Learn, Define And Develop The Evolution Of Critical Communications

Posts tagged ‘TETRA’

What kind of Critical Communications networks and services can the next generation of users expect to access?



At Critical Communications World, 31st May – 2nd June 2016, RAI Amsterdam we will be looking at how Mission Critical Communications end user requirements are evolving today, for tomorrow and the next decade. The programme will also closely evaluate how to get the most from existing TETRA networks, sharing best practice with Users from around the world and monitoring the development of Mission Critical Mobile Broadband. DOWNLOAD PREVIEW BROCHURE

You may have questions about how TETRA and LTE will co-exist for Mission Critical Users. What will be the voice and data requirements for Users in the short, medium and long term and how will these needs be met by existing infrastructure and forthcoming investments? Also, what is the future for TETRA?


Latest findings from I.H.S suggests that “the use of LTE in private cellular networks is projected to grow tenfold between 2014 and 2019”

“Not only is LTE is being chosen in many regions as the technology for commercial cellular communication but it is now also being considered as a future broadband standard for critical communications users; the option of private LTE networks already a reality.

IHS has recently produced an in-depth analysis of the rapidly growing broadband market in critical communications for the next five years. A key finding from the research is that the use of LTE in private cellular networks is projected to grow tenfold between 2014 and 2019.
Although IHS forecasts that, long-term, the majority of private networks will migrate to LTE, the transition will be slower than previously projected. WiMAX will ultimately be displaced both in private LTE markets and commercial cellular market” (I.H.S, 2015).


To get your questions answered and to understand more about the future of networks and services join us for Critical Communications World, 31st May – 2nd June 2016, RAI Amsterdam.


 Join us for Critical Communications World, 19 – 21 May, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

downloadLTE is rapidly being considered by public safety organisations worldwide as an important solution for mission critical mobile broadband communications. Momentum is gathering around LTE for public safety thanks to its thriving ecosystem, spectrum flexibility and performance metrics, particularly in the Middle East and US.

However, the transition to LTE is one of the most complex technical challenges the public safety communications industry faces today and there is much to discuss and resolve to achieve further adoption.

This year’s Critical Communications World 2015 conference programme will bring together 200+ Senior Leading Speakers to address the operational models, latest developments and deployment of Public Safety LTE.

Is migration to LTE inevitable or just a complimentary technology for years to come? How can customer demands be met for both critical voice and high-speed data?


Join the following LTE Focus Sessions at Critical Communications World 2015

Wednesday 20th May 2015

10.35 Meeting The Critical Communications Needs Of The Future: Evolving TETRA For New Services For Users And Tools For Operators
– Outlining the need for new services and tools as well as the provision of TETRA over LTE

•Frédéric Miran, Head of Products Portfolio – Secure Land Communications, Airbus Defence and Space

Thursday 21st May 2015

10.10 PANEL DISCUSSION: Exploring The Operational Models For – Deploying LTE For Professional Users
– How much data? When, where and how? What is mission critical?
– Choosing the right operational model for deploying a critical communications broadband network
– Is commercial cellular suitable for public safety?
– What’s the timeline for deploying LTE? Suitability of Integration with existing critical communications networks
– Challenges – spectrum, standardisation, budget

•Tero Pesonen, Chair, TCCA CCBG
•Robert Horvitz, Director, Open Spectrum Foundation
•Emmanuelle Villebrun, French Ministry of Interior
•Ross Macindoe, Head of Future Networks, Airwave
•Sue Lampard, President, British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials
•Jeff Spaeth, Corporate Vice President, Systems and Software Enablement, Motorola Solutions
10.50 Evolving Critical Communications To Meet User Demands
– Which mission critical services do users need the most in times of emergency?
– How can customer demands be met for both critical voice and high-speed data?
– Is migration to LTE inevitable or just a complimentary technology for years to come?

•Richard Sun, Vice President, ZTE Trunking

11.50 Deploying Highly Mobile LTE Networks And Coverage For Tactical Missions
– Determining the requirements for deployable networks and coverage systems for defence forces
– Combining TETRA and LTE to enable the parallel use of all TETRA voice services and broadband data transmission
– Evaluating the experience of deploying LTE for the German Military
– Results from trialling a moving base station, radio range, data transfer rate, performance while moving and interfaces to other systems

•Andreas Wack, Lieutenant Colonel, German Armed Forces

12.10 EvaluatingThe Latest Developments For Mission Critical Communications – TETRA + LTE
– Mission critical networks evolution
– Simplifying the move to LTE
– Leveraging the existing networks

•Felix de la Fuente, Senior VP Sales and Marketing, Teltronic

12.30 3GPP Mission Critical – Working Group SA6 – The Steps Toward’s Fully Standardised Mission Critical LTE
This presentation will cover 3GPP application elements and interfaces supporting specialised communication (e.g. Mission Critical Push To Talk), including:
– General application architectural aspects
– Functional interactions
– Allocation of functions to particular subsystems and elements
– Generating information flows
– Identification of Application protocols

•Stephen Andrew Howell, Convenor 3GPP TSG SA WG6 and Technical Specialist, UK Home Office

Find out more and register as a conference delegate or FREE exhibition visitor here

Motorola Solutions Wins TETRA Radio Tender in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

  • 25,000 TETRA radios will be used by 1,500 non-police public safety organisations
  • Contract includes TETRA digital radios, accessories, training and logistics services
April 01, 2015 06:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Motorola Solutions has been selected as the provider of 25,000 digital Terrestrial Trunked Radios (TETRA), accessories, training and logistics services by the Central Procurement Office of Schleswig-Holstein AöR (GMSH).

