22 agencies get deal for priority cellular service

The National Communications System, which represents 22 federal agencies, has awarded the first contract for nationwide Wireless Priority Service to T-Mobile USA Inc. of Bellevue, Wash.

The service is the cellular equivalent of the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service, which overrides normal wireline phone traffic for the benefit of national security and emergency personnel during a crisis.

The first phase of the wireless program gave limited priority to authorized users in Washington and New York after Sept. 11, 2001, and in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Olympic games. The second phase puts authorized users at the head of the queue for an open cellular channel when they dial a number with a WPS prefix.

The service is now available only on wireless networks using the Global System for Mobile communications standard, and T-Mobile is the first carrier to provide it.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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