Now We're Talking Author: John Helliwell

First a bit of history

…The use of 2 way radios (LMR) for push to talk (PTT) voice continues to enjoy significant growth - IHS predict that there will be over 4.5 million TETRA users by 2019 with high levels of growth in all the sectors it serves. The success of LMR has been based on what has become known as the “4 C’s:

Coverage - designed to meet your specific requirements, whether it is a single-site or a nationwide operation

Capacity - engineered to address peak usage, using dedicated licensed spectrum and right-sized to each organisation’s specific needs, so calls always get through

Cost - predictable costs, with no additional airtime fees like those which can be associated with cell phones

Control - high degree of control over system requirements, design, priorities, features, and operation – allowing a system to be configured for a specific use case

TETRA and other LMR technologies have provided the basis for Public Safety grade communications that must work in all conditions - a backbone of critical communications to ensure effective coordination at all times.

But with public safety budgets tightening and systems being required to do more - more users, wider use cases - customers are asking us how they can extract more value for their investment. How can they extend the reach of their network, incorporate new users, and drive new benefit.

One potential answer could be to use cellphone networks. They offer wide area coverage of the population and everyone uses a cellphone so the experience is well understood - perhaps cellphone networks could be employed? In the past Motorola saw this market opportunity and built IDEN, a cellular service that enabled PTT, which was highly popular with commercial organizations. However - although successful business both deployed and used the solution the technology wasn’t up to the standards required for frontline mission critical users. The challenges of latency - the delay in setting the call up, the voice quality, lack or priority management, meant the technology was never appropriate for the requirements of frontline Public Safety so customers continued to invest in TETRA as the most dependable technology.

Fast forward to 2015

… Public Safety networks are no longer just looking to connect frontline first responders. Daily operations will involve interaction with multiple departments, inside and out of their own organisation, and involve many users who don’t traditionally carry a radio or who may not be based in the same geographical location, region or even country. For example - officers may need to be in contact with local council or municipal workers to help coordinate road closures. Or senior officers may need to be involved in an incident when travelling outside of their region or country. Or third party experts may need to be called upon during a major incident.

This is where the latest generation of PTT over cellular, or in this case LTE, steps up and delivers. The WAVE solution provides the ability for Public Safety to both extend the reach of their private LMR networks and connect service between different technologies, seamlessly, connecting in occasional users, enabling the ability to add people on different technologies and in different geographies nationally or internationally, into existing LMR talk groups helping create safer cities and delivering increased efficiencies.

For more background and information on WAVE, Push To Talk over LTE and how is can be incorporated into Public Safety communications please download the Wave Work Group Communications White Paper.