“Many specialists participated in this process, including several members of fire services and voluntary fire brigades, as well as emergency services and civil control, who worked on this important project during their leisure time

The Motorola Solutions devices, accessories and services will be used by 1,500 non-police public safety organisations, including all emergency services, public and private fire departments, and civil protection agencies in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.

“Many specialists participated in this process, including several members of fire services and voluntary fire brigades, as well as emergency services and civil control, who worked on this important project during their leisure time,” said Lars Ohse, divisional head of GMSH. “The results of comprehensive evaluations, as well as economic reasons and the ease–of-use of Motorola Solutions’ radios, led to this important decision.”

The contract includes the delivery of MTP850 FuG TETRA portable radios, MTP850Ex ATEX TETRA portable radios and MTM800 FUG TETRA vehicle mobile radios and accessories. Within the scope of the four-year contract framework, Motorola Solutions is responsible for on-site training and guidance, engineering support, software updates and a help desk function.

“Winning the latest competitive tender for supplying Schleswig-Holstein with TETRA radios and support underlines the confidence, trust and reputation for technological leadership we have earned by successfully providing mission-critical solutions to public safety agencies in Germany and worldwide,” said Christoph Thomas, vice president, Western Europe & North Africa Region, Motorola Solutions. “This project will equip fire departments, emergency services and civil protection agencies in Schleswig-Holstein with the best tools available to respond to mission-critical situations quickly, reliably and effectively.”


  • Motorola Solutions’ MTP850 FuG TETRA portable radios for mission-critical communications deliver fully integrated voice and data services providing up-to-date intelligence for informed decision-making for users such as fire fighters and rescue forces.
  • Motorola Solutions’ MTP850 FuG TETRA portables support the highest level of end-to-end encryption in accordance with the requirements of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) for highly secure communication. They also support GPS with a “man down” sensor, ensuring that life-threatening situations are automatically identified, located and resources quickly deployed.
  • The MTP850Ex ATEX TETRA portable terminal from Motorola Solutions provides high- quality communication with comprehensive user safety and class-leading ATEX specifications for use in potentially explosive environments.
  • Motorola Solutions’ MTM800 FuG TETRA vehicle mobile radio offers five different variations to suit specific operational requirements.
  • The police in Schleswig-Holstein have been using TETRA digital radios from Motorola Solutions since 2010.
  • Motorola Solutions also supplies TETRA digital radios, equipment and management to German security forces in the federal states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and federal security organisations.


Website: Motorola Solutions

Twitter: @MotSolsEMEA

LinkedIn: Motorola Solutions

About Motorola Solutions

Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) creates innovative, mission-critical communication solutions and services that help public safety and commercial customers build safer cities and thriving communities. For ongoing news, visit www.motorolasolutions.com/newsroom or subscribe to a news feed.

MOTOROLA, MOTO, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC and are used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2015 Motorola Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.


Elvan Lindberg
Motorola Solutions
Mobile: +46 707448893
Susanne Stier
Motorola Solutions
Mobile: + 49 1726161773

Critical communications market to deliver sustained growth in Asia

TETRA + Critical Communications Association

Kuala Lumpur, 23 March 2015: TETRA market growth of 11 per cent in Asia is predicted by global research organisation IHS, as the Critical Communications Asia event opens today at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Critical Communications Asia is open to all interested in the Asia-Pacific critical communications market, focussing on the public safety, security, transport, utilities and industrial sectors. The conference and exhibition will look at technology choices and innovations available now and in the future, exploring TETRA user experiences and critical broadband solutions.

“The TETRA terminals installed base in Asia is set to grow by 11 per cent by 2018, mostly driven by significant uptake in Oceania, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. TETRA terminals shipments are expected to reach almost 200,000 in 2018,” said Elizabeth Mead, Senior Analyst, Critical Communications, IHS.

“TETRA technology now represents 24 per cent of the digital technology market for LMR worldwide, and has achieved record shipment growth of 17 per cent in 2014 in the EMEA region. TETRA remains a favourite for many nationwide rollouts, given the exceptional functionality available. Even with an increase of digital technologies like DMR or dPMR, the TETRA market continues to develop,” said Elizabeth Mead.

IHS further estimates that there still remains a significant LMR analogue installed base (more than 70 per cent) of existing mobile radio users) that are yet to convert to digital, indicating that the potential for growth of TETRA technology across all major regions remains strong.

