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DC Startup Wants Cellphones to Work After Disasters

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Seconds after an unusual earthquake shook DC in 2011, people frantically reached for their cellphones. But many calls didn't go through, including those for first responders. The same thing happened after the Boston Marathon bombings and numerous other crises. A DC-area tech company has a fresh $4M and 20 patents to solve the problem.

DC Startup Wants Cellphones to Work After Disasters

Overly crowded spectrum is partly responsible for dropped calls and blocked lines. Digital Global Systems has spent the last two years developing a hardware and software platform that tracks the spectrum the FCC allocates to first responders for interference. Released in March, it has major commercial and government clients and will use its new funding to expand even further, says CEO Fernando Murias, right, with SVP Jeremy Levin.

DC Startup Wants Cellphones to Work After Disasters

Its technology is also relevant as the FCC pushes for spectrum sharing, says SVP Joe Baeumel. The platform would be able to determine the best spectrum for companies to share. The FCC will also auction off more spectrum, which will only increase demand for monitoring, he adds. DGS clients include three prime US telecom firms, one large public safety network, two large federal agencies and five of the seven major railroads. (Seven? Our Monopoly board is way off.) Fernando says the startup will target other areas like port authorities that need better frequency coordination as large ships come into port.