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Alcatel-Lucent to build 700 MHz EV-DO Rev. A network for Washington public safety

In a significant move in the widening debate over interoperable public-safety communications, Alcatel-Lucent announced it won a contract worth up to $110 million to build a CDMA2000 1x EV-DO Revision A network in the 700 MHz band covering the nation’s capital, including the White House and Congress.
“I am extremely proud of our ongoing achievements for public-safety communications,” said District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty. “We are eager to provide these critical interoperable tools to ultimately assist anyone living in, working in or visiting our capital region.”
In announcing the news, Alcatel-Lucent promised the network would be “interoperable,” and that it would “provide mission-critical information to public-safety professionals in the (region’s) 19 municipal, district, state and federal jurisdictions.”
The news is notable as policymakers continue to bicker over nationwide public-safety interoperability, an issue that came to the fore following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. During those attacks, various public-safety entities could not communicate with one another due to their disparate networks.
Although there is still no official plan for nationwide public-safety interoperability, there are currently a variety of proposals to that effect. Indeed, public-safety agencies across the country are getting additional communications spectrum as part of the Congress-mandated transition to digital TV.
As for Alcatel-Lucent’s new contract, the company will work with LGS, AnyData and CDMA pioneer Qualcomm Inc. to deploy the network as well as “modems, data modules and mobile devices” including laptops and “handheld devices.” Alcatel-Lucent trumpeted the benefits of EV-DO Rev. A technology, explaining that it will support “speeds of up to 3.1 megabits per second and send data at speeds of up to 1.8 Mbps.” The network technology also supports push-to-talk applications, an important feature for most public-safety entities.
Both Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless are in the midst of deploying their own EV-DO Rev. A networks, which likely will help lower the costs of Alcatel-Lucent’s Washington, D.C., deployment through economies of scale.
Washington, D.C., is not the first major city to select a regional wireless broadband network for public-safety communications; New York City last year handed Northrop Grumman a five-year, $500 million contract to build and maintain a wireless broadband public-safety network using IPWireless Inc.’s UMTS TD-CDMA technology.

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