IHS is projecting more and more success for TETRA in regions traditionally not necessarily considered strongholds of the technology. The success TETRA has in the European arena is now being emulated in other markets, where new devices that offer enhanced capabilities including ATEX and covert capabilities are now gaining traction in the public safety and security markets.

Source: http://www.tandcca.com/about/article/23643



The 2015 Critical Communications World agenda will be brought to life by experts from six continents, sharing the global perspective on the future of Critical Communications. Each speaker is ready to share their experiences of developing, using and evolving Mission Critical networks and services with you.

Through direct case studies, in-depth interviews, interactive discussions and educational seminars you will leave the event fully updated and inspired.

Click here to book Save €100 if you book before 27th February




  • Rudy De Waele, Digital Transformation Strategist


  • Tor Helge  Lyngstol, CEO, DNK
  • Minna Nyman, Operations Manager, Rakel
  • Daniel Haché, Director of External Relations, ASTRID
  • Barbara Held, Head of Directorate – General Policy, BDBOS
  • Jarmo Vinkvist, CEO, Suomen Virveverkko  
  • Ross Macindoe, Head of Future Networks, Airwave 


  • General Ilkka Korkiamäki, Chief of C4 (J6) and CIO, Finnish Defence Forces
  • Emmanuelle Villebrun, French Ministry of Interior
  • Andreas Wack, Lieutenant Colonel, German Armed Forces
  • Roberto Moreno, RESCAN
  • Thomas Sylvest, Copenhagen Fire Department
  • Dr. Ing. Markus Rauch, Coordination of the Regional Radio Services, Office for Civil Protection, Autonomous Province of Bozen – South Tyrol
  • Edival NOVAES, Undersecretary of Technology, Secretariat of Public Security of Rio de Janeiro State 
  • Chris Dreyfus, Chief Inspector, British Transport Police


  • Wilson Kwok, Senior Communication Engineer, The Hong Kong Electric Co.   
  • Philippe Massy, Head of Radio Networks, SNCF
  • Neptali Mayorga, Transportadora de Gas del Peru
  • Petri Nieminen, Senior Advisor – Power Systems, National Emergency Supply Agency, Finland
  • Gary Mason, RF and Systems Engineer, GE Transportation Systems 


Join 4,000 Critical Communications Professionals

Join us in May and benefit from a topical and varied conference programme, as well as the opportunity to attend the largest exhibition of Critical Communications equipment in the world. We anticipate attendance from 4,000 Critical Communications specialists including end-users, network operators, application providers, as well as network and device manufacturers. 
Find out more and register to attend here

TETRA has arrived in the Americas – Interview with Andy Schwartz, Director of Radio Communications, New Jersey Transit

TETRA_CongressAmericas - USE THIS ONE

17th – 18th November 2014
Hyatt Regency Orlando, Orlando, USA

TETRA has arrived in the Americas, bringing the guarantee of secure voice services alongside data services and applications that offer new efficiencies to Mission Critical Users. This year it has been used to ensure safety and security during the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

IIR recently interviewed, Andy Schwartz, Director of Radio Communications, New Jersey Transit on his experiences of using TETRA during the Superbowl.

IIR: How has the TETRA Network for New Jersey Transit developed in the last year?
AS: Since the past year, we have added over 1500 subscribers to our system and are operating throughout the State of New Jersey along our bus and light rail routes.  We continue to add base station sites as part of our initial project and are looking to expand coverage to serve the needs of our radio system users.

IIR: What were the challenges in preparing the network, services and users for the Super Bowl 2014?
AS: The Super Bowl was a large undertaking.  For radio coverage, there was significant coordination required between all local, state, and national level agencies participating in event along with the NFL.  In addition to developing an incident communications plan, public safety frequencies had to be coordinated with the NFL who handles coordination for all non-public safety users, both domestic and international, who were planning on using radio at event.  NJ TRANSIT went to the FCC with a request for Special Temporary Authorization using frequencies identified by our consultant for use at three major transit hubs serving the Super Bowl event.  The FCC was very helpful and quickly granted our request for a two-week period centered around the date of the game.  The final challenge was securing backhaul to connect our TETRA base stations to the core.  We used a variety of methods including in-house fiber, microwave, and leased circuits. (more…)

Critical Communications Middle East – Interview with Simoco

We recently interviewed Andy Grimmett, Simoco’s Head of Product Strategy and Chair of the DMRA ahead of IIR Telecoms event, Critical Communications Middle East, 14 – 16 September, Dubai.


IIR: You have been working in radio communications for over 20 years now, and been heavily involved with industry associations and working groups. Critical Communication technology has changed a great deal in that time, and is currently going through an intense period of innovation. What would you say has been the key factor in driving technology forward?

Simoco: When I first became involved with radio, everything was bespoke. We would do a project for a customer and assemble a big project team with lots of developers where we would write software for months, if not years, depending on the size of the project. The project becomes a success but, for the next one, we would reuse very little or none of it because the project was too tailored to the customer.

