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U.S., Mexico To Build Cross-Border Network

U.S. and Mexican agencies will work together to build a voice, data, and video network that will be used for cross-border public safety and law enforcement.
An agreement signed this week sets the stage for a new public safety and law enforcement network that extends between the United States and Mexico.

The agreement, signed by the United States-Mexico High-Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications, establishes a bilateral working group to oversee construction of the network, which will be used for public safety and law enforcement. The planned Cross Border Public Security Communications Network will let federal, state, local, and tribal safety and law enforcement agencies communicate using voice, data, and video.

The working group is chaired by the Department of Homeland Security and the government of Mexico. Participating agencies include the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the FCC, Department of State, and Mexico's Secretariat of Communications and Transportation and Secretariat of Public Security.

The network is expected to cost $7 million to build, with costs offset by the fact that much of the infrastructure is already in place. Once operational, it will be managed by Homeland Security and the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.

The working group is responsible for establishing a group to install, operate, and maintain the network and for inviting agencies to participate. It plans to keep the technical architecture confidential as a way of maximizing cybersecurity.

The network will be primarily hard-wired, though it will reuse existing cross-border wireless links. As part of the project, NTIA and Homeland Security will need to assign radio frequencies to protect the network from interference.

The two countries have been working on a plan to improve cross-border communications for two years, and signed the final agreement on Sept. 1. It's unclear when the network will be operational. A State Department spokesman said it would be up and running "as soon as funding, logistics, and other issues are resolved."

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