TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Wireless Tech to be Deployed For Katrina

Wireless Tech to be Deployed For Katrina

Matthew Fordahl (
Sat, 10 Sep 2005 13:51:47 -0500

By MATTHEW FORDAHL, AP Technology Writer

A high-speed wireless networking technology that's still being tested
around the world will be deployed at an evacuation shelter and other
spots on the U.S. Gulf Coast hit by Hurricane Katrina.

The technology called WiMax will bring the Internet to remote areas
where the existing infrastructure has been destroyed or never existed.
The network will be used for Internet telephone service and
information exchange.

Intel Corp., a major WiMax supporter and maker of chips, shipped
equipment Thursday to San Antonio's decommissioned Kelly Air Force
Base where thousands of evacuees are being taken. The gear is expected
to arrive on Friday.

A group of wireless Internet providers called is working
with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots at the shelter and areas
hit by the storm.

But those hotspots need to connect to the wider Internet to be most
useful -- and that's where WiMax comes into play, said Nigel Ballard,
a manager Intel's state and local government unit.

"They were missing a very vital -- and some would say expensive --
piece of the jigsaw, and that's the ability to put up a wireless
solution to actually get the signal in and out of a fairly substantial
Air Force base," he said.

The WiMax equipment will be able to handle carry signals about 15
miles to what's known as a Point of Presence on the Internet. The
bandwidth both upstream and downstream is expected to be about 45
megabits per second -- 30 times the speed of a standard 1.5 megabit
per second DSL connection.

Similar efforts involving WiMax are underway in the disaster area as
well, and Intel has donated equipment for use in other parts of the
Gulf Coast.

WiMax, short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, has
been mentioned as a possible alternative to cable modem and Digital
Subscriber Line services offered by cable and telephone
companies. It's also touted as a tool to connect emerging markets to
the Internet.

But its potential in the United States has been clouded by spectrum
questions. The 3.5-gigahertz band that's being used in tests elsewhere
has been reserved for the military in the U.S. In addition, no WiMax
equipment has been certified for compliance with the WiMax standard
that was set just last year.

For the disaster recovery, the airwaves are not a problem, Ballard
said. The Federal Communications Commission granted an emergency
license for the spectrum use on Thursday.

On the Net:

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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