N.C. county installs public safety network

Law enforcement officials in North Carolina’s second most populous county have apparently deployed the first 4.9 GHz, multiband broadband public safety network in the country, a Motorola official said.

The Motorola Motomesh network was implemented at three facilities in Wake County: the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, the Carter-Finley Stadium at North Carolina State University and the Royal Bank of Canada Center.

The network, which is linked to several video cameras, will allow police officers to monitor those areas in real time through personal digital assistants or mobile terminals in their cruisers, said Rick Rotondo, director of marketing for Motorola’s mesh networking products group.

Police officers will be able to control – that is, pan, tilt or zoom – those cameras through the network, providing them with greater situational awareness, he said. The proprietary technology also supports mobile broadband, meaning vehicles driving up to 250 miles per hour will still be connected to the network, he added.

Rotondo said the network was paid for with Homeland Security Department funds through the county’s Domestic Preparedness Task Force. Although the 4.9 GHz network can be used for voice, video and data, county officials are going to use it only for video for now. He said that it’s typical of law enforcement agencies to add functions as they become more comfortable with new technology.

In early 2002, the Federal Communications Commission dedicated 50 MHz of spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band for fixed and mobile wireless services for state and local public safety communities. Licenses have been available for state and local governments since mid-2003.

Several vendors have been testing new equipment that can be used within that spectrum in the past couple years.

Rotondo said Motorola will announce the implementation of 4.9 GHz networks in a dozen municipalities – some citywide deployments – nationwide next month. He said the Motomesh product can support four radio networks – including licensed 4.9 GHz and commercial Wi-Fi applications – from a single access point.

In Wake County, a dozen nodes are implemented in those three facilities, he said.

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