2015 marks an important developmental stage in the evolution of critical communications as Public Safety agencies seek to unify existing TETRA communications with a new generation of LTE based services. Looking forward to 2015 and beyond, for many customers we see a collaborative future where LTE and TETRA co-exist. We envision that LTE will provide a richer multimedia experience whilst TETRA provides a hardened set of vital information.
There are two main drivers for this. The first, and this remains critical for Public Safety organisations, is the guarantee of instantaneous work group voice services. So we see a tremendous impetus to deliver a voice bridge between Land Mobile Radio (LMR) and broadband networks. Second, in many cases it will take time for mission critical data applications over LTE to be adopted.
Supporting this process is the design of existing TETRA networks that can enable new services to be added when a customer secures LTE spectrum. In this way customers benefit from the best of TETRA and LTE whilst safeguarding existing investments. That said many mission critical applications actually require modest data rates. So there also remain opportunities to drive more data over the existing digital radio network. TEDS (TETRA Enhanced Data Service), for example, is optimised for greater data rates than standard TETRA and supports a variety of mission-critical data applications including: video streaming; license-plate checks; remote access to databases; and fingerprint scanning.
What is already clear as we move into 2015 is that a tiered system of applications is evolving derived from the requirements within Public Safety organisations. The demands of these applications, especially in the case of High Definition and real time video, are crossing from digital radio technology into the sphere of mobile broadband and this means using LTE in a more collaborative manner. The task facing many Public Safety agencies is to determine which applications they deem critical and which are dispensable in a crisis.
Applications which are predominantly safety based are immediately perceived as critical ‘must haves’. These are followed by ‘essential’ services which typically encompass applications for e-mail, biometrics, real-time video ingestion and analysis, mobile office capabilities and in particular remote database access. Applications offering non real-time video, SMS, Internet access and report/form submission systems are nice to have, but are neither essential nor a critical requirement.
One of government’s key communications concerns is the transfer of data between the back office and the front line, and this data needs to be presented and exchanged in an accessible, highly secure and meaningful way. In order for this to occur, existing Public Safety TETRA applications need to be accessible and easy to migrate to, or co-exist with LTE. Our strategy is to present a unified interface so Public Safety agencies can deploy any application with the confidence that they can be easily transferred between TETRA and LTE when the need arises. This means there is going to be an increasing focus on middleware which bridges these applications so that they can run seamlessly over devices (both TETRA and LTE) with the equivalent levels of quality and service. For the customer this middleware, although crucial, is going to effectively be invisible. Ultimately what they see and what they care about are the applications that are being delivered to officers operating everyday on the frontline.
David Parry is Director, EA Marketing. David is on LinkedIn at uk.linkedin.com/in/davidgparry
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