Thales is to head up the Fed4PMR project industry, leading a consortium which will create a laboratory for future secure high-data-rate 4G/LTE radio communications to meet the requirements of security agencies and emergency services. One of the aims is to allow images, videos and data to be shared securely.
The ambition of the Fed4PMR project is to provide innovative responses to ensure the successful transition of voice-only communications to these next generation mission-critical 4G/LTE systems, while guaranteeing the necessary network security and resilience.
Professional mobile radio (PMR) networks traditionally associated with narrowband two-radio voice communications, play a crucial role in protecting people and property. They offer specific mission-critical functionality such as group calls and guarantee high availability in emergency situations.
The goal of the Fed4PMR project is to define a unified broadband PMR system spanning everything from user terminals to network operation. The proposed solution will combine multiple types of access networks (dedicated networks, virtual mobile networks, temporary networks) in a single infrastructure.
This infrastructure will be used to deliver multimedia-enabled PMR services, including real-time transmission of pictures and video, database lookups and other professional applications, to meet the needs of users conducting critical missions in difficult situations.
Thales has formed a consortium with seven SMEs (Air-Lynx, Archos, Eolane Douarnenez, Expway, Ibelem, Silicom and Sysoco) and researchers at Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris to develop the key technological building blocks for a demonstrator. This demonstrator will be officially unveiled at the end of the 36-month collaboration.
As project leader, Thales is in charge of integrating the various technologies to form a resilient and secure solution. It is also providing the multimedia-enabled PMR services to meet the requirements of mission-critical applications, such as group call and push-to-talk functionality.
The SMEs in the consortium are an integral part of the LTE ecosystem. They will be responsible for sensitive components of the solution including the:
• Development of dedicated, operated and deployable networks
• Delivery of mission-critical PMR services (terminal applications, command room applications) and interoperability with legacy systems
• Network operation and engineering, inventory management
• Development of hardened terminals.
To prepare for future evolutions, researchers at Pierre et Marie Curie University will ensure that studies incorporate future 5G concepts. To validate the operational scenarios, mobile telephony operator SFR will make its 4G network available for tests to be performed in conjunction with the various dedicated networks.
In the world of mission-critical communications, the gradual shift to commercially available technologies and solutions such as 4G/LTE is having a radical impact on the traditional PMR ecosystem. The transition promises more responsive, more effective solutions for tomorrow's security services, while drastically reducing hardware and systems costs.
Thales said that the project involves a number of real technological challenges, especially in terms of integrating networks, multimedia services and strong security components to ensure the highest levels of network availability and protection from the full range of cyber threats addressed by the consortium.
The Fed4PMR project is part of the telecom sovereignty component of France’s new industrial regeneration policy. It is partly funded by the French authorities through the Public Investment Bank (BPI) and the PIA investments for the future programme.
Marc Darmon, Executive Vice President, Secure Communications and Information Systems, Thales, said: “The professional radio communications market is undergoing a real revolution with the advent of4G/LTE technology, marking a radical break with conventional TETRA-based systems.
“The key players in this market in the future will be those who successfully integrate the offerings of telecom equipment suppliers, telephony operators and innovation driven start-ups.
“Thales intends to draw on this ecosystem to offer resilient, secure high-data rate PMR solutions. The support of the COFIS committee for the security sector is key to positioning French industry at the forefront of these advances,” Darmon concluded.