Motorola Solutions and Ericsson are to develop next-generation push-to-talk communications for the public safety market, the two companies announced this week (24 February 2016). The aim is to create a way for traditional radio communications to integrate and extend via LTE broadband networks.
Ericsson and Motorola Solutions, together with Australian mobile network operator Telstra, will progress the technology through concept testing in Australia and collaborate in standards forums globally to develop an industry solution that will meet the requirements of public safety users.
The partnership brings together Ericsson’s flexible and efficient network infrastructure, Motorola Solutions’ depth of experience in providing mission-critical communications for public safety, and Telstra’s vast network resources and expertise in defining and deploying next-generation communications standards and capabilities.
Ericsson and Motorola have been collaborating for some years on developing LTE for mission critical purposes with Motorola handling the application layers on top and Ericsson the layers beneath.
Next-generation push-to-talk is an important component of emerging LTE-based public safety agency solutions. This technology will complement the mission-critical capabilities provided by the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) networks using two-way radio standards such as P25 and TETRA that agencies depend on today and extend those networks to a greater number of users carrying smart phones and other devices.
The changing dynamics of today’s public safety environment has seen the introduction of a growing number of data sources that need to be combined with traditional voice communications to help public safety agencies make better and faster decisions.
Delivering this combined information will help agencies to manage their resources in a way that maximises community safety and workforce productivity.
While today’s LMR systems will continue to play an important role for years to come, the interoperability of next-generation push-to-talk with existing TETRA and P25 systems will provide agencies with greater capacity in times of emergency.
The 3GPP standards body is still in the process of writing key mission critical functionality into the LTE standard. Some functions were included in LTE Release 12 published in March 2015 with more in Release 13 due for publication in March 2016, while others will have to wait until Release 14 in 2017 or even later.
A reasonably sized commercial mission critical LTE ecosystem of devices and solutions is not expected to develop before 2020. Until then, pre-standard solutions will have to be used for some mission critical functions on LTE.
Bruce Brda, executive vice president Products and Services with Motorola Solutions said his company’s involvement in the initiative would advance both the standards and technologies needed to extend the reach of public safety’s mission critical LMR networks.
“This project is part of our vision for smart public safety, Next-Generation Mobile Intelligence that is helping agencies deliver better community safety outcomes through a dynamic mix of technologies. Connecting a greater number of public safety officials will help to increase situational awareness and efficiency among first responders in the field.”
Mike Wright, Telstra Networks Group managing director said: “Telstra plays a leading role in developing and defining the standards for services including next-generation push to talk. In the future this technology will provide a platform to deliver greater multi-media communications to front line responders.”
“Providing a leading LTE public safety capability is a key objective for Telstra with its Telstra LANES (LTE Advanced Network for Emergency Services) advanced network solutions. A mission-critical push to talk capability is part of our vision for public safety communications via LANES and delivers our mission-critical customers a compelling solution to extend voice to more of their staff.”
Per Narvinger Head of 4G/5G RAN at Ericsson, added: “We are pleased to be working with our partner Motorola Solutions and to support Telstra’s early trials and introduction of next-generation push-to-talk to the Australian market. Ericsson has long supported LTE as the best path forward for public safety agency communications and this is another important step in this direction.”
The collaboration will provide standards-based features important to public safety users including:
• Optimised push-to-talk latency to deliver voice communications with minimal delays.
• Flexible talk group management integrated across both radio and broadband networks.
• Call pre-emption for LTE devices such as smart phones, tablets and desk top computers.
Public safety agencies will benefit from providing more staff with access to next-generation push-to-talk and greater coverage as LTE networks are extended across Australia. Telstra plans to reach coverage across 99% of Australia via its LTE networks by the end of June 2017.
See also: Ericsson partners with Motorola Solutions for UK’s new Emergency Services Network