SF Announces LTE First Responder Net

Motorola says the City of San Francisco has selected it to build a Long Term Evolution network in the 700MHz band. It will be used for the municipality’s public safety agencies.

As part of the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System (pdf) plan, the system will serve multiple agencies across the greater bay area, including San Francisco, Alameda County/Oakland, Contra Costa County, as well as the cities of Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.

This broadband system provides an overlay to the existing Project 25 standards based IP cores and networks and will cost upwards of $600 million.

The region has invested $106 million to date, including funds available through the Department of Commerce, Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grants, Homeland Security (UASI) Grants and local matching funds using “free” money provided by taxpayers.

The Public Safety LTE system will be installed this year and is expected to be operational in early 2011.

This first phase includes an LTE core, 10 sites and 330 Motorola Public Safety LTE user modems to provide Bay Area responders access to a host of media rich applications delivered over the new broadband network.

“This agreement represents a first step in realizing the BayRICS vision for a unified, state-of-the-art, mission critical voice and broadband multimedia network,” said Laura Phillips, general manager of the Bay Area UASI.

“Combining a Public Safety hardened LTE overlay network with our Project 25 voice and data networks, we have the opportunity to equip our first responders with the advanced communications tools they need to better protect themselves and our communities.”

“Project Cornerstone and the Bay Area BayWEB system will be the first deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) Public Safety Broadband in the nation. This is one of the most, if not the greatest, technological advancements in my thirty year law enforcement career,” said Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Motorola says its Next Generation Public Safety solutions combine advanced technological capabilities with mission critical solutions. Motorola believes public safety requires more than just a broadband pipe.

Motorola, of course, is working with APCO and other public safety organizations, including Verizon and AT&T in order to kill the FCC’s plan to auction the “D Block”.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T, both with 700 MHz spectrum from 2008 auctions, want to see the D Block go to public safety. So does Motorola, which dominates the market for first responder communications equipment and handsets. T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel Corp., eager for more spectrum, support the FCC proposal.

The FCC’s plan — supported by the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission — “will ensure the build-out of a network that is cutting edge, reliable, and cost-effective,” FCC spokesman Rob Kenny said. It would auction off the 10 MHz “D Block”, but allow public service agencies to use the commercial frequencies. The FCC says it lowers cost and increases broadband penetration for everyone.

Public safety users currently use 800 MHz for most voice traffic, and recently were given the equivalent of four television channels (roughly Ch 63 & 64 and Ch 68 &69) in the 700 MHz band. Half those frequencies will be used for narrowband voice, the other half for broadband (LTE).

Public service users were also given 10 MHz through an agreement by Nextel & the FCC (see: 800mhzrebanding.com). Nextel relinquished their interfering channels for new spectrum at 1.9 GHz and is funding the rebanding program to the tune of $2.5B.

For the most part, public service agencies were in no rush to use those additional 800 MHz frequencies — even though it didn’t cost them a dime. The FCC’s 800MHz Band Reconfiguration task force had to repeatedly extended the deadline to slowpoke government agencies who apparently didn’t see the need.

Now Public Safety wants more spectrum. They have their eyes on a potential cash cow – the “D-Block”. In the $10 billion 2008 spectrum auction, the 10 MHz “D Block” (758–763 and 788–793 MHz), didn’t get the minimum bid of $1.3 billion (pdf). While public safety agencies can’t resell their Nextel spectrum, the “D-Block” might be a horse of a different color. But first they’ve got to grab it.

Jay Rockerfeller’s bill proposes giving the D Block to first responders, then letting them lease back the spectrum for commercial use.

Funding a stand-alone, dedicated, nationwide broadband network for first responders with 100% coverage everywhere is the problem. It could cost over $30 billion and take spectrum (and money) away from taxpayers who are already paying for a perfectly good broadband cellular network that is nearly identical.

Serving the public may not have anything to do with it.

The FCC’s first responder radio plan puts the cost of building the public safety network at roughly $6.5 billion and the cost of operating and maintaining it at between $6 billion and $10 billion over 10 years – less than half the cost of a stand-alone network, the FCC says. Commercial operators would build the network, but the spectrum would be governed by the Public Safety Spectrum Trust – and first responders could use it on a priority basis.

The 9/11 Commission head prefers the FCC’s approach — auction it. Consumers fund the network buildout. More bars in more places. First responders get priority access everywhere. It’s simple. Everyone benefits. It’s called sharing.

