Public-safety agencies get new channels

Public-safety agencies get new channels

Incompatible equipment and congested communications frequencies have hampered rescue workers at disasters such as the Oklahoma City bombing. The Federal Communications Commission has issued rules to ensure that federal, state and local public-safety agencies can communicate.

The commission adopted interoperability standards and set aside 24 MHz of spectrum for fixed and mobile services. The standards will allow not only voice traffic but also short e-mail messages.

The new 700-MHz public-safety band doubles the total spectrum available. The catch is that there are still some TV stations on these frequencies. Until analog TV service ends'which won't occur until 2007 at the earliest'public-safety users must ensure they don't interfere with TV broadcasts.

'J. Sweeney

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