Nokia Networks has begun marketing a 4G LTE broadband public safety solution comprising a ‘fully-featured public safety LTE voice and data communications network’, including Quality of Service, high availability, mobility, security and resilient IP connectivity.
Nokia describes the solution as 3GPP compliant, but it should be pointed out that 3GPP is still some way off incorporating all the mission critical functionality found in TETRA and P25 two-way radio standards used by emergency services today into the 4G LTE standard – especially some of the key voice applications.
3GPP’s SA6 Mission Critical Applications Working Group is drawing up these applications, and while some mission critical functionalities were included in LTE Release 12, many others are not expected to be written into the LTE standard until 2018 or possibly even later (some may never make it into the standard). In the interim, vendors have to provide proprietary solutions for some mission critical applications.
Nokia's public safety LTE network is built on its existing radio access network including its evolved packet core, VoLTE solution, IP Multimedia Subsystem, LTE Core in a Box solution, subscriber data and device management, network management, self-organising networks, and Nokia Liquid Applications technology.
Nokia Networks’ LTE Network in a Box is a vehicle portable solution, which offers standard authorised IP connectivity and can provide complete LTE network coverage for users in minutes.
The company also provides an end-to-end security offering for public safety networks, while Nokia Global Services provides expertise for designing, implementing, optimising, operating and maintaining networks that fulfil the specific requirements of public safety authorities.
Nokia's end-to-end solution all consists of a partner portfolio able to supply devices, applications, and interworking functions for legacy narrowband two-way systems such as TETRA and P25.
Nokia argues that LTE mobile broadband enables a whole new level of efficiency for public safety, offering: real-time communications; high-quality video streaming to provide remote team members a direct view to emergency situations; robotics; remote data access and diagnostics; and services based on location data.
It also notes that standardised technologies and a single platform approach are central to the development of smart cities, for which public safety is one of the first and most important criteria. Making use of millions of sensors and Internet of Things (IoT), objects will further enhance the safety of first responders and citizens, it believes.
Nokia argues that an additional advantage is the ‘wide choice of LTE devices that are cost-effective compared to dedicated public mobile radio systems such as TETRA and P25’. However, there are few LTE devices available yet that meet the rugged specifications provided by today’s TETRA and P25 terminals that emergency services require.
Thorsten Robrecht, Vice President, Partner Business at Nokia Networks, said: "Tomorrow's smart cities will be built on standardised technologies with economies of scale, such as LTE for public safety. Already today, LTE mobile broadband connectivity with innovative real-time applications helps public safety authorities offer a completely new level of service to citizens.
“We at Nokia Networks understand that public safety networks must conform to the most stringent requirements for connectivity and application security. Building on our strong heritage of working with governmental agencies, we are now offering the most comprehensive LTE public safety portfolio to our customers jointly with our selected partners."
Nokia Networks said it has been working with various government agencies to understand their requirements for a reliable public safety system. It added that it has participated in a number of early public safety deployments and pilots in the US.
In addition, it has signed contracts with government public safety agencies in the Middle East to provide its end-to-end public safety solution. More recently, with Nokia Networks in a Box, Vodafone New Zealand showcased the integration of push-to-talk group communications capabilities in one of the world's first deployments of a miniaturised 4G network in an emergency-type scenario.
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