Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn to supply NYC safety net spectrum

Northrop Grumman has tapped what at first glance seems to be an unusual partner to provide spectrum for the $500 million public safety network for the New York City – the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

But the diocese, through its Trans Video Communications arm, has spectrum licenses in the 2.5 GHz band that blankets all of New York, said Paul Chelson, Northrop Grumman’s program director for wireless.

The diocese has held the licenses – originally called Instructional Televisions Fixed Service and designed for educational broadcasting – for decades. Monsignor Michael Dempsey, director of pastoral communications at the diocese, has spearheaded successful efforts in the past five years in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission to use this spectrum to transmit broadband data in what the FCC calls the Educational Broadband Service.

Northrop Grumman will also lease spectrum from Sprint Nextel for New York City’s Mobile Wireless Network (CMWN), which will provide the New York Police Department, Fire Department, Transportation Department, Office of Emergency Management and other agencies with a high-speed network capable of handling a variety of broadband data, Chelson added.

Sprint Nextel will provide Northrop Grumman with spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band from licenses it holds in the Broadband Radio Service, Chelson said. The frequencies leased from the diocese and Sprint Nextel will provide Northrop Grumman with a total of 10 MHz that will cover the entire city, Chelson said.

Chelson declined to provide financial details of the leases with the diocese or Sprint Nextel. Dempsey did not comment because of a nondisclosure agreement, and Sprint Nextel has not yet answered queries from Federal Computer Week for comment.

Northrop Grumman plans to install about 400 cell sites in New York that will operate in the 2.5 GHz band. Each of those sites will be able to provide 7.5M per second of wideband data in a three-sector arc using equipment IPWireless has provided, Chelson said.

The IPWireless gear operates on the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System standard, which Chelson described as advanced for mobile use compared to the rival WiMax standard heavily backed by Intel.

Chelson said he expects that IPWireless’ planned upgrades will allow Northrop Grumman to provide about 35M per second of throughput with two to three years from each sector of the 400 base stations.

Northrop Grumman will build and operate CMWN for New York under a $500 million contract for five years, Chelson said. At the end of five years, the city has the option to buy the network or extend the contract for another 10 years, Chelson said.

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