2024-04-26 | Gert Jan Wolf

Embracing Partnerships: The Future of Critical Communications

This article discusses the evolving landscape of critical communications networks, highlighting the challenges posed by legacy systems and the emergence of broadband solutions. It emphasizes the importance of partnerships in driving innovation.

In the rapidly evolving world of critical communications, the need to adapt and embrace new technologies is crucial. With the emergence of broadband and the challenges posed by legacy systems, industry experts have recognized the importance of partnerships to drive innovation and ensure the seamless integration of different communication platforms. By collaborating with other organizations and leveraging their expertise, the critical communications industry can overcome obstacles and deliver efficient, reliable, and future-proof solutions. 

The Evolution of Critical Communications Networks

Over the years, the landscape of critical communications networks has undergone significant changes. Traditional Land Mobile Radio (LMR) technology, which was once considered the gold standard, is now facing competition from broadband solutions. The advent of LTE/5G networks and the promise of increased bandwidth and data capabilities have raised questions about the future of LMR technology.

In a survey conducted by an industry magazine, communications managers, mobile radio dealers, and distributors were asked about their predictions for the replacement of LMR networks with commercial LTE/5G networks. The responses varied, with some believing that the transition would happen within 10 years, while others were more skeptical, stating that it may never happen. However, one thing became clear: the industry recognized the need to adapt to the changing technological landscape.

The Importance of Partnerships in Critical Communications

Partnerships play a crucial role in driving innovation and progress in the critical communications industry. By collaborating with other organizations, companies can leverage each other's strengths and resources to develop cutting-edge solutions that meet the evolving needs of their customers.

One such example is the partnership between AT&T and the FirstNet Authority in the United States. AT&T, as the winner of a 25-year contract, is building a nationwide public safety broadband network using 700 MHz band 14 spectrum. This partnership highlights the importance of cooperation between telecommunications providers and public safety agencies to ensure the successful deployment of critical communications networks.

In addition to telecommunications providers, partnerships with technology manufacturers and solution providers are also essential. For instance, Mobile Tornado, a leading provider of resource management solutions, has partnered with French smartphone manufacturer Crosscall to offer a broader range of devices to their partners. This collaboration allows Mobile Tornado to provide their customers with powerful, versatile, and reliable rugged devices and tablets that are essential for mission-critical operations. Furthermore  I would like to highlight the partnership between Meep, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, and Entropia have joined forces to build a critical broadband service. By combining Meep's Push to Talk Over Cellular networks (PTToC) communication solution with Entropia's TETRA control room management platform, the partners aim to provide broadband critical connectivity in multiple countries. This partnership showcases the power of collaboration in delivering comprehensive solutions for mission-critical operations.

The Benefits of Partnerships in Critical Communications

Partnerships in the critical communications industry offer several benefits, including:

  • Access to Expertise: By partnering with organizations specializing in different aspects of critical communications, companies can tap into a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This enables them to develop comprehensive solutions that address the unique challenges faced by public safety agencies and other critical communication users.
  • Technology Integration: Integrating different technologies is a complex task. By partnering with companies that have complementary technologies, organizations can ensure seamless integration and interoperability between various communication platforms. This integration is crucial for effective communication and coordination during critical incidents.
  • Expanded Product Portfolio: Partnerships allow companies to expand their product portfolios by incorporating innovative solutions developed by their partners. This enables them to offer a wider range of products and services to their customers, catering to their diverse needs and requirements.
  • Faster Time-to-Market: Developing new technologies and solutions from scratch can be time-consuming. By partnering with organizations that have already made advancements in specific areas, companies can accelerate their time-to-market and deliver cutting-edge solutions more quickly.
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: By working together, partners can leverage their collective expertise to deliver solutions that meet and exceed customer expectations. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as long-term partnerships based on mutual trust and success.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Critical Communications

As the critical communications industry continues to evolve, partnerships will remain essential for driving innovation and ensuring the seamless integration of different communication platforms. By collaborating with organizations specializing in different areas, companies can harness their collective expertise to develop comprehensive solutions that meet the evolving needs of public safety agencies and critical communication users.

The benefits of partnerships in the critical communications industry are vast, including access to expertise, technology integration, expanded product portfolios, faster time-to-market, and improved customer satisfaction. Real-world examples, such as the partnerships between AT&T and the FirstNet Authority, Mobile Tornado and Crosscall, and Meep and Entropia, demonstrate the positive impact of collaboration on the industry.

Collaborations with organizations possessing diverse core strengths will be vital in tackling emerging user needs, especially concerning mission-critical broadband services (MCX) and the Interworking Function (IWF) bridging MCX and LMR. 

As the industry moves forward, it is crucial for organizations to actively seek out partnerships and embrace cooperation. By working together, the critical communications industry can overcome challenges, drive innovation, and ensure the delivery of efficient, reliable, and future-proof solutions that empower public safety agencies and enhance the safety and security of communities worldwide.

The industry is working hard to overcome challenges and learn from past mistakes.