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 Post Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:40 pm 
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Motorola and public safety agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area plan to build an LTE network that will go live in early 2011. Meanwhile, the FCC approves MetroPCS' first LTE handset.

The San Francisco Bay Area will be getting a 4G LTE network in early 2011.

Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Solutions business and the public safety agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area announced July 29 a plan to begin installing a 700MHz Long-Term Evolution system later in 2010 that will serve agencies across the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Alameda County/Oakland, Contra Costa County and the cities of Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.

"This agreement represents a first step in realizing the BayRICS (Regional Interoperable Communications System) vision for a unified, state-of-the-art, mission-critical voice and broadband multimedia network," Laura Phillips, general manager of the Bay Area UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative), said in a statement.

Combining a hardened LTE overlay network with UASI's Project 25 voice and data networks, Phillips said, creates an opportunity to "equip our first responders with the advanced communications tools they need to better protect themselves and our communities."

Sheriff Gregory Ahern, with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, added that the deployment will have a "huge impact" on public safety conditions in the area. "This is one of the most, if not the greatest, technological advancements in my 30-year law-enforcement career, and it will have a huge impact on our [ability] to provide improved services to our communities," Ahern said.

Motorola earlier in 2010 announced plans to split into two separate companies, one consisting of its Mobile Devices and Home units and the other of its Enterprise Solutions and Networks units. In July, the Wall Street Journal first reported that Motorola was in talks with competitor Nokia Siemens Networks about selling off its wireless network infrastructure business. The sale, estimated at $1.2 billion, would reportedly enable Motorola to put more resources into its two remaining business areas—Motorola Mobility, focused on smartphones and televisions, and its public service and business radio systems business, Motorola Solutions.

Nokia Siemens Networks is currently also involved in a burgeoning LTE network called LightSquared. Backed by Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners, it would be the nation's first "wholesale" 4G LTE network, and would combine resources from Nokia Siemens Networks and satellite-communications company SkyTerra Communications.

While Clearwire, which is predominantly owned by U.S. carrier Sprint, is the nation's first 4G network based on WiMax, there's a still a race to flip the switch on the first U.S. LTE-based network. Likely frontrunner Verizon Wireless has reported that it is on track to roll out its LTE network in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Dual-mode 3G/4G handsets will be among the devices that will be able to take advantage of these speedy networks, and on July 29 the Federal Communications Commission approved the first LTE handset—the Samsung SCH-R900—for carrier MetroPCS.

The handset features dual-band 1700/1900 and dual-mode LTE/EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) support, a slide-out QWERTY keypad, WiFi and Bluetooth stereo connectivity, and a MicroSDHC slot. Samsung first introduced the handset at the CTIA Wireless trade show, paired with MetroPCS' announcement that it would roll out LTE service in Las Vegas in September—ahead of Verizon's LTE kickoff. That network, however, has yet to go live.

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