Northrop Grumman wants more broadband spectrum

Northrop Grumman Corp. has asked the Federal Communications Commission for a rule that would allow an additional 10 MHz of broadband spectrum for advanced wireless applications needed by first responders.

"Wireless technology will rapidly change over the next three to four years as the transition is made [in] public safety," said Mike Grady, chief technology officer with Northrop Grumman's Information Technology sector. "The adaptation of software-defined radios and the reallocation of spectrum will address interoperability as well as adaptation of broadband services."

More spectrum would strengthen the national effort to adequately meet emergency response and homeland security needs of public safety organizations; permit federal, state and local authorities to deploy advanced, broadband, wireless, high-speed data applications; meet critical interoperability needs; and serve the public interest, Grady said.

Northrop Grumman IT has asked the FCC to consider the merits and viability of particular spectrum bands to meet this need, and to identify spectrum to establish a nationwide Internet Protocol-based interoperable communications network that will support broadband services.

The company has specifically requested comment on adding 10 MHz of spectrum, located below 3 GHz, preferably at 747-752 and 777-782 MHz, or elsewhere in the 700 MHz band.

"Any new allocation of public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz band must enable use of advanced, next-generation broadband technologies that are available today that Congress may not have envisioned when it allocated public safety spectrum in 1997," Grady said.

"While the commercial world continues to move toward third-generation broadband wireless technologies, the public safety and law enforcement community is prevented from taking advantage of any updated applications because the present public safety spectrum allocation cannot be used to deploy advanced broadband services," said Royce Kincaid, program manager, wireless initiatives, with Northrop Grumman IT TASC. "The situation is especially hazardous to first responders given their paramount role in homeland security and fighting terrorism."

The company is seeking expeditious consideration of its petition by the FCC to allow industry comments on its specifics.

Northrop Grumman is based in Los Angeles. It employs more than 117,000 people worldwide, and its 2002 revenue was $26.9 billion.

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