At Mobile World Congress today (3 March 2015) Quortus introduced its ECX Tactical, a field-ready 4G tactical cellular solution for public safety organisations, emergency services, military operations and other government or aid agencies.
Combining an embedded 3GPP compliant evolved packet core (EPC) designed to operate with any 4G radio access technology, a typical deployment scenario for ECX Tactical is as an “network in a box” solution optimised for vehicle-based use in the public safety and first response sector.
ECX Tactical is based on the Quortus EdgeCentrix technology, which implements core network functions in software that can be run anywhere in the network. In the case of ECX Tactical, the core is embedded directly on a 4G radio system-on-chip (SoC), and the system is tightly coupled with a 4G or Wi-Fi UE for backhaul and cell-to-cell communication.
This combination delivers the advanced features required in the tactical market, such as localised voice over LTE (VoLTE) calling, multicast/broadcast communication, ad-hoc node meshing and traffic relaying between vehicle nodes.
The small footprint of ECX Tactical makes it ideal for deployment in next-generation emergency service requirements in vehicles, un-manned drones or even in a back-pack. It allows the creation of 'bubbles' of 4G coverage, with each bubble able to move and 'mesh' with adjacent nodes, creating larger, resilient and sanitized private communications networks for key personnel, exactly where and when they are needed.
The system supports localised services such as command and control information, video surveillance and access to local voice services or PBX features “at the node”, with in-session continuity during user mobility to ensure integrity of sensitive user data. Nodes can be meshed or autonomous: each can effectively function as its own private 4G network, even in the absence of a backhaul connection.
Many of the features of ECX Tactical have already been demonstrated in an initiative called Project Hydra, a co-operation between Quortus, satellite firm Avanti Communications and BAPCO (British Association of Public Safety Officials) – for more details see Wireless story here. The project allows the rapid deployment of a complete LTE network to provide secure communications for first responders.
“The ability to communicate with the whole team and to locate and also communicate with victims during an emergency event is crucial to effective action,” said Paul Hirst, European Project Manager, BAPCO.
“In remote areas out of mobile network coverage, a dedicated 4G network delivering high speed voice and data communication is a key resource. Quortus has demonstrated that a working system showing this capability is now a reality and represents excellent support for emergency situation leaders.”
ECX Tactical can be implemented on SoC devices from any of Quortus’s wide range of partners, supporting x86, ARM and MIPS64 CPU architectures. Quortus takes a radio-agnostic approach, allowing ECX Tactical to use any radio access technology, including 4G LTE, 3G, GSM and WiFi, and freeing customers from reliance on a particular radio vendor.
The system is on show at the Small Cell Forum booth at Mobile World Congress (Hall 7, Booth 7F61), in a purpose-designed radio hardware platform provided by Quortus ecosystem partner Deltenna.
In addition to special features provided for the tactical communications market, ECX Tactical makes use of many of the benefits of mainstream cellular technology such as allowing first response teams to use standard handsets, and support for SMS. ECX Tactical can be used to build coverage where none exists, or to supplement existing macro capacity, with the capability where appropriate for any authorized user to roam on to the network.