LTE a likely long-term solution for public safety networks

The industry reacts to AT&T's latest contract with first responders in the US.

Late last week, it was announced that AT&T has been chosen for a very lucrative contract, to build and manage a nationwide public safety network for first responders in the US. 

Commenting on the news, Ingo Flomer, Public Safety Product Manager at Cobham Wireless, says the network itself won't be operational this year, but rather in 2018.

"Although there will not be an operational LTE public safety network in place this year, it is likely that the standards and regulations will be implemented in advance of a possible 2018 deployment,“ Flomer says.

He also added that LTE is very likely to become the long-term solution for public safety networks

“We can expect other countries to follow in the footsteps of the US, leveraging LTE to deliver critical comms applications for emergency services. These include the sharing of interactive digital images of the disaster area or crime scene, enabling faster situation analysis and improved reaction time. An LTE public safety network due to be deployed by EE in the UK suffered set-backs 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.“

TETRA will still be used as a short-term solution, until operators are ready to give up their LTE spectrum, he concluded.

“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. In the US and UAE, the 700MHz and 800MHz spectrum are earmarked as the bands best suited for public safety communications. However, we may see countries explore alternative options as they look to leverage the LTE spectrum, with minimal interference to today’s communication services. Until these vital decisions are made, TETRA will continue to be used as a short-term solution, due to its proven ability to deliver reliable communication services.”

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