What has happened over time is that we are seeing a big drive towards to open standards. Customers now have a greater awareness of radio communications technology and, rather than choosing a tailored a solution, they want open standard, off-the-shelf technology that can be integrated together with their own systems.

Another key driver is the fact that we are seeing increased international competition thanks to the digital evolution. As consumers, we don’t think twice about buying goods online. Global communications has opened up the market. The internet has allowed companies anywhere in the world to respond to tenders, which is why international exports now account for a large proportion of Simoco’s turnover.

Likewise, organisations are now asking for digital mobile radio technology. TETRA and P25 have matured for the public safety industry but commercial firms are telling us that they want digital. The cost pressures have seen a drive towards Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) technology. We are seeing an increased use of data in communications and increased pressure on licensed frequencies, which are becoming a scarce resource in some areas – and it’s the latter that is bringing regulatory pressures in our industry, and digital is the enabler for that.

IIR: Each User organisation will have its own specific requirements around what it needs from a Critical Communication network. Is there a core group of requirements that you see consistently across all sectors?

Simoco: While we are seeing an increase in the use of data in communications, voice is still the killer app when critical communications is concerned. In an emergency situation, voice is currently the only trusted method for communicating an urgent message to response teams straight away and regardless of location.

LTE technology as a critical communications tool is gaining awareness but right now all sectors are still talking about voice, and this has advanced over time. Voice has been enhanced with priority calls, emergency calls, and different levels of group calls, which can be complemented with some but less critical data.

Across all sectors, we also regularly see the requirement for open interfaces for industry specific applications. Organisations want to interface their other systems with radio systems, reinforcing the importance of open standard extending beyond radio, and applying standards to external interfaces too.

IIR: Although the majority of radio systems are privately owned and operated, there has been increased interested in the Critical Communications market from Commercial/Public Mobile Network Operators. Beyond a potentially lower subscription cost, what are the unique selling points that an MNO can offer?

Simoco: A MNO can offer customers a shorter term commitment to a communications solution. An OPEX (rather than CAPEX) approach can help customers to manage their budgets and allow them to review their systems each year – rather than commit to a five or ten year plan. It’s also possible to grow or shrink the number of handsets quite easily as the organisation changes.

While MNOs can offer flexibility and what might seem as initial low cost, the downside is that organisations need a very good service level agreement (SLA). As they’d be using a public network, companies won’t have control over it and this will likely raise concerns over reliability and resilience.

IIR: A private network will often be more expensive, but will be designed specifically to meet the User requirement. Does the benefit of this justify the higher level of investment?

Simoco: There is a strong financial case for using a private network if an organisation is going to commit to the system long-term as, although it requires a one-off investment, it eliminates the need to spend money on call charges each month. If a company is going to invest in a private network, which typically has a 10 year life span, it might then put a financial case over seven years to get the justification.

On top of the financial benefit, organisations are guaranteed coverage when they need it most and that the network is reliable, and the infrastructure is sized appropriately so organisations can get acceptable levels of call contention. Being private, the network is also secure and users can select various different levels of encryption techniques. Finally, it’s possible to integrate systems with other sub-systems within the organisation, which is much easier to do than in a public network.

IIR: There has been a lot of debate around the necessity of Open Standards, as groups begin to explore Mobile Broadband. Why are Open Standards crucial, and what is the potential risk of ‘vendor lock in’ when opting for a proprietary solution?

Simoco: An open standard obviously means that an organisation has vendor choice. Once you have open standards, anyone with the resources and knowledge can go and implement that open standard. Being publicly available, there will be more than one vendor selling something so there will be increased competition on pricing. This means that as more vendors bring products and solutions to the market, supply will increase which ultimately gives the customer more choice and may also bring down costs.

The other big benefit is the long term commitment from the industry. Once you get many organisations bringing products with the same standard to market, it reinforces the long term commitment. If an organisation, for example, buys a system using the open standard but the vendor which provided that system falls onto hard times, the technology is still available from other vendors. As a result, customers will have the long-term assurance that their system will be supported.

The standard also tends to result in faster feature development than anything that is proprietary. We are seeing more and more companies becoming innovative and then putting those features and functions back into the open standard. This all adds to why there is a much lower risk of using an open standard than going down the single proprietary route.

IIR; Will one technology ever truly dominate the market for Critical Voice and Data communications? How important is it that Users have the freedom to individually assess each technology and decide what best suits their needs and limitations?

Simoco: I believe there won’t be one technology that dominates the market. If you buy a one size fits all t-shirt, it will fit most people but it won’t be the right size and shape for everyone.

Different technologies will always exist in a critical communications environment and it’s important that people buying those technologies individually assess each one. Some are clearly not suitable for critical communications, so technology can be narrowed down to a few solutions quite quickly. It’s then a case of analysing what is the best technology to suit the different needs of the customer.