During Katrina, first responder and cellular towers were down so a Qualcomm microcell was created. Handsets registered to the network and located in the range of the picocell transceiver could connect. For calls outside the network, a ViaSat IP Satcom Flyaway Terminal provided a gateway.

A picocell base station can also fit in a UAV like the Shadow or an Insitu Integrator.

AT&T’s National Disaster Recovery program has over 300 trailers nationwide, loaded with networking equipment and ready to go for ANY emergency. AT&T has invested over $500 million in its disaster recovery program – for cell phones.

Actual first responders will probably use a $500 iSatPhone with a monthly fee of $19.95 for 75 cents per minute talk time. Nothing to build. Nothing to break.

Over 1.1 million people subscribed to satellite phone services in 2009. Mostly civilians. Perhaps ordinary people should be trained to take charge and move out, helping first responders lost without communications. Like in Katrina.

The APCO International Annual Conference, held Aug 1-4 in Houston, is the public safety communications industry’s largest conference, bringing lobbyists, vendors and end users together.

At the conference, Harris announced their VIDA Broadband LTE, a complete 700 MHz Broadband LTE network solution that is part of the Harris VIDA (Voice, Interoperability, Data, Access) network platform. The VIDA network integrates VIDA Broadband LTE with P25 (Project 25) radios and their OpenSky communication systems, in use by first responders across North America.

Related 700 MHz articles on Dailywireless include; Public Safety Spectrum Grab, Public Safety: Show Us The Money, Phoney Spectrum Scarcity, D-Block: It’s Done; Congress Pays, The 700MHz Network: Who Pays?, Big Bucks for 700 MHz Public Safety, FCC: Stop Complaining about Interoperability, Police & Fire: No Broadband for You, Commentary: Future of Public Safety Communications, New York Cancels Statewide Wireless Network, New York’s $2B Statewide Network Close to Canceling, M/A-COM to NY: We’re Good, NY Gives Tyco 45 days to Fix Network, Battle for Oregon’s State-wide Radio Net, Cascadia Peril, Hearings on 700MHz Auction, FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz, Public Safety: We Like 700MHz Public/Private Plan, 700MHz: Money Talks, Verizon Gets the “C” Block, The 700 Mhz Club ,

Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners

Qualcomm today announced that Global Holding Corp. and Tulip Telecom Ltd. as the initial investor partners in its broadband wireless access venture in India, reports Light Reading.

Global Holdings, the parent company of wireless tower company GTL, and Tulip, an enterprise data services specialist, are paying $28.9 million apiece for 13 percent stakes in the Indian wireless venture.

Qualcomm recently won 2.3GHz spectrum licenses in four service circles — New Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala, and Haryana and plans to build a network based on TD-Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. But, under Indian law, it needs local partners to apply for the license to build and operate the networks.

FDD-LTE and TD-LTE are making some recent gains:

On the other hand, WiMAX is moving ahead:

Related Dailywireless articles include; India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Yota Dumps WiMAX, Clearwire: New Mobile Hotspots, Clear: No Limits, WiMAX Forum: Not Dead Yet, WiMAX Forum: In Trouble?, Sprint’s WiMAX Phone Launched, SK Telecom Buys 25% of Packet One, Compare “4G” Carriers in the U.S., LTE for Sprint? and MIMO: The Paper War

Huge Internet Satellites Near Launch

The KA-SAT satellite, developed by Eutelsat, is expected to launch this November and may help close the digital divide in the UK with broadband access in rural areas. Soon afterward, the U.S. will get its own version, ViaSat-1.

“This will be the most powerful satellite in space,” said Guillaume Benoit, project manager at KA-SAT, at an event in Toulouse Thursday. “It offers 35 times more throughput than traditional KU-band satellites, and can fulfil a crucial role in meeting the broadband needs of some 30 million underserved EU citizens.”

Eutelsat’s KASAT (pdf), launching in the third quarter of 2010, will use the Ka band and offer 10 Mbps, using over 80 spotbeams. Eutelsat will locate KA-SAT at 13 degrees East where it will join three large HOT BIRD Kuband broadcasting satellites that form the world’s leading video neighbourhood.

Eutelsat’s “Tooway” broadband, recently launched in the UK, offers up to 2Mbit/s, via an existing satellite. It’s currently available using Ka-band capacity on Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD™ 6 satellite. KASAT is similar to ViaSat, and will offer the entire UK up to 10Mbit/s broadband.

Tooway, the firm that will offer the service to resellers, expects a basic packages for emailing, browsing and some uploading, will retail at around €30 (£25), with higher level packages for business users and firms. Tooway is also hoping to enter into partnerships with train and boat companies that could use the ubiquitous nature of a certain spot beam to provide broadband on the move.

