Matthieu Coutière, executive VP of public sector markets at Alcatel-Lucent, is in no doubt that public safety organisations can be persuaded to switch to an LTE solution for voice communications in the next decade.
It is not an orthodox view and he acknowledges that public safety organisations are nervous of moving away from a TETRA-based solution.
‘LTE has been created for the mass market, so it can obviously do voice. But policemen are happy with TETRA voice terminals – it’s proven technology – so they are worried about having to rely on a new technology,’ says Coutière.
‘But after a couple of years of LTE use they will see it is fine and I think in five to 10 years they will switch over to LTE.’
It’s a bold prediction, but Coutière sees a gradual movement over to a full LTE-based system starting with using broadband for data services such as maps giving the location of colleagues, images and video.
He argues: ‘When public safety personnel become accustomed to it and see it works and that it is easily available, we will tell them it is like your commercial network at home, so why
not switch your voice to that too?’
Clearly there are considerable obstacles to be overcome, not least, can commercial mobile operators really meet the stringent demands of mission critical voice? And if they cannot, how many countries are prepared to build out a private public safety LTE network, even if they have the spectrum available?
Those problems will have to be addressed, but in the meantime Alcatel-Lucent is keen to demonstrate its TETRA over LTE solution.
Coutière says: ‘For now we have a TETRA with an LTE overlay solution. We integrate a TETRA device, the data goes to a TETRA network, then into IP on the LTE network and reaches a PC with TETRA software. The PC captures the TETRA elements and communicates with the TETRA hardware you are using.’
Coutière points out that the PC is connected through LTE, but it could be connected over any IP network. ‘You can connect to command and control centres or vehicles with PCs, or you can connect to an officer in the field.’
At present there are few LTE-enabled terminals, let alone ruggedised ones, but personnel can take a ruggedised PC into the field with an LTE dongle, which are widely available.
Alcatel-Lucent supplies an end-to-end LTE network apart from the terminals, hence the link up with Cassidian. Coutière says the company is running tests in the US and Brazil using LTE dongles. He is confident that broadband video solutions will prove popular within the public safety community. The availability of real-time images will help emergency services tailor responses to incidents more accurately, thereby saving time and money.
‘Nobody doubts video will be useful,’ he says. ‘But I doubt a lot of customers will go for TEDS when they can see what the mass market is getting on their smartphones.’
Cassidian links up with Alcatel-Lucent
Alcatel-Lucent and Cassidian, part of EADS, announced an agreement in Budapest to jointly develop a mobile broadband solution for emergency response and security communications systems operating in the 400MHz spectrum band. They will use LTE technology to support broadband data services such as mobile and location-based video services.
Under the agreement, Cassidian will develop radio heads and terminals and lead the marketing and sales efforts in the public safety and defence markets where 400MHz spectrum is being used. Alcatel-Lucent will use its LTE technology to integrate and validate the entire solution, as well as leading the marketing and sales drive in transportation, energy and other industries.