Utah plans wireless data network

Utah officials plan to use current installations throughout the state to

build a single wireless data network that will serve state and federal government

agencies as well as other Utah public entities, including county and city

governments, public schools and higher education facilities.

"We are trying to develop the network so that all of these entities

will be able to swap data over wireless devices," said Floyd Ritter, strategic

planner for wireless communications in Utah's Division of Information Technology

Services. "They can do that now over a government [mainly landline network],

but someone like a police officer needs the ability to check out a person

even before he gets out of his car."

The state-sponsored network also will help extend wireless capabilities

to remote areas of the state that commercial carriers won't service, he

said.

The source of the network's funding will determine when construction

on it begins. Nothing has been presented to the legislature so far, Ritter

said, adding that his office will wait until the probable costs can be better

determined before examining funding options. Replies to a request for proposals

were due today.

Ritter said one possible source could be federal grants, particularly

through the federal Office of Homeland Security. The federal government

already has expressed interest in the notion of the Utah network, he said,

especially because of its low-cost premise.

The network could also be used to provide wireless voice service, though

only on request.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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