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Motorola Pushing for 30 MHz of Spectrum for 'Robust' Uses

Wed, 09/22/2004 - 8:00pm
Howard Buskirk

Copyright 2004 Warren Publishing, Inc.

Consumer Electronics Daily

September 23, 2004, Thursday

Motorola is making the case on Capitol Hill that after the DTV transition an additional 30 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum should be approved for public safety, for streaming video and other more "robust" applications that wouldn't be supported by the 24 MHz currently targeted to go to public safety. The Motorola proposal, which will be discussed during a presentation today (Thursday) on the Hill, asks for three times the 10 MHz of additional spectrum sought by the Spectrum Coalition for Public Safety.

The presentation also highlights a test project using 700 MHz spectrum by the D.C. government., which is on the air on an experimental basis. D.C. officials are leaders of the coalition seeking an additional 10 MHz. Motorola officials hope to win the support of the Dept. of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, who have limited spectrum available for uses like live shots from overhead helicopters during an emergency.

A group of six public safety associations sent Senator John McCain a letter Tuesday endorsing both proposals. The DTV bill provides for a study of whether the government should dedicate more spectrum at 700 MHz to public safety. "The additional spectrum could support federal agencies, critical infrastructure entities and broadband operations for all levels of govt.," the letter said: "The 24 MHz of spectrum already allocated is simply inadequate to support those needs, in addition to the growing communications requirements of state and local first responders."

The groups said the additional spectrum is vital to public safety: "Our police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel are faced with situations every day in which this spectrum could mean the difference between life and death." Signing the letter were APCO International, the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, the International Assn. of Fire Chiefs, the Major Cities Chiefs Assn., the Major County Sheriff's Assn. and the National Sheriffs' Assn.

Motorola and the coalition said public safety would have access to relatively broad 1.25 MHz channels that would support streaming video and other applications under the 30 MHz set aside. The 24 MHz not targeted for public safety would provide channels no broader than 150 kHz, which would allow for high speed data transfer but little beyond that. "There's only so much you can do with 150 kHz," a Motorola official said.

In making the case for an extra 10 MHz, D.C. officials said the 700 spectrum has superior propagation characteristics compared to 4.9 GHz spectrum, already set aside by the FCC for similar uses. That spectrum is at a frequency that doesn't penetrate walls and would require many more transmitters than the 700 MHz spectrum. A citywide network in D.C. would require some 400 sites in the 4.9 GHz range, versus 10 sites at 700 MHz, D.C. officials said.

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