SK Telecom, the South Korean mobile operator, and Nokia have developed a mission-critical LTE system for first responders squeezed into a portable all-in-one Public Safety-LTE (PS-LTE) network system. The wireless solution provides an independent broadband LTE network for use by emergency services organisations, such as police, fire and emergency medical services, or disaster relief agencies.
Although compact enough to fit into a backpack, the system is equipped with all elements required for mobile telecommunications, including a base station (eNB), switching system (core network: Evolved Packet Core, Home Subscriber Server, Policy and Charging Rules Function, etc.) and Push To Talk (PTT) technologies – to instantly create an independent communications network to be used by public safety workers/emergency services.
SK Telecom and Nokia were able to realize the portable all-in-one PS-LTE network by applying Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) technologies to the core network elements and PTT solutions to fit them into a small rectangular shaped server. The existing portable LTE systems were only composed of a base station, and thus still needed to be connected to a backhaul network to enable communications.
Moreover, the system offers scalability as it can add other communication solutions (e.g. user management programme, group messaging, etc.) needed by public service agencies. With the portable all-in-one PS-LTE system, first responders at the site of emergencies can communicate with each other over the instantly created LTE network. The network deployed with the system provides coverage of five kilometers and accommodates up to 400 users, and has a set-up time of less than three minutes.
Since signing an agreement for joint development of disaster communication technologies in October 2015, SK Telecom and Nokia have been working closely to develop diverse disaster communication technologies, including portable LTE system and real-time Group Communication System Enabler (GCSE) based on mobile evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) – a solution that enables the simultaneous transmission of heavy multimedia content to large numbers of users.
SK Telecom plans to conduct a trial for the portable LTE system within this year, and to actively utilise the system to expand the national disaster safety wireless network as well as the ‘LTE for Maritime Wireless Communications (LTE-Maritime)’ project in 2017.
“The portable all-in-one PS-LTE system is a ground-breaking solution that enables communication among first responders by setting up an independent LTE network when regular communication networks are disrupted by disasters,” said Lee Jong-bong, Executive Vice President and Head of Infra Division of SK Telecom.
“SK Telecom will not only utilise the innovative system to build disaster safety wireless networks in Korea, but also plans to share its expertise and know-how with many other countries around the world.”
“This world’s-first portable LTE solution will be invaluable when critical services are needed to respond to all kinds of disasters and emergencies,” commented Andrew Cope, head of Korea at Nokia. “We are very pleased to customize our all-in-one Ultra Compact Network in cooperation with SK Telecom and local small and medium-sized enterprises to suit their individual needs. Nokia will continue to take the lead in PS-LTE related standardisation activities by collaborating with Korean companies and offering advanced PS-LTE solutions to our customers.”
South Korea plans to launch a nationwide mission critical LTE network by 2017. SK Telecom and rival mobile operator Korea Telecom (KT) have been involved in building pilot mission critical LTE networks in three areas of the country.
The decision to proceed with a PS-LTE network was triggered by the Sewol ferry disaster on 16 April 2014, when the limitations of the current narrowband emergency service coverage outside of the main cities was brought into stark relief and highlighted the lack of interoperability among agencies.
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