Work starts on emergency network in Iraq

A nationwide trunked radio network is expected to go live next year in Iraq, providing secure wireless communications to the country's emergency services.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  November 16, 2004

A nationwide trunked radio network is expected to go live next year in Iraq, providing secure wireless communications to the country's emergency services. Work has started on the project, which will equip Iraq's police, firefighters and other emergency personnel with phones allowing walkie-talkie type calls, location tracking and access to data applications. Lucent has been provided with a task order to design and implement the first responder network (FRN), which will use the European Telecoms Standardisation Institute (ETSI)-devised technology, terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA). The project forms part of a US$75 million contract awarded to Lucent in March 2004 by the US Department of Defense, to help rebuild Iraq's battered telecoms infrastructure. The vendor wouldn't provide detailed information on the locations where the FRN will initially be deployed or the number of employees involved in the project, citing security reasons. But it said that it had started the "initial implementation" of the network. "It's anticipated that this will be a nationwide system and that it will be up and running in mid-year 2005," said a spokesperson for the firm. The network will be purely targeted at Iraq's emergency personnel, rather than commercial organisations. An un-named supplier is providing the TETRA equipment as part of a sub-contract with Lucent. Conceived as a replacement for ageing analogue radio systems, TETRA is gaining increasing traction in the Middle East. Implementations of the technology have recently been announced in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon and Kuwait. The TETRA Memorandum of Understanding, which promotes the standard, also claims that over 500 contracts to deploy it have now been signed in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

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