 MHz Public Safety Broadband Demonstration Network, which will provide a “multi-vendor, neutral host environment” in which manufacturers and first responders will be able to test the roaming and interoperability capabilities of their broadband systems.

A new law and new Federal Communications Commission rulings have cleared room on the spectrum for the development of a unified system that can foster nationwide roaming and interoperability, explained a NIST notice posted in the Federal Register on March 3.

“Though this spectrum will provide ample opportunity for the build-out of next-generation communications systems that could achieve true interoperability for public safety, no government or independent laboratory facilities exist in the United States to test and demonstrate the behaviors of this yet-to-be-deployed 700 MHz network and the applications that could run on top of it,” NIST noted.

NIST will hold a free Webinar on March 15 as a kickoff informational meeting to bring together vendors, carriers, public safety practitioners, academics and other stakeholders to discuss how to move forward with the Demonstration Network. Interested individuals should register for the Webinar by March 12 by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

NIST intends for the demonstration site to be used for the early deployment of systems to evaluate what is called the “Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard.

“The goal of this project is to demonstrate and evaluate the behaviors of 3GPP LTE technology deployed in the 700 MHz bands, specific to the needs of public safety agencies,” said NIST’s notice. Features that might be tested include multicast / broadcast capabilities, priority access, pre-emption, SMS and voice.

Parties wishing to participate actively in the Demonstration Network need to inform NIST by April 30. NIST plans to enter into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs)  with participating equipment suppliers, said the notice.

The Demonstration Network will be developed in three phases: Phase 1 will create a common test plan; Phase 2 will deploy test equipment to various sites and Phase 3 will test and demonstrate the equipment.

“This demonstration network is currently in the preliminary planning stages and is expected to go live in mid 2010,” said NIST.

Further information is available from Emil Olbrich at 303-497-4950 or [email protected].




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