LTE – mission critical networks

UK Broadband is deploying Huawei’s ‘enhanced’ LTE solution, which incorporates mission critical functionality not found in the current standard. James Atkinson finds out

LTE – mission critical networks

Wireless solution provider UK Broadband (UKB) is introducing Huawei’s proprietary enhanced LTE (eLTE) solution into the UK. The company believes it can provide a viable solution for the UK’s Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will replace the current Airwave TETRA system after 2016, as well as other verticals such as utilities and transportation.

Unveiling the technology at a demonstration in London in April, David Sangster, a consultant working for UK Broadband, said that eLTE provided mission and business critical voice and data over a shared LTE network. UKB has an exclusive partnership with Huawei for eLTE in the UK.

Sangster adds: ‘eLTE delivers next generation PMR services for public safety users and other specific vertical markets. We also believe it is highly relevant to the emerging M2M market, parts of which require mission critical applications.’
UK test bed

Sangster says parent company PCCW regards the UK as a test bed for the use of 3.5GHz spectrum. ‘We are looking at how we can use this spectrum. We think it is good for very urban, high density environments. But the point is our whole network will be more resilient and robust than the major mobile network operators. That is our raison d’être – to offer mission/business critical networks.’

UKB already offers 4G mobile services and fixed wireless solutions targeting efficient mobile working, re-deployable surveillance, digital and social inclusion, community healthcare and education, as well as city and rural, home and business broadband access.

It switched on the first 4G LTE system for commercial services in the UK in February 2012 in London and now provides 4G LTE services in London, Reading, Swindon and Scunthorpe.

The company is a subsidiary of PCCW Hong Kong (it owns Hong Kong Telecom) and holds 124MHz of spectrum in LTE TDD bands 42 and 43 at 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz – making it the third largest holder of commercial mobile spectrum in the UK after EE and Vodafone.

UKB believes its eLTE service is the only one to provide the security and functionality of the current TETRA solution used by UK emergency services users today. It also provides the added benefits LTE 4G technology can bring, such as video calling and advanced data services.

UKB has partnered with Huawei, Dutch TETRA specialist Rohill and others to demonstrate LTE for public safety. It has worked closely with City of London Police and the Corporation of London to set up a system to demonstrate Huawei’s technology over its LTE network with shared RAN and dedicated core.

Unlike an OTT-over-LTE network option, Sangster says eLTE is an ‘embedded’ network solution, which hooks down into the access layer of the device, thereby allowing more control on the network, as well as more functionality. Huawei’s eLTE is, however, a proprietary solution, as LTE currently has no standards for mission critical functionality.

‘The RAN infrastructure is standard (a small card has to be added to the Huawei eNodeB) but the eNodeB core for public safety traffic is separate. The larger element of cost is the RAN not the core, so we have created a new core,’ explains Sangster.
Huawie’s eLTE is an ‘embedded’ solution providing:
• Enhanced mission critical voice functionality: voice call set up time is less than 300ms; voice call quality is high thanks to a 3GPP adaptive multi-rate CODEC (AMR) delivering equivalent to 12.2kbps
• Direct mode: fully supported by adding a second VHF radio to the handsets
• Emergency call distress communication
• Pre-emption: embedded solution means the eNodeB can detect the priority user even on a 100% saturated base station
• Prioritisation (ability to tag priority call/data packets to distinguish them from other traffic)
• End-to-end QoS
• Multicast: one-to-many communications supported
• End-to-end encryption: supported using ‘transparent’ data channels
• Power consumption for handset: low, as optimised for standby mode when not carrying traffic.

UKB demonstrated a number of (mostly) live scenarios run from a City of London Police dispatch room, which included a Huawei dispatcher system with Rohill OTT dispatcher screens (including a mini Rohill TETRA system).

The handsets are Huawei LTE two-way radio terminals. These are software configurable radios and will run on all the following LTE bands: 800MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz.

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