Cassidian, part of EADS, and Alcatel-Lucent launched their ‘Evercor’ 4G LTE technology solution for PMR users at TWC 2012. The product will enable public safety agencies, energy and transport companies to access broadband video, data and other media in the same 400MHz frequency they use for their narrowband TETRA voice communications.
Evercor will help network operators in public safety, transport and energy to save money by optimising existing assets while providing an evolutionary path to LTE. As the solution uses existing TETRA 400MHz frequencies, existing base station sites can be used for LTE, rather than having to build new ones.
This provides a huge cost saving, as few countries or public safety organisations (the USA excepted) are in a position to roll out an additional public safety LTE network. Cassidian and Alcatel-Lucent argue that while LTE is likely to provide a complete public safety voice and data network at some time in the future (2025 is seen as the earliest date), for those countires with existing dedicated public safety 400MHz spectrum, resuing some of it for broadband services provides a viable and economic interim measure.
It will require, however, require some refarming of other 400MHz users to provide enough spectrum to make the investment in broadband LTE worthwhile. A minimum of 2 x 3MHz is required, but at least 2 x 5MHz is really what is needed.
The Evercor solution integrates Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio 4G LTE mobile broadband with TETRA-based systems to form the first end-to-end integrated LTE 400 Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) solution for the 380-470 MHz band – the frequency band currently used by public safety agencies and other essential services in many parts of the world.
As a result it will support new broadband communications capabilities such as real-time video to complement existing radio systems. It also allows transport and energy companies using TETRA communications to benefit from mobile broadband applications.
At TWC 2012 in Dubai, Cassidian and Alcatel-Lucent demonstrated how Evercor enhances information-sharing between control centres and field operations. Thanks to high-speed 4G LTE mobile broadband services such as enhanced location information and the transmission of medical records to ‘smart’ emergency response vehicles, handheld tablet devices and control centre systems, teams will be equipped with the vital information they need to rapidly prepare for and respond to any incident. This can improve safety and security for both the public and workers and allow teams to more rapidly identify locations and respond to incidents.
The use of real-time video and data services will improve operations for those working in the transport and energy industries. Early warnings of outages and incidents will in turn result in faster response and reduced maintenance time and costs. The solution will enable all companies using TETRA communications to save costs, allowing them to re-use their existing sites and equipment.
Jean Marc Nasr, head of secure communication solutions at Cassidian (pictured), said: ‘The launch of this innovative solution comes only a year after we announced the joint work programme between Alcatel-Lucent and Cassidian and shows the real progress we’ve made in enhancing operations for companies using the 400MHz band. We are able to integrate these services with Cassidian’s collaborative suite of command-and-control applications for our public safety and defence users.’
Philippe Keryer, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Networks Group, said: ‘Alcatel-Lucent’s 4G LTE and lightRadio architecture is being embraced by the public safety sector. Evercor delivers the highest speeds and the greatest capacity for mobile broadband communications networks available anywhere today and supports essential operations in the most cost-effective manner. Alcatel-Lucent has deep-rooted expertise in providing groundbreaking mobile broadband communications solutions to enhance operations and safety across many industries and we are pleased to work with Cassidian to achieve this.’
The Evercor solution uses Alcatel-Lucent’s eNodeB base stations engines, wireless packet core and backhaul solutions, and Cassidian LTE 400 Remote Radio Head, terminals and applications. The LTE 400 eNodeB can be incorporated in Cassidian’s new TB3S TETRA base station.
Working in the 400MHz bands delivers advantages over communications in a higher frequency band. Fewer base stations are required to provide coverage for a comparable geographic area and communication is made more reliable inside buildings and within built-up urban areas.
Alcatel-Lucent’s VP of public sector markets Philippe Agard told Wireless that the two companies did not want their 400MHz LTE solution for public safety to be seen as ‘in competition’ with LTE solutions in the 700MHz band. For a start, Alcatel-Lucent has its own highly developed 700MHz solution, which it is rolling out with AT&T and Verizon in the USA. Instead, Agard said they wanted to provide a 400MHz solution to give governments and other customers, who may not have access to 700MHz or other LTE spectrum at the moment, a choice.
‘We want other vendors to join us in providing 400MHz solutions, as that will grow the ecosystem and provide the necessary economies of scale. That is why we are working with the TCCA and others to establish a standard we can all work to,’ said Agard.