Motorola to Build LTE Public-Safety Network for Bay Area (7/29/10)
Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Comments

Motorola agreed with the public-safety agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area to build a $6 million pilot 700 MHz Long Term Evolution (LTE) system. As part of the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System (BayRICS) 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.

The broadband system provides an overlay to the existing Project 25 (P25) standards-based IP cores and networks. The LTE system will be installed this year, and the pilot, called Cornerstone, is expected to be operational in early 2011. The 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 applications delivered over the new broadband network. The full network will take several years to build out, said Motorola executives.

“Motorola was selected as our partner for the pilot, Cornerstone, and our public/private partnership, building out about 190 sites if we are successful with the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP),” said Laura Phillips, general manager of the Bay Area UASI. “We are closely following other potential funding sources to add additional sites.”

Cornerstone is funded with $6 million in Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) funds. Future buildout of the network beyond the demonstration project will be funded from BTOP or other federal grants, said Phillips. Motorola in April applied for $50 million in federal broadband funds to help the Bay Area UASI build and operate a broadband public-safety network called the Bay Area Wireless Enhanced Broadband (BayWEB). Those grants are scheduled to be awarded later this year.

Phillips said the region plans to share as much information as possible with other jurisdictions about the project. “The Bay Area had heavy participation in the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) broadband task force and will continue heavy participation with that body,” said Phillips. “Our intent is to learn and share as much as possible for all of the interested stakeholder groups as we embark in this pioneering effort. I have been discussing our project with the other waiver seekers and will plan for regular updates through that group and the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) operator advisory committee (OAC) as we coordinate our efforts.”

This will be a private and public type of system,” said Bob Schassler, Motorola senior vice president, worldwide radio solutions. “There will be a private system, and users will be able to roam onto the public systems.” He said Motorola officials would help work with commercial carriers on roaming agreements, site sharing and other issues. The network will include current pubic-safety sites, sharing sites with commercial carriers and perhaps a few new sites.

“It’s a major R&D (research and development) investment we’ve made,” Schassler said. “We think this is going to be a profound change in the way policing is done in the future.”

“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,” Phillips said. “Combining a public-safety hardened LTE overlay network with our P25 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.”

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