Yesterday morning I had an opportunity to speak with John Kneur, Rivada Networks' Senior Vice President for External Affairs, about emergency responder communications and the upcoming FCC Spectrum Auction. State homeland security officials have struggled for years with the inability of local emergency responders to communicate with each other and their federal counterparts during disasters. This inter-operability problem is so serious it has been identified as the number one concern of state homeland security officials in the National Governors Association 2007 State Homeland Security Directors Survey. Here's a quote from the report:
I also wrote yesterday about the shutdown of Frontline Wireless and the decision by Cyren Call pull out of the D-Block Auction. With these two potentially top bidders gone, many are now wondering if the $1.3 billion reserve price on this piece of spectrum will be met by any bidder. As a result, the FCC may end up looking at alternative solutions from companies like Rivada Networks.
Rivada uses existing cellular networks and commercial off-the-shelf technology to deliver high-speed voice and data services over a network that can survive natural or man-made disasters. Right now Rivada is working with National Guard units in 11 states (Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington). These units are installing new communications systems for voice and data services over a network that uses existing commercial infrastructure. Not relying on a single network makes a lot of sense when you consider communications survival during natural or man-made disasters.
According to a Rivada press release, the Louisiana Army National Guard decided last year to adopt their interoperable public safety communications system for the following reasons:
- Is available today,
- Does not require new spectrum allocation or depend on federal spectrum auctions or mandates, and
- Offers far greater range and capability at a fraction of the cost of other existing or planned technologies.
- Building new towers in areas without sufficient commercial infrastructure;
- Employing Rivada Interoperable Communications Extension Systems (ICES) – “fly-in” units capable of being deployed within hours – where existing infrastructure has been degraded or destroyed;
- Using proprietary backwards-compatible technology to provide full interoperability between cell phones, PDAs, laptops, landlines and traditional ‘walkie talkie’-type Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems; and
- Combining all of these elements into an efficient network architecture.
The providers would build out, maintain and update the infrastructure....... I'm liking this kind of solution.