Many Governments and Public Safety Authorities around the globe are eager to embrace the potential that mobile broadband and the resultant data services can bring to frontline officers. Increased intelligence and efficiencies are all without doubt strong drivers for adoption. But this does not mean we will see mass migration to LTE from TETRA in the near term. There are huge complexities to be addressed on a case by case, and country by country basis which means the timeline for any transition at best could be described as fluid.
Tor Helge Lyngstøl, Director General, Norwegian Directorate for Emergency Communication (DNK) when questioned about the use commercial or dedicated LTE for Public Safety in Norway confirms that it is an avenue for definite investigation, but is quite clear that for Norway at least it is still very early days. Right now DNK is looking to see, “How we can get the most out of our brand new TETRA network, how we can get the benefits out of that.” You can watch Tor Helge speaking further here about the launch of the brand new TETRA network, the increasing demand for real-time data services, and the widespread potential of TEDS to develop a secure and relevant Public Safety voice and data communications solution.
We know that end users want to use data. Some nations or Public Safety agencies will be looking to build and own a LTE network, costly as that may be, while many more may opt to use commercial networks as services become available for Public Safety applications. There are pros and cons to both approaches. As a result, broadband is going to be available in a number of flavours, but right now many users are still looking to their current TETRA digital radio networks to provide the data services that they require. And they are happy to do so. But, they are highly aware that broadband exists; the question is how they will move towards this?
TETRA and LTE will be collaborative, and there will, for the foreseeable future, be a place for both technologies. There are two drivers for this. The first, and this remains critical for Public Safety organisations, is the guarantee of instantaneous group voice services, so there is a tremendous impetus to deliver a voice bridge between Private Mobile Radio and broadband networks. Second, it will take time for mission critical data applications over LTE to be adopted, though it is worth stating that many mission critical applications actually require modest data rates such as the location and status of an officer. This vital information is demanded during a crisis situation when a commercial network maybe overwhelmed or inoperable.
So there will be notable opportunities to drive more data over the digital radio network and this will require a very particular range of applications not only for TETRA, but that over time can equally operate over LTE as it becomes available. We envision that LTE will clearly provide a richer multimedia experience whilst TETRA provides a hardened set of vital information. And this means, that for a broad majority of Public Safety agencies TETRA will remain an integral facet of their critical communications for many more years.
Elvan Lindberg is Head of Communications, Europe and Africa, Motorola Solutions. Elvan is on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/pub/elvan-lindberg/5/461/994
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