New public safety wireless network likely to use LTE, analyst says

By Jonathan Hassell

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The news that telecom giant AT&T is building a new broadband network specifically for US first responders and public safety professionals has sparked an industry discussion about what type of wireless technology the new network will use.

IT Pro Portal reported that the new public safety wireless network will not be ready until 2018, and that when it is ready, the network will use Long Term Evolution (LTE) to deliver the service to first responders.

“We can expect other countries to follow in the footsteps of the US, leveraging LTE to deliver critical comms applications for emergency services,” said Ingo Flomer, public safety product manager at Cobham Wireless.

“These include the sharing of interactive digital images of the disaster area or crime scene, enabling faster situation analysis and improved reaction time,” he said. “An LTE public safety network due to be deployed by EE in the UK suffered setbacks in January due to additional testing requirements. Hopefully the progress made in the US will be mirrored in the UK, with further investment, research and development in this area.”

Flomer expects the network may become operational sometime next year. At first, it may use TETRA, a non-LTE service that is already in use and provides public communications services, due to the need for current holders of the LTE spectrum to give up their control of it so the new public safety network can use LTE.

“One major consideration is that many operators are reluctant to give up their valuable LTE spectrum, which is needed for data-hungry business and consumer customers,” Flomer said. “TETRA will continue to be used as a short-term solution due to its proven ability to deliver reliable communication services.”

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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