Broadband  |  2023-05-19

A Lifeline for European Public Safety Services: Band 68 Spectrum

Curated by: Gert Jan Wolf - Editor-in Chief for The Critical Communications Review

After laying the foundation for mission-critical communication services and public safety broadband spectrum in Europe for more than ten years, Ericsson will demonstrate in real time how these services can be widely implemented using Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) Band 68 in collaboration with leading industry players Crosscall, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and Streamwide.

The live demonstration will take held from May 23–25 at Critical Communications World 2023 (CCW 2023) conference. It will demonstrate how mission-critical services (MCX) can be deployed in a multivendor environment using Ericsson's radio base stations and core network, smartphones made by the French company Crosscall that feature Qualcomm QCM6490 chipsets, and software and services from Streamwide, one of the top MCX vendors on the market.

The bottom 2 x 5MHz portion of Band 68 has been set aside for PPDR agencies in Europe as a result of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-2015) and following European law. As of now, an increasing number of European nations are targeting the band for scenarios needing air-to-ground coverage or rapid network deployment, as well as for statewide or regional coverage. First responders now have the option of having an additional layer of dedicated connectivity to enhance the capacity and resilience already offered to them by a commercial operator.

Manuel Ruiz, Head of Mission Critical at Ericsson, says: “This live demo will give attendees at CCW 2023 a unique opportunity to see how far we and the wider industry have come in terms of developing an ecosystem for mission-critical communications systems enabled by PPDR Band 68 in Europe. With this added layer of dedicated connectivity for wide-area coverage and deployable systems, mission-critical services for first responders will be more available, more resilient and more dependable.”


Increasing interest in the PPDR Band 68 environment

Before the live demo, Ericsson and Qualcomm successfully evaluated the QCM6490 chipset's compatibility with Band 68 radio access network hardware. The demo team now includes Streamwide and Crosscall, two companies that provide dependable device applications, services, and solutions that deliver advanced voice over IP (VoIP), mission-critical push-to-talk, and next-generation (MCX) services. Crosscall provides durable smartphones for hostile and unpredictable environments.

A sufficient number of network, hardware, and chipset providers are currently emerging to support the PPDR B68 ecosystem. There are known deployment scenarios for this band, and discussions are now taking place about upcoming standardization initiatives including carrier aggregation combinations and 5G NR support.

“This is a major milestone for the entire industry, as it signals to the user community that they can migrate safely and smoothly from their existing narrowband networks to 3GPP standardized technologies and macro networks,” Ruiz says. “This will allow them to take advantage of everything this broader ecosystem has to offer, such as gaining greater insight and control, and making decisions based on heightened situational awareness which, in turn, will make them better able to save lives.”

The solution being showcased at the Ericsson exhibit varies from those already on the market in that it is intended to work over a large area, such as several provinces or perhaps the entire country, as opposed to just one place.  

The demonstration will demonstrate how this ecosystem's cooperation on PPDR B68 can support additional services like real-time video streaming for situational awareness regarding an accident or significant crisis. At CCW 2023, Ericsson will also demonstrate additional use cases, such as air-ground coverage, virtual control rooms powered by 5G, the security automation center, and a cellular network failover solution, that illustrate the path to mission-critical 4G and 5G.

Through its technological leadership in the 3GPP, Ericsson offers service providers cutting-edge, mission-critical mobile broadband network solutions by leveraging their existing infrastructure assets or by offering scalable, customized solutions ranging from deployable networks to national networks. With the help of these technologies, service providers may offer public safety, military, train, and utility businesses secure, dependable, and high-performance mobile communications.