First responder broadband network should use unlicensed spectrum, says paper

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A national broadband network for first responders should be prepared to take advantage of unlicensed high frequency spectrum to augment its spectrum allocation, recommends a panel of experts appointed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In a paper (.pdf) dated Jan. 24, the NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology says unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4 gigahertz to 5 GHz spectrum, television white space and possibly even 60-100 GHz spectrum could augment the planned national broadband network. The committee paper doesn't take a position on whether the swath of 700 MHz spectrum known as the D block should be allocated to public safety.

In addition, the network should incorporate Internet protocol packet switching technology to permit ad hoc network formation, the paper says. "Use of the Internet Protocols does NOT necessarily imply use of the public Internet," it emphasizes.

The committee paper also suggests adoption of a federated authentication model, meaning that the network would not have a centralized database of all valid users. "Federation of the authentication system seems called for, so that a first responder joining a response team can be validated by reference to his or her 'home' organization," the paper states.

For more:
- download the paper, "Desirable Properties of a Nationwide Public Safety Communication System" (.pdf)

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