Lte | 2013-01-07

Chair, TCCA Critical Communications Broadband Group: “Acceptance of LTE… has created an opportunity for critical communications”

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

The challenges in setting up a critical communications network are not fundamentally different to those for any other network

Tony Gray, chair of the TETRA & Critical Communications Association (TCCA) Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG) will be speaking at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to him to get a snapshot of why LTE is proving to be such as great fit for Critical Communications.

What are the most fundamental requirements for a Public safety/critical communications network and why does LTE fit the bill rather than any other proprietary technology?

It is important to appreciate in considering this question that, traditionally, public safety and other critical communications markets worldwide have employed a variety of different standards-based, but nonetheless somewhat application-specific technologies, such as TETRA, TETRAPOL, P25, and in the rail sector, the GSM variant GSM-R.

All of these technologies are primarily defined to provide highly efficient and effective voice communications services, and in some cases narrowband data capabilities such as short messaging, status, etc. They have been, and will continue being, successful because they deliver demonstrably well against the particular needs of critical communications users. For example these include reliable, resilient, primarily groups-based operation, fast call set-up, and off-network, device-to-device working.

Such demanding requirements are not well met by more mainstream, consumer-led commercial market standards such as GSM and UMTS, which has meant that the more critical communications-specific solutions have only addressed relatively lower volume markets, counted in millions rather than billions of users globally. Consequently, overall ‘cost per user’ in critical communications markets has traditionally been relatively high, both for infrastructure and in particular terminal devices.

The increasingly widespread acceptance of the LTE standard over other mobile broadband technologies has created an opportunity for the critical communications sector to potentially benefit from economies of scale in a far wider global market, by leveraging the relatively vast ecosystem being opened up by commercial LTE deployments throughout the world.