D.C. preps wireless demo

D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Washington, D.C., officials are preparing to demonstrate their wireless broadband network for Congress next month.

The primary goal of the Sept. 23 demonstration is to show that wireless broadband can support traditionally wired applications, said Robert LeGrande, deputy chief technology officer for Washington, D.C. He spoke today at a breakfast hosted by National Business Promotions and Conferences Inc.

District of Columbia officials hope the demonstration will convince members of Congress to have the Federal Communications Commission allocate the additional 10 MHz spectrum needed in the upper 700 MHz band to make wireless broadband possible nationwide, LeGrande said. That spectrum is not included in any current FCC reallocation plans.

Washington, D.C., is serving as the pilot test area for national implementation of this technology, and through the Spectrum Coalition for Public Safety, district officials are representing and being supported by state and local governments nationwide, LeGrande said. Public safety organizations such as the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International Inc. and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council also are supporting the coalition.

The demonstration is the latest in a series of steps to bring the wireless network to Washington, D.C. Upgrading the voice and data communications for the district's police, fire, emergency medical services and nonpublic safety agencies is expected to cost up to $5 million, LeGrande said. The contract with Motorola Inc. and Flarion Technologies Inc. provides on-street coverage of the entire district, and the CTO Office is conducting extensive testing for usability, scalability, reliability and security.

One of the first applications to go on the network is a chemical and biological hazards initiative for the Metro subway system. Officials also are gathering requirements from agency users to determine what other applications and features they need.

"We want to give them the opportunity to really elevate what they can do within an event," LeGrande said.

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