Walkie-talkie update plan gets a big 10-4

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Walkie-talkie update plan gets a big 10-4

Devices using long-term evolution (LTE) technology will soon replace old-school walkie-talkies for use by law enforcement, fire and medical personnel at the scene of disasters and emergencies. The high-speed data network will allow multimedia communication, which is critical for making quick decisions.

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning this week announced that the National Policy Coordination Meeting on Thursday gave final approval of its recommendation.

“At a disaster scene, the initial response is so significant it is called the ‘golden time,’” said Kang Seong-ju, director general of information convergence policy at the Science Ministry. “Our next-generation emergency communication network will be available for all emergency and disaster-related government organizations. I hope this encourages even greater communication and cooperation.”

When the network is completed by 2017, firefighters, soldiers, police officers, emergency rescuers and maritime police at 21 public administration agencies will be the first to use LTE-enabled walkie-talkies.

The government plans to purchase an independent frequency bandwidth reserved for emergency and rescue communications to avoid using commercial bands that can be unstable.

The technical viability of both the network and devices will be tested next year in Pyeongchang, Gangwon.

The system is expected to launch in rural provinces by the end of 2016 and in Seoul, Gyeonggi, and five cities in 2017. The government hasn’t decided what agency will operate the system.

The United States, which implemented an LTE system two years ago, created a state-run agency called First Net to handle operations.

The ministry says the total budget for the project is estimated at 2 trillion won ($1.9 billion), and businesses to build and test the network and infrastructure will be chosen by the end of the year.

BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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