Contact: Paige Darden
March 16, 1998
Test Will Focus on Improving Emergency Communications between Local, State and Federal Officials

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), working with the Department of Defense, signed a landmark agreement today to authorize the state of Wisconsin to use federal radio frequencies to test a shared land mobile trunking communications system that will greatly facilitate communication during emergencies as well as during day-to-day communications.

"The ability to communicate between levels of government has been a tremendous challenge in the past, only overcome on an ad hoc basis in the midst of an emergency," said Larry Irving, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information. "We applaud the state of Wisconsin and the Department of Defense officials involved in this important project, and look forward to sharing test results with communities throughout the nation."

The state-of-the-art Pilot Trunked Radio System will allow the state of Wisconsin to work with federal, state and local officials to provide law enforcement protection and emergency management services, while also allowing state and local officials to use the system to provide local and routine services involving law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, hazardous materials control, corrections administration, forestry management, and highway safety services. There are a number of land mobile systems currently operated by federal agencies or by state and local governments around the country that provide communications during emergency operations to all levels of government. The Wisconsin Pilot project will, however, be the first system providing shared services on a day-to-day basis.

"The project represents a new era of cooperation between federal, state, and local government agencies to achieve interoperation of radio systems at all levels of government," said Irving.

The principal Federal sponsor in the Wisconsin Pilot system, the Department of the Army, is working with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to provide resources to develop the system. The pilot system will serve federal, state and local public safety and public service agencies in an area around Madison, Wisconsin and eventually throughout the state. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed by Mr. William Singletary, Administrator, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Ms. Cynthia Raiford, Deputy Director, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, C3I, on March 5, 1998.

The project will operate on frequencies in the 138-150.8 MHz range, currently assigned to the U.S. Department of the Army. It will use narrowband technology and will be capable of providing radio communications services in a digital mode. The agreement expires on July 1, 2001.

The Commerce Department's NTIA serves as the principal adviser to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and information issues and represents the executive branch before the Congress, other federal agencies, foreign governments and international organizations. Through its Office of Spectrum Management, NTIA manages the federal government's use of the radio spectrum. For more information, visit NTIA's homepage at