Long Term Evolution: the new safety net for emergency services
We all rely on the first responders safeguarding our society: the police, the fire department, disaster units and ambulances. In turn, in an emergency, our public safety officials must be able to count on the mission-critical communications technologies they use.
Today, many emergency services use government and private narrowband radio networks with limited footprint and little bandwidth, while for commercial purposes the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile network already enables a new and huge dimension of high-speed data.
So why shouldn't public safety and government agencies also benefit from a network that is already a commercial success?
That's why Morpho and the other members of the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) are working on specifications and standards to enable accurate and seamless communications for emergency services via 4G LTE. "The 4G LTE broadband networks will enable innovative solutions for better protecting our first responders, providing them with the core requirements of mission critical technology: speed, security and reliability," explains Heiko Kruse, Head of Technology & Expertise for Telecom at Morpho. "Apart from the speed that 4G LTE technology brings to public safety communications, the system also has to ensure that it addresses the additional specific communications needs of emergency services."
Ensuring a reliable communications infrastructure
In case of a disaster, the police, fire services, ambulances and disaster units demand a highly resilient, dependable and completely interoperable communications system. With its work, the 3GPP aims to ensure a reliable communications infrastructure for public safety officials in the future. Proximity services that identify mobile phones in physical proximity and enable optimized communications between them are part of the discussion. Device to Device (D2D) Communications in particular, in which the SIM card is involved, plays an important role. Heiko Kruse: "Even if some base stations were to break down or there were no network service at all, the LTE SIM card delivers reliable configuration parameters about the frequencies and the frequency bands. This ensures that direct communications between police, other first responders and security forces is guaranteed in an emergency."
Standards are important
The 3GPP has a successful history of delivering standards that support complicated technology in a way that provides a competitive market with multivendor interoperation. This expertise is being applied to the development of LTE enhancements related to public safety.
"Standards that meet market needs and offer true interoperability are important in creating successful national and international public safety communications systems," emphasizes Heiko Kruse. The 3GPP plans to deliver the specifications for proximity services and public safety use in 4G LTE as part of the Release 12 specifications that are currently scheduled to be finalized in September 2014.