Meanwhile, in the United States, WildBlue currently delivers satellite internet access to nearly 400,000 customers. It is accessible to virtually every home and small business in the contiguous U.S., including the estimated 20-25 million homes and small offices that are not wired for terrestrial (DSL or cable modem) service. Wildblue was acquired by ViaSat last year.

ViaSat-1 is expected to have more capacity than the combination of all other satellites in operation over the United States, providing 2-10 Mbps download speeds at retail prices competitive with terrestrial services, says the company. ViaSat-1 is scheduled for launch in the first half of 2011.

Some $6.39 billion in the stimulus bill will be targeted for broadband and administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

Northern Sky Research, a research firm, believes new satellite technology will revolutionize the market. High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and the upcoming O3b program, which brings backhaul to remote cellular towers, will dramatically cut bandwidth costs in targeted service areas. In total, NSR projects that satellite backhaul equipment and services will grow from an estimated $316.6 million in revenues in 2009 to $583.4 million by 2019, yielding total revenues of close to $4.8 billion over an 11-year period.

In other satellite news, Intelsat’s Galaxy 15 satellite experienced an anomaly on 5 April 2010 and became an out of control “Zombie satellite”, running wild on the geosynchrounous track. The G-15 satellite, originally located at 133° West Longitude, primarily provided transmission capacity for cable programmers in North America.

The out-of-control Galaxy 15 will pass near three more orbiting platforms before it loses power in late August or early September, putting an end to the zombie satellite’s menacing tour of the geostationary arc, says Spaceflight Now. Since navigating around AMC 11 without incident, it approached a cluster of four Intelsat-owned satellites. The wayward craft passed by Galaxy 13 with no problems earlier this month and will approach Galaxy 14 today.

The story from Intelsat is that a solar flare in April left Galaxy 15’s C-band antennas still turned on, but the satellite without ground control. The satellite continues blaring powerful communications signals that could interfere with operational satellites. Intelsat’s Galaxy 18 and Galaxy 23 satellites will be in the crosshairs of Galaxy 15 in August as the stray craft continues its march east.

Traffic on the satellite was transitioned to Intelsat’s Galaxy 12 satellite, which is the designated in-orbit spare for the North American region.

Orbital’s bottom line was hit with $2.5 million in unexpected costs from the Galaxy 15 mishap, and the company expects to spend another $1 million on the issue in the next three months, according to Garrett Pierce, vice chairman and chief financial officer.

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Here Come the Tablets

Samsung plans to introduce tablet computers this quarter, reports Reuters. Unwired View has a spy shot. The Samsung Tablet will be based on Google’s Android operating system and join dozens of firms seeking to challenge Apple’s popular iPad.

Nokia, Microsoft and HP are also planning tablets. Nokia’s is likely to be based on MeeGo, its new open source platform for smartphones, tablets and settops, Microsoft will use its own version of Mobile 7, and HP will likely use its WebOS, which it acquired from Palm.

RIM’s tablet computer, expected in November, may be called the Blackpad. It is rumored to be about the same size as the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch diagonal screen. The device will include WiFi and Bluetooth, and allow people to connect to the Internet through BlackBerry smartphones.

Samsung, the world’s No.2 handset maker after Nokia, said its tablet PC will have a 7-inch display, smaller than the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad. It did not provide further details.

Samsung’s local rival LG Electronics, the world’s No.3 handset maker, also plans to introduce tablets or slate devices running on Android in the fourth quarter.

Microsoft said on Thursday it would introduce new tablets based on its Windows operating system and is working with PC makers Acer, Dell, Toshiba and others to develop the devices.

Global handset shipments rose 13 percent to 308 million units in the second-quarter of the year, according to new figures from Strategy Analytics. The firm cited lower-end 2G models in emerging markets, particularly South America, and high-end 3G touchscreen devices in mature regions as driving growth during the quarter.

Sprint EVO Phone Gets Froyo

Sprint’s HTC Evo, their WiMAX smartphone, will get Android 2.2 (Froyo) updates starting Tuesday, Sprint confirmed in a blog. The free update enables support for Flash video and external storage of applications, among other things.

The Evo smartphone will be the first to get the Froyo update, though the OS update is expected soon on other recently-released Android devices such as the Droid X. Its rollout has been followed with excitement by Android early-adopters on forums and blogs.

