Terrestrial Trunk Radio (TETRA), LMR/PMR technology, and P26, widely used public safety technologies are now outdated and are unable to meet the evolving needs of data-driven public safety operations. The new age public safety communications system demands access to text, imaging, web and video applications, which is not possible with legacy “walkie-talkie” based systems. Highly resilient, robust coverage and instant communication in daily operations and in case of emergency is the need of the modern day communication system for emergency responders, military and natural disaster responders.
Transitioning from TETRA or legacy system to the latest and future-ready LTE-enabled public safety communication system is then the need of the hour. With the right architecture, LTE helps in bringing down cost, improving interoperability with legacy systems, allows access to mobile broadband, and increases functionality at the same time. Besides, commercial LTE has coverage gaps, but the concept of Bring-Your-Own-Coverage (BYOC) allows transmission of real-time location, images and videos in daily operations by extending signal into coverage holes like parking garages and in emergencies by creating a coverage bubble via NIB, thus empowering the first responders to best utilize the available resources to save lives. The interoperability allows organizations using different communication systems to communicate without a glitch during a disaster or an emergency.
IHS report says that the organizations currently operating legacy TETRA, P25 and TETRAPOL networks will be the early adopters of new communication technologies. Gradual migration to LTE-enabled digital systems can help in bringing down the capital expenditure while enhancing the functionality of the existing system by delivering network control, instant coverage everywhere, and network resilience. Some players might continue to use TETRA for voice and deploy LTE for broadband requirement before making a complete transition to LTE. On the other hand, Greenfield public safety communication networks might go for end-to-end LTE-based public safety communication system.
What are the different strategies to migrate from legacy to LTE-powered public safety system and how can HetNet Gateway (instant/plug-n-play networks, interference mitigation, self-optimization) and in-vehicle/BYOC help in simplifying migration? The article will also bring out the growing relevance of LTE technology in public safety and military for daily operations and in emergencies and tactical operations.