The TETRA & Critical Communications Association (TCCA) has signed a partnership agreement with 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) - the industry body that provides the telecommunications industry with the specifications that define the standards for 3GPP mobile systems, including GSM and 4G LTE.
The TCCA, which represents the TETRA mission critical communications voice and narrowband data mobile standard, has been working with 3GPP through its Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG) to incorporate some of the key features and applications found in critical communication wireless standards into the LTE standard.
The move is of vital importance for global critical communications users as they migrate over the coming years from narrowband two-way radio systems to broadband systems. Narrowband radio cannot support some of the applications commonly found in consumer mobile devices using broadband systems, such as 4G LTE.
By moving to broadband systems public safety responders will gain access to a wider range of applications besides mission critical voice. These include images and especially real-time video applications that may help police, fire and ambulance services improve their situational awareness when responding to emergencies.
However, at present the LTE standard does not support key mission critical voice features and functionality, such as group calls, pre-emption and direct mode (where one radio can talk to another without being routed via the network). The TCCA’s CCBG is therefore working with 3GPP to incorporate these applications into the LTE standard over the coming years.
Working together, the CCBG and other stakeholder groups around the world have already achieved agreement to develop specific critical communications features in future iterations of the LTE standard. Now with MRP status, the CCBG will continue to work closely with 3GPP to define and clarify user requirements and use cases for critical mobile broadband.
MRP status is given to organisations which have the ability to offer market advice to 3GPP and to bring a consensus view of market requirements such as services, features and functionality that fall within the 3GPP scope.
The CCBG aims to enable all mission critical and business critical users to access their information systems, intranet and internet at broadband speeds using their professional mobile devices wherever they are and whenever they have the need. This broadband capability should meet the specific needs of the user in the same way that critical voice and narrowband data services are currently delivered by current technologies such as TETRA, Tetrapol, P25, GSM-R and others.
Pictured above at the signing ceremony are: the Director General of ETSI, Luis Jorge Romero, right, and Phil Kidner, CEO of the TCCA, with, from left, Byoung-Moon Chin, chair of the 3GPP Project Coordination Group, and Tony Gray, chair of the TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group.