IIR: In 20 years within this industry, you will have seen the birth, and development, of established technologies such as TETRA and DMR. You are now seeing the advent of Critical LTE. What do you think will define the next 20 years of Critical Communications?

Simoco: Private Mobile Radio (PMR) has been slow to develop when compared with commercial cellular technologies. If you look at the likes of iPhones and Android phones, they have developed at such a fast rate and this is purely due to the market being massive and people changing their phones every one or two years. Radio, on the other hand, isn’t a fashion accessory – it’s there to do a job and it’s a tool for organisations to use. The spend on it is therefore a lot smaller when compared with commercial cellular.

With a private mobile network, there is a requirement for customers to invest in the system for ten or more years and this means that they don’t want the technology to change too much. They have invested significant time and cost in implementing a network, so they will want to know that it will work in ten years’ time.

LTE is an interesting development. It was developed for the commercial mobile phone market. It has been developed to deliver high-speed data to deliver real time video. It’s now being offered as a radio solution – primarily for public safety. At the moment, a lot of work is being done to extend the LTE standard to see if it can the meet requirements of critical communications. If successful, it will tick the box that says it can deliver all of the functions and features expected from a radio network.

However, if an organisation is going to put critical communications users onto a public network, how reliable will LTE be in the event of an emergency situation? If, for example, there is a terrorist attack where a terrorist sets off bombs using a mobile phone network, there will undoubtedly be concerns as to how the emergency services can manage critical communications using the same backbone technology. It’s a very interesting time for PMR at the moment. The way LTE is developing, and how successful LTE is going to be, will have a big direction on the future of PMR. But it’s too early to tell yet.

IIR; Simoco will be exhibiting at Critical Communications Middle East, this September. As one of the world’s leading radio communications specialists, why is it important for you to make sure you have a significant presence at the exhibition?

Simoco: Simoco’s attendance at the event marks an exciting time for the company as the Middle East is one of our most profitable areas. Dubai is home to our key partners UCA (ICATS) and Modern Media and, most recently, Simoco was awarded a five-year contract by UCA to deliver an advanced DMR solution to Bahrain Airport.

The recent successes and lucrative partnerships in the Middle East have led to us opening a permanent office in Dubai, headed up by Ghassan El-Housseini who recently joined as business development director for Simoco Middle East, to support the UAE region and our clients.

Furthermore, the exhibition has rebranded and expanded beyond TETRA to something that is more open to other critical communications technology. Simoco is highly supportive of this move from being a single technology show to one that is promoting DMR and P25 to critical communications professionals.

IIR: Are there any groups you are particularly looking to meet in Dubai next month?

Simoco: We are particularly interested in meeting organisations in public safety and security, utilities, natural resources, transport, and government and public infrastructure. We are looking to show them the benefits of DMR and P25 – and how they can support the operational needs of companies – as well as share details of our recent wins including the deal with Bahrain Airport which I mentioned earlier.

IIR: What can visitors expect to see at the Simoco stand in the exhibition? And is there anything they should be getting excited for?

Simoco: Visitors to our stand (#B10) can see how our P25 range can deliver reliable and secure communications in conventional, simulcast and trunked architectures, and we will be showing how P25 simulcast is available in a single box solution.

On the DMR side, visitors can see our full duplex telephony which we have recently developed and we will be demonstrating the technology on our stand.

I will also be presenting on distributed architecture – specifically the advantages which include resilience, reliability and cost benefit at 13.50 on Tuesday 16th September.

Critical Communications Middle East takes place 14 – 16 September. For more information or to register as a delegate or FREE to attend exhibition visitor please click here

Critical LTE? | Critical Communications Middle East, 14-16 September, Dubai


Carl Smith of IIR’s Critical Communications World Series caught up with Tony Gray, Regional Business Director (MENA) with P3 communications GmbH, in advance of the Critical Communications Middle East event in Dubai, Sept 14-16 2014.

agy1aAs an independent consultant, serving Board Member and Director of the TETRA & Critical Communications Association (TCCA), as well as founder and immediate past chair of the TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG), Gray has intimate knowledge of, and strongly held beliefs about, the future of critical communications and the role the Middle East region can play in its development.

CS: Mobile broadband is something that is being talked about more and more throughout the Critical Communications community. LTE is the technology most are looking towards, as providing this capability. There are two options for those looking to offer or make use of Critical LTE: set up a private network, or use an existing commercial network through a specialised MVNO service or through a direct agreement with the MNO.

Taking the first option, what are the potential barriers organisations face in setting up their own LTE network?


TG: Taking the decision in principle, and then having the willingness and wherewithal in practice, to set up a dedicated private critical communications LTE network fundamentally comes down to three key factors in my view, i.e.:

  • Funding
  • Spectrum
  • Appetite, or perhaps more conventionally, justification of the value proposition.

Funnily enough – and I would say this wouldn’t I?  But addressing those three fundamentals was one of the core planks of the TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group’s original mandate when it was first set up more than 2 years ago, and it remains so today.

