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Is a compelling event needed to launch LTE for public safety?

Discussions about mobile broadband communications in the public safety community are more and more shifting from ‘why’ to ‘when’. This is raising the important question of what compelling event would prompt a government to evolve its public safety communications to mobile broadband.

Only a handful of countries are thus far deploying the advanced international wireless communications standard, Long Term Evolution (LTE), and that decision has either been stimulated by a catastrophic event or by a visionary approach of their government.

For example, in the United States, a concerted effort toward LTE-based interoperable mobile broadband, the national FirstNet initiative, was conceived after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, which tragically revealed the limits of public safety communications systems at that time. In South Korea, the 6,825-ton Sewol ferry capsized and sank on April 16, 2014, killing more than 300 people – an incident that played a key role in accelerating the Korean government’s decision to launch a public safety LTE network.

Other governments are betting on new technologies to accelerate their development. Qatar and Dubai have been proactive in deploying mobile broadband, with the world class events they will each be hosting soon –– providing concrete deadlines to speed implementation of their network.

But fortunately, not all countries will face disasters and early adopters of technology are by definition fairly limited. What then will motivate others to make the investments in LTE for public safety, and what compelling reasons can you put on the desks of decision makers in your region? Here are a few key benefits that could tip the value equation for them, and drive adapting public safety LTE quickly:

  • Technology readiness: Many public safety specific features were already added to the LTE standard to make it a mission-critical technology, able to deliver both reliability and public safety-specific features such as mission-critical push-to-talk and push-to-video. The Nokia ViTrust end-to-end public safety LTE solution already supports many of these new features, and more will be added as new standards come to market. Nokia also has developed deployable Compact LTE solutionsthat are answering first responders’ specific needs for coverage everywhere, even when disasters damage the existing infrastructure.
  • Cost competitiveness: Tight government budgets are often a constraint on new investment. By selecting LTE as the standard for mobile broadband public safety communications, governments can benefit from the economies of scale associated with this widespread technology. At the same time, LTE boasts a broad variety of deployment models that use existing commercial networks or easily deployable systems, allowing governments to quick-start advanced mobile networks at relatively low capex.
  • Spectrum availability: Finding available spectrum can be an impediment to some mobile technologies. LTE allows agencies to use commercial service providers while assuring mission-critical resiliency, deterministic QoS and other specialized features. This model avoids the necessity of finding dedicated spectrum for a broadband network, and some countries, such as the UK have taken this route to deployment.

Numerous barriers that previously have prevented broad adoption of LTE for public safety have been removed or significantly lowered. Most importantly, with the deployment of the first mission-critical mobile broadband communications networks, new public safety applications are really starting to materialize – including real-time HD video, high-speed file transfer, bio-vital signs monitoring and long-range drone surveillance, to name a few. These advanced capabilities will be truly beneficial to first responders, allowing them to greatly enhance their situational awareness foroperational safety and efficiency.

Cybercrime, new threats and the specter of natural disasters caused by climate change are fueling a growing need for new public safety capabilities to protect life and property. Against this backdrop, LTE’s portfolio of game-changing new features and benefits provide a compelling argument to spur governments everywhere to start investing in mobile broadband for public safety.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of LTE for public safety.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #publicsafety #nokia #LTE #missioncritical #security

Arnaud Legrand

About Arnaud Legrand

Arnaud leads Nokia’s public sector marketing efforts, educating government entities on the advances and benefits of telecommunications to improve the services they deliver to their citizens and businesses. When he’s not studying the latest market trends, you can find him recharging his batteries kite surfing and conquering the waves.

Tweet me at @ArnaudLegrand

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