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Radio gear targets emergency spectrum

Wireless companies begin to unveil products that work in a spectrum meant for the exclusive use of emergency workers, but that band is still occupied by TV broadcasters.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
Wireless equipment makers are beginning to unveil radio products that work in a spectrum meant for the exclusive use of emergency workers.

Motorola introduced base stations on Monday that create a private radio network for emergency workers. Last year, Motorola and others began selling handheld radios that worked in the set-aside spectrum, located within the 700MHz to 800MHz bands. Other equipment makers are expected to follow suit.

Start-up Flarion, along with global aerospace and defense company Northrup Grumman, is trying to sell federal regulators on the idea of a nationwide wireless network for emergency workers. The network could find a home in the set-aside 700MHz swath, said Ronny Haroldsvik, senior director of marketing strategy at Flarion.

Flarion, which makes wireless equipment meant to replace the cables needed to deliver broadband Web access into homes and offices, has already been testing its equipment inside the 700MHz band.

Although the technology is moving forward, regulatory and political issues still surround the set-aside spectrum. Most of the 700MHz band is still occupied by television broadcasters, which have told the Federal Communications Commission that they would move to different areas as they make a transition into digital television, but they haven't set a date for the move.

TV stations in just half the nation's largest urban areas have cleared their space, said Stu Overby, Motorola director of global spectrum standards and technology asset strategy.

"Congress must take steps to clear that spectrum," he said.