(Not Broadband Wireless Internet Access per se, but I felt these developments to be significant)
Capital Wireless Integrated Network (CapWIN)
CapWIN is the first of many regional "overlay" wireless communications systems that will connect various public safety agencies in an ad-hoc manner. Public Safety agencies have generally done a good job, within budget and spectrum limitations of setting up communication links and interoperability between their respective systems for the types of situations they can reasonably anticipate. The problem comes when they're faced with a situation that they haven't anticipated and interoperable communications can't be set up quickly enough to deal with the emergency. Reading between the lines of the various announcements, what this system sounds like is an "overlay" that will interconnect, as needed, existing communications systems and will allow users in other jurisdictions query databases previously inaccessible to them. CapWIN has a budget of $20M, will involve 40 local, state, and federal agencies, and be designed to serve 10,000 users. The most visible part of CapWIN is an Instant Messaging system based on Jabber that can be accessed from laptops, messaging PDAs such as Blackberrys, and data-capable mobile phones. Kudos to contractor for IBM for choosing Jabber, with its open source philosophies, instead of a proprietary messaging system.
CapWIN Links: CapWIN Project dc.Internet.com IBM Press Release Infoworld (no press release from Jabber - how clueless!)
Motorola Fireground Communcications System
This development sounds long overdue. The FCS integrates five previously separate systems including a portable repeater. The provides the incident commander with "at a glance" status of all participants in a fire, with coded transponders integrated into their radios. Presumably even a brief "Help" would allow the incident commander to figure out which firefighter is in trouble. The onsite repeater will undoubtedly be welcome, especially in dense urban environments where firefighters have trouble communicating between floors with their portable radios.
This application - tracking the location of firefighters in a burning structure, is a perfect use for Ultrawideband technology. UWB can track position very, very accurately and is one of the most promising potential applications for its use. Unfortunately, that potential may well not be realized because of the way-too-conservative nature of ultrawideband rules.
Comments are always welcome!