The first two of the above, funding and spectrum, are critically dependent on the availability (or not) of what are significantly scarce and valuable resources, i.e. money – both for CAPEX and OPEX – and adequate amounts of unencumbered and suitable spectrum. By ‘adequate and suitable’ spectrum we tend to mean an allocation comprising of the order of at least 10+10 MHz in a sub-1GHz band, preferably harmonised across and between regions, in order to satisfy capacity, range and penetration requirements.

Neither the significant amounts of money necessary to set up, run, and maintain critical-grade networks, nor the spectrum in which to operate them, are easily justified or found in today’s world, so these are both significant hurdles to overcome in themselves.

Then comes the “appetite”, or business case for critical broadband in the first instance. What are the very first questions any budget holder and / or spectrum regulator is likely to ask when we go cap in hand asking for the money and spectrum? “Why?” and “What for?”.

These are not easy questions to answer for the meantime, particularly in an environment where many critical users already have access to perfectly serviceable, capable and proven voice and narrowband data services delivered by TETRA and other similar technologies.

What is the value-added for broadband? What will be the “killer app.” that justifies the case for extending broadband capabilities to critical users? The honest answer for now is we just don’t know, but we simply feel that if the general public has access to broadband services, video streaming, high-speed data transfer, smartphone apps. and the like, then surely critical users must also be able to benefit from such capabilities?

CS: The other option is to look at existing MNOs. Despite increasing interest in this market from MNOs, why is there still a level of scepticism and caution from the Critical Communications community?

TG: Commercial MNOs have one – and in my view only one – key advantage when it comes to delivering wide area network services, and that is scale. The sheer size of their user bases, typically measured in many millions, dramatically dwarfs the critical communications community, whether it be for PPDR, transportation, utility or whatever similar application.

But, and of course there has to be a ‘but’, commercial MNOs’ business models have, to date at least, been predicated on delivering a best-efforts service which is not mission critical grade and on a population-coverage basis defined to maximise revenue and return on investment. These sorts of metrics are what commercial businesses are all about, and they’re what shareholders demand.

The critical communications use case and requirements vary fundamentally from this model in several key areas, including, but not necessarily limited to:

  • The need for geographic, rather than population coverage, wherever and whenever critical users may ever need to have service – particularly in times of crisis or during major incidents.
  • The requirement for comprehensive and fail-safe resilience and reliability, including for example long term power backup at critical sites such as base stations and core nodes.
  • The demand for priority during surge and overload conditions, and again particularly in times of crisis or during major incidents.
  • Demanding security and grade of service requirements, guaranteeing the enduring confidentiality and quality of the service provided.

Every one of the above is currently satisfied by dedicated private networks such as many countries worldwide have already established using TETRA for secure critical voice and narrowband data services. Whether commercial MNOs view the relative ‘drop in the user-base bucket’ represented by critical users as valuable enough to justify the not-insignificant investment they would need to make in upgrading their networks and services to meet these requirements remains very much an open question.

There is also the potential ‘reputational impact’ of any perceived failure to perform for MNOs to factor in to their business case for taking on critical users and their demanding requirements. For example, what commercial MNO Chairman / Board / shareholders, etc. want to see the company’s image and brand value tarnished, potentially fatally, by headlines singling it out as having failed to deliver Critical Communications during some high-profile crisis or major incident?

Hence the level of scepticism and caution you are seeing for the meantime from the Critical Communications community about whether commercial services can in fact become a practical solution to their needs in future.

CS: Looking at critical mobile broadband a little more closely, a clear user case and value proposition has so far proved elusive. Is the demand we are currently seeing in the market being driven by developments in consumer technology, or by vendors eager to promote a new product?

TG: You’re right that, as I said earlier, the justification for the value proposition of critical broadband has yet to be clearly established. To my mind, just rather vaguely saying things like: “because consumers already have it”, or “ for situational awareness”, or conceptualising about the possibilities for video transfer to and fro within and between users, is simply inadequate.

The truth is that, as always when breaking new ground, we simply don’t know for now what the “killer app.” may be, or indeed whether it really exists at all. I personally expect and believe that the case will ultimately be made, and strongly, but we’re not there yet.

I like to quote two visionaries who had firmly held views in this type of context, and who with the benefit of hindsight have proved to be right:

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” ― Steve Jobs, and:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” ― Henry Ford

When we talk with users about use cases and applications, for example in CCBG and similar meetings, these quotes often come to mind. Jan Biemolt of the Dutch Police once famously exclaimed in one such meeting: “Nobody asked me if I needed an iPad and what for, they just gave me one. Now I can’t operate without it!”

There is clearly a need for some truly ‘out-of-the-box’ and ‘blue sky’ thinking about what capabilities critical users of the future might find valuable and important if they had the capability to transfer substantial amounts of data at broadband speeds to and from their mobile devices.

I don’t blame vendors for trying to offer what users might want – that’s what they’re in business to do. However the fact remains that for now we’re in something of a chicken-and-egg situation where what users want and need is, to say the least, unclear.

