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New York public television station Thirteen/WNET is demonstrating an emergency response system that uses its broadband wireless spectrum: This is a really interesting idea. WNET has Instructional Television Fixed Services (ITFS) spectrum. The spectrum is in the same range as Multi-channel Mulitpoint Distribution Service (MMDS) frequencies but was distributed to educational and religious organizations. The vast majority of it has been seriously underused and for years these organizations have worked with various segments of the broadband wireless industry to find a use for the spectrum. WNET has found a great application. The most recent iteration of its trial network uses broadband wireless equipment from Nextnet, a company owned by Craig McCaw that is building products to the WiMax standard. Ultimately WNET hopes the system can supply two-way voice, data, and video communications.
The companies involved are showcasing their demo to lawmakers and believe that this type of network can be deployed in many cities where ITFS spectrum is under-used. This is really prime spectrum. Typically the spectrum that law enforcement uses is much lower on the band, which means it tends to support mainly voice or low bandwidth applications. But ITFS is high enough on the band that it can support higher-data rate applications like video, which could be useful to emergency response teams. This is an interesting potential use of WiMax which could prove profitable for vendors that target this segment.