Sprint is the first wireless carrier to offer Android 2.2, but Android 2.2 began rolling out to the Nexus One more than a month ago. Sprint said the Froyo update will begin with wireless notifications to users sent in waves starting Tuesday, with the upgrade available to all users by mid-August.

For those who don’t want to wait, Froyo can be downloaded after next Tuesday by going to the Setting Menu on the Evo, then System Updates, then HTC Software Update to initiate the process.

The Evo, which shipped with Android 2.1, works on 4G cellular over Wimax where available and then reverts to 3G if a 4G network is not available. Evo has a 4.3-inch touchscreen, an HDMI output jack, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a number of other features.

Verizon Wireless said the Motorola Droid will receive the Android 2.2 update this week.

In other news, the FCC has approved the first LTE smart phone destined for MetroPCS. The Samsung SCH-R900 features a sliding QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth with stereo audio support, 802.11b/g WiFi radio, dual-band 1700/1900 dual-mode LTE/EVDO support and microSDHC expansion slot. It uses the 1700/1900MHz spectrum that MetroPCS owns for LTE, standard CDMA voice technology, and also has Wi-Fi.

Verizon Wireless has committed to launching LTE in 25 to 30 markets later this year, though the first devices to be available are more likely to be laptop dongles than phones.

$139 Kindle Wi-Fi

Today Amazon is introducing two new Kindles. A WiFi-only version costs $139, and a $189 3G version (utilizing AT&T’s network, just like the last model) now includes WiFi. Amazon will begin taking orders Thursday and the new models will begin shipping Aug. 27 to customers in 140 countries.

The units are 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter, with a 20 percent faster refresh rate on its E Ink screen. The screen remains the same 6-inch size as the last two Kindles, though the company claims page turns are faster and contrast is improved. The internal storage on the device is now 4GB, and the battery life is now rated at a month with no wireless, and 10 days with wireless switched on. The company also announced plans for a UK-localized version at £109 and £149, respectively, as well as a UK e-book store.

The keyboard and five-way controls have been streamlined and altered slightly. New software features include an “experimental” Webkit-based browser. “I like building a purpose-built reading device. I think that is where we can make a real contribution,” said Jeff Bezos in the Wall Street Journal.

Today’s digital reading market is larger and more competitive than it was when Amazon unveiled the current generation of Kindle 17 months ago. The First Generation Kindle was released only in the United States on November 19, 2007. Although Amazon releases no sales figures, many analysts believe Amazon has sold over 3 billion units over the last 2.5 years. Apple’s iPad is believed to has sold about the same number of units — in 2.5 months.

Analysts estimate Amazon still is the largest player in the market, but it now includes rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook, which has waged a battle with Amazon over prices. On the high end of the market, Amazon must compete with multi-purpose tablet computers, in particular Apple’s $499+ iPad, which comes with Apple’s competing iBookstore.

In June, Barnes & Noble lowered the price of its Nook to $199, and Amazon lowered the price of the Kindle to $189 just hours later. The WiFi-only Nook is $149. Barnes & Noble released a Nook for Android application, competing with similar Android/iPhone/iPad apps released from Amazon.

Major e-book retailers include Amazon (with their Kindle and their ebook store), Barnes & Noble (with their Nook eReader and their ebook store), and Apple (with their iPad and their ebook store). Google is expected to enter the market later this year.

ABI estimates about 11 million tablets will ship by the end of 2010. Over the next 5 years, Wi-Fi-enabled devices will go from over 500 million in 2009 to nearly 2 billion in 2014, according to In-Stat.

Related e-book articles on Dailywireless include; iPad Subscription Model Rejected?, $150 Android Tablet, 2010: 11 Million Tablets, Kindle Books Outsell Hardcovers, Tablets To Cannibalize Netbooks?, Sony Cuts E-Reader Cost, Kindle’s 70% Solution, Google: King of all Media?, WiFi Nook: $149, Free Download for iOS 4 Ready , Starbucks: Free WiFi + Free Content, Kindle Announces 70% Royalty Option, Media’s Primordial Soup: Tablets, Scribd Does HTML 5 Magazines, Tablets, Tablets, Tablets, E-Magazines: Pay Once, Play Anywhere, The $99 Android Tablet, Barnes & Noble: Self Publishing this Summer, Apple Sells 1M iPads, Google Editions: World’s Largest Virtual Bookstore?, Google Tablet for Verizon?, Android Outsells Apple, Flash Support in Android 2.2, Battle of the eBooks, Dell Android Tablet for AT&T/T-Mobile?, Google Tablet: Android or What?, and Tablet Revolution!