CS: The use case for LTE is still being defined in a consumer setting. The most talked about Critical applications concern the ability to send and receive video. Does this justify the financial and organisational investment in broadband? Why has video been picked out as the marquee application?

TG: “Video” per se, but without much definition for now as to what sort of video, from / to who, when and why, has been seized upon by users and vendors alike, in my view almost for no other reason than that it’s the one thing users don’t have right now, and that vendors of traditional narrowband PMR/LMR systems such as TETRA, P25 and so on can’t supply with those technologies.

If you go down the typical lists of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ from the likes of the much quoted LEWP – RCEG (Law Enforcement Working Party – Radio Communication Expert Group) matrix you find – surprise surprise – that the vast majority of use cases can be, and are already being, delivered right now, today, by TETRA, in particular but not only with TEDS for some higher speed data applications. Real time, high quality streaming video is the stand-out payload that’s simply no way able to be accommodated unless and until a broadband bearer is in place.

But we come back to the key questions: “What video?” “How much?” “When and where, between whom?” And last but by no means least: “WHY?” “WHAT FOR?”.

I remain personally convinced that we will answer these questions, and that video will ultimately be right up there in the mix of applications justifying critical mobile broadband in future. But I’m equally convinced that video alone is not the only, and maybe not even be the “killer app.”. In any event, it seems to me highly unlikely that simple raw streamed video, without significant pre-and-post-processing and analytics to aid decision making and avoid information overload, will be the way that critical users need to have video services delivered.

CS: How will the use case for Critical LTE, most likely, be developed?

TG: As I say, there will need to be some truly innovative thinking about what capabilities critical users of the future might find valuable and important. This was and remains one of the key planks of the TCCA’s CCBG mandate, and there has been and continues to be some great work being done by a core of dedicated and willing volunteers in that and other forums around the world.

Probably even more importantly, we will need ‘pathfinders’ with the determination, will and capability to go out on a limb and just “put the capability out there” for users to experiment with.

In my experience, the Middle East, where we are again with the Critical Communications Middle East show in Dubai this autumn, is a wonderful incubator for these sorts of ground-breaking initiatives. The culture is very positive and proactive towards innovation – take for example the Qatar Ministry of Interior’s initiative to establish a public safety LTE network, and the Dubai Police piloting of Google Glass applications. Also the knotty financial and spectrum-seeking issues I mentioned previously seem to be approached with a very positive and proactive mind set in the region, so those barriers are perhaps slightly lower than elsewhere in the world, if nonetheless still very much present.

Only through these kinds of initiatives are we likely in my view to see the sort of game-changing innovations that Henry Ford and Steve Jobs’s Apple gave to their worlds.

CS: There appears to be an insistence that LTE will replace TETRA. This may well happen, eventually, but perhaps not in the time scales some have been postulating. TETRA is an extraordinary standard that has been carefully defined specifically for Critical Communications. Not only is it fit for purpose, but the capabilities of TEDS consistently surprise people. Why has TEDS been overlooked, and why does there seem to be a rush to move away from TETRA all at once?

TG: I couldn’t agree more! TETRA doesn’t just do a fantastic job right now, it does a PERFECT job in the fairly narrow but nonetheless vital niche that it addresses, because that is exactly what it was designed and specified, very carefully, to do.

In contrast, LTE was first conceived as a mass market, consumer technology, and is only now being adapted through standardisation to support the kinds of critical features and facilities fundamental for the markets TETRA serves. In the long term, there is something of an inevitability to so-called “legacy” technologies ultimately being superseded by more recent, efficient and probably cost-effective solutions. LTE certainly has promise as the potential ‘new kid on the critical comms block’, but I content it is too early to say for sure if, and certainly when, it may become a true TETRA replacement contender. Perhaps in my lifetime, perhaps not – in any case I plan to be around for a long time to come, so watch this space!

As to TEDS, it is disappointing to hear some refer to it as “too little, too late”, since it is proving to be a very capable wideband bearer, and importantly is of course built on the solid legacy of resilience, stability and security of the original TETRA standards.

Unfortunately, in the pre-broadband era a few years back, when TEDS had a window of opportunity to really establish itself on the back of TETRA’s already rampant success, a couple of factors worked against it. One was price, with the usual quid pro quos of industry needing to pay back significant investment in standardisation and R&D, and a fairly tiny perceived potential market for TEDS at that time. The second, and perhaps most telling, was our old friend and bugbear – spectrum. TEDS requires 50, 75 or even 100KHz carrier channels, as against TETRA’s 25Khz. Most of the established, as well as many of the then still only planned TETRA networks were already up against the end-stops with usage of their available spectrum allocations, so implementing TEDS over the top of TETRA was simply impossible without further spectrum, regardless of any other factors including price.

