As an operator of a public safety private mobile radio system, you face a complex set of challenges. How will you keep pace with rapid technological change? How can you profitably grow your network’s user base? What about cyber security? In truth, there are many more questions to which operators are seeking answers.
So how can public safety PMR operators ensure that their radio system reliably and securely supports the mission-critical operations of users, while addressing their evolving requirements? Modernisation is key to addressing these challenges.
Why you should invest in modernising your PMR network
What are the risks of not doing anything? Failure to invest in the PMR network infrastructure will introduce a number of risks
- Increased risk of system downtime due to aging hardware
- Vulnerability to cyber attacks
- Rising support costs due to obsolescence
- Increased unpredictability of network maintenance costs
- Inability to add new services and functionality required by users
The need to address these risks and increase service flexibility has led to a growing number of PMR operators investing in network modernisation. For example, concerns about cyber crime and the need to implement new functionality were key drivers of City of Cape Town’s decision to modernise its TETRA public safety network. Following the upgrade to the TETRA system, City of Cape Town realised improvements in cyber security through enhanced encryption support and also greater flexibility in adding new features and additional capacity to the network. Read about City of Cape Town’s network modernisation here.
To be effective, network modernisation must be part of a long term network sustainment plan that includes:
- Network updates covering both hardware and software
- Security updates
- 24 x 7 x 365 technical support
- Fast turnaround times for network hardware repairs
Enhancing your PMR service through broadband integration
Modernisation is not just about network sustainability – it’s also about supporting the evolving operational needs of users. Increasingly, broadband data services are being demanded by public safety organisations to enable increased in-field productivity, improved situational awareness and reduced operational costs. Additionally, broadband push-to-talk technology is allowing public safety organisations to extend the reach of their networks by leveraging the wide area coverage of commercial mobile networks.
But, a concern for the public safety community is whether mission-critical voice and data services delivered over broadband networks can match the performance and functionality of established PMR systems such as TETRA and APCO Project 25. With the ongoing standardisation work within 3GPP to introduce mission-critical functionality, the prevailing view is that PMR networks and 4G and 5G systems will coexist for many years in order to get the best of both worlds.
The good news is that PMR operators are uniquely positioned to address public safety needs and to offer a differentiated service. For example, PMR operators can use their existing Key Management Facility for the management and distribution of encryption keys to both radio and broadband users. This can be achieved today using Motorola Solutions LTE handheld devices equipped with the μCryptr hardware security module.
Modern PMR systems such as DIMETRA X Core provide seamless, wireline interfaces with broadband systems. Integration of broadband services with PMR unlocks value and creates a platform for delivering truly differentiated services. For example, by integrating broadband PTT technology with their networks, public safety PMR operators can target a new segment of non-radio users that require talkgroup interoperability from their smartphone devices. The addition of such services creates revenue generation opportunities, providing a vital funding source for ongoing network investments in support of the long term technology sustainment plan.
Forward-thinking PMR operators have already started adopting this self sustaining approach to network modernisation. For example, Spain’s Telecom Castilla-La Mancha recently transitioned their legacy TETRA system to the DIMETRA X Core platform - read the press release about it here. Integrated with the TETRA system was the WAVE interoperability solution, which enabled Telecom CLM to extend PTT communication across multiple platforms (radio, broadband networks, computers, smartphones) allowing users on different networks to be connected.
To unlock the full potential of your PMR system, it is vital that you work with the right technology partner. It is important that your technology partner can support you for the long term with the right level of service, technology expertise and experience in deploying public safety systems.
Ricardo Gonzalez is MSSSI VP EMEA Strategy and Marketing at Motorola Solutions