Public safety networks are critical – but what exactly are they?

Public safety networks

Public safety networks play a critical role at times of national disasters, terrorists attacks and other large-scale emergencies. From the communications perspective a public safety network is a wireless communications network used by emergency services organizations, such as police, fire and emergency medical services, to prevent or respond to incidents that harm or endanger persons or property.

They have traditionally operated on dedicated network infrastructure and exclusive spectrum bandwidth. In this realm the requirement has been to develop systems that are highly robust and can address the specific communication needs of emergency services. This fostered public safety standards – such as TETRA and P25 – that provide for a set of features that were not previously supported in commercial cellular systems.

Commercial mobile networks, however, have been driven by the needs of consumer and business users. The exceptional success of mobile/wireless technology has led to excellent economies of scale and constant rapid innovation. This environment has produced advanced standards such as LTE that provide multi-megabit per second data rates and multimedia capabilities as well as traditional voice and messaging services.

The demands on existing public safety networks to support ever-more sophisticated ICT systems, multimedia and smart devices and the subsequent demands for more bandwidth to support them comes at a time when spectrum is becoming a very precious commodity.

It should be no surprise that authorities are looking at taking advantage of secure and reliable 4G LTE technology that has been successfully rolled out across most markets, effectively spanning broad geographies.

In this interview, Nokia’s Zoltan Losteiner outlines why the move to LTE and what benefits it brings. If you don’t know anything about public safety networks this will be a real eye-opener.

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