Hopefully some of the great examples of TEDS capabilities now coming to the fore, such as in the Norwegian Nødnett implementation, will help to change some of the negative sentiment around TEDS, particularly once they get going with some interesting applications. I personally believe that there will be a long-term market for both TETRA and TEDS well into the next decade, regardless of what may eventuate in the broadband sector in the meantime.

CS: To what extent can associations and working groups help bring an objective perspective on critical mobile broadband?

TG: You’ve hit on a bit of a personal hobbyhorse for me in the industry as a whole here. There seems to be a perception amongst some that, as an association, the TCCA is too pro-TETRA, essentially just an interest group and lobbying body for the TETRA industry. Of course the name, starting with the ‘T’ word, doesn’t help in that respect, and we can argue whether or not perception-wise the decision not to be simply the ‘CCA’ from the outset was the right one with the benefit of hindsight.

However the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I think it’s fair to say the association and its working groups can clearly be seen to be very much more than the detractors would like to make out. Whilst of course the considerable successes and future longevity of TETRA must continue to be supported and promoted, there is also a very concerted consideration of the wider Critical Communications sector per se from the association. Rather than looking at things ‘Technology First’, it very much takes a ‘User First’ stance. What the user needs to be able to do, how, when, where and why, are the key focus points here. TETRA is purpose designed, specified and built for this community, hence it provides a solid benchmark against which to judge future developments such as for broadband. Can user requirements continue to be achieved via TETRA alone, or do we need the likes of broadband as supporting and ultimately perhaps replacement solutions? I personally believe that’s a fair and balanced approach, and for example it was one of the reasons the CCBG originally came into being as a key TCCA working group.

So in these respects I think Associations and Working Groups ultimately have a very important role to play in ensuring that the end User has a strong voice, whilst also keeping an open mind about new options and approaches and allowing them a chance to develop, compete and flourish for the ultimate benefit of users.

CS: While early adopters invest and begin to explore new technologies, innovation and ingenuity need to be encouraged and brought into Critical Communications. In an industry that can often be seen as very conservative, how can we encourage the generation that has grown up with smartphones to put that same experience into Critical Communications?

TG: As one of the unfortunately way too many ‘industry old farts’ I’m probably not best placed to answer this! Ideally and in my dreams I would replace us all at a stroke with a dynamic, thrusting, fearless bunch of innovating upstart youngsters like a young Steve Jobs in his silicon valley garage…. but we have to accept that that’s pretty unrealistic and impractical in the real world!

What is beyond doubt is that today’s youth are growing up in a world of apps., where increasingly ubiquitous broadband access is becoming almost considered a right rather than a luxury.  A good friend and visionary colleague of mine, Tero Pesonen, quotes the example of his own teenage offspring, saying that if they are ever to become the critical communications users of the future, they will expect, nay even demand, again almost as a right, at least the same power and functionality of applications in their professional lives as they enjoy right now, today, in their personal smartphones, tablets and so on.

These are the guys and girls that will be able to realise the full potential of mobile broadband, so it’s important to make sure that some of the brilliant minds that currently go off to work at the likes of Google, Apple, Microsoft etc., join us in the critical communications world to help progress this important agenda.

Personally I have been hugely impressed by the sheer quality and intellect of many of the folks I’ve come across over the last couple of years in the standards bodies such as 3GPP and ETSI, that are working right now to add critical communications features and functionality to the LTE standards. To me, their engagement and involvement now in our world as well as in the traditional space of consumer mobile they’ve come from will be a great start towards revolutionising critical mobile communications in what has become a personal rallying cry of: “TOWARDS A BROADBAND FUTURE”!

Join The Discussion: If you have thoughts on the development of Critical LTE, have your say on our LinkedinGroup

For more information on how to be involved with the TETRA & Critical Communications Association, visit www.tandcca.com/

TCCA welcomes new EC focus on digital communications as support for public safety spectrum

Logo idea 121 July 2014:

The TCCA welcomes the stated commitment of new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to make much better use of the great opportunities offered by digital technologies.

In his New Start for Europe document, President Juncker states: “…. we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law. …  Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services should become a horizontal policy, covering all sectors of the economy and of the public sector.”

Emergency services have an increasing demand for access to mobile broadband data services for their PPDR operations. The establishment of mission critical mobile broadband data services ideally requires a frequency band located below 1 GHz. An opportunity is opening at 700MHz. This band is today inter alia used by terrestrial broadcasting services, but is expected to be shared or ultimately fully re-allocated to mobile service at the World Radiocommunications Conference in November 2015 (WRC-15).


How important is Mission Critical LTE standardisation? Will it affect your organisation?


Will LTE really be able to offer Mission Critical Users the services that they need? When? And at what cost? What steps are being taken to ensure that there will be a global standard for Mission Critical Mobile Broadband?

Standardisation for Mission Critical LTE is VITAL. The topic will form a key part of the debate at Critical Communications World 2014. Watch the videos below to hear more from ETSI, the French MOI and TCCA on the importance of developing common standards. Users of all Critical Communications technologies must draw together to drive forward common goals for Mission Critical Broadband technologies. (more…)

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