Think of public safety networks and you tend to think of large, robust ‘walkie talkie’ type devices, men in hard hats and networks with quaint names like TETRA. When you hear the term “public safety LTE”, you begin to think things are looking more interesting.
Public safety LTE is coming and will become mainstream soon after 2020, according to a study by ABI Research. Hardware revenue alone is expected to grow by 30% annually, reaching $540 million in 2025.
The United States, UK and South Korea will host the first public safety LTE networks and these will be operational in the next 18 months or so. Other countries will follow suit.
The advantages of using LTE are that a much broader range of tools and applications can be available to emergency services. It will be possible to “generate augmented user experience for public safety agencies through video streaming, file sharing, and real time analytics, without compromising security,” according to Lian Jye Su, senior analyst at ABI.
LTE can also manage IoT devices which can aid surveillance capabilities and allow real-time video to be broadcast from drones. Other crucial benefits include the fact that with LTE, the network and supporting IT can be virtualized and secured in the cloud.
While everything is going in the right direction – 3GPP has the standards under control that will allow economies of scale – there are still many issues to consider.
One is that new networks must be tied back into legacy systems such as TETRA, which are still being widely used by agencies across the world.
The other is that there are many different stakeholders, and to realise the full benefits everyone should be going in the same direction.
There is definitely a need to rope in broader mission critical aspects to ensure that the energy and transport, both rail and marine, start benefitting from the roll out of LTE networks as well.
In fact, a key question for companies that have put public safety LTE high on their agenda – is “how can the communications industry come together to make mission critical services work, and work in extreme environments.”
With escalating threats and faster and faster response times expected of emergency services, the advent of faster, richer and broader communications support can only be applauded and supported.