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First Responder Terminal Market To Exceed $3.6 Billion In 2013

Public-safety agencies' first-responder terminal market has been fragmented, but as it standardizes around new digital technology approaches, the market for terminals is expect to break out from $1 billion in 2007 to more than $3.6 billion in 2013.

That, at any rate, is the conclusion reached in a report released Thursday by ABI Research, which said the U.S. market is shaping up as offering the largest global opportunity for the terminals in the long run.

Global public-safety and other governmental agencies have been standardizing on new digital technologies, including the APCO/TIA Project 25 and the ETSI Tetra project.

"The public safety wireless communications market for technology and geographic location has solidified," ABI VP Stuart Carlaw said in a statement. "North America is dominated by Project 25, while the rest of the world seems set on the European-developed Tetra standard with isolated islands of P25 in the Asia-Pacific region and legacy Tetrapol in France."

The U.S. market has been challenged at times by the FCC's mandate that Sprint Nextel move its older iDEN spectrum away from the 800 MHz to better accommodate public-safety networks. Last week, Sprint said it has largely completed the task of aiding public-safety licenses to return "their systems to their new spectrum home."

The U.S. terminal market is dominated by Motorola.

While noting that the U.S. market has been "something of a laggard compared to markets in other regions," ABI said the North American first-responder terminal market appears to be poised to be the best opportunity going forward, fueled in large part by government funding.

In the United States, government grants are awarded to public-safety agencies for equipment and training, but the procedure can make coordination difficult.

"'First-responder terminal vendors," said Carlaw, "see the fragmented but huge and less mature U.S. market as the greatest opportunity [but] difficult due to technology choice and to Motorola's pre-eminent market position."