NCS unveils priority cellular service

The National Communications System today is introducing its first cellular priority telephone service, said Peter Fonash, chief of NCS' technology and programs division.

The service will be available in New York by the end of the month and will be rolled out nationwide by next December, Fonash said at the E-Gov Homeland Security Conference in Washington.

The service mirrors the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service, which gives 70,000 government users priority access to the nation's wireline telecom networks. The National Security Council mandated the wireless priority service in the wake of last year's terrorist attacks.

As a stopgap measure, special phones were distributed for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, giving priority access to the VoiceStream satellite service, and 5,000 phones have been distributed in Washington and New York. But the Federal Communications Commission waiver under which this service operates expires at the end of this month.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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