A new white paper from TCCA presents the current roadmap to the operational use of mission-critical broadband.

It is aimed at organisations seeking to move away from narrowband networks or introduce critical broadband to complement their existing services. The white paper considers three phases – the current situation, the next three years to 2021, then from 2022-2030, looking at the timetable of 3GPP Releases and the issue of interoperability.

It notes that 3GPP Release 15, which will contain most of the mission-critical functionality provided by TETRA is expected to be implemented by vendors and operators by 2022 (based on FirstNet’s statement that Release 13 MCPTT is expected to be ready for operational use in Spring/Summer 2019 and the roughly 18 months between 3GPP releases), but any commercial network seeking to run a mission-critical service will need to be hardened with extra coverage, resilience and security. The white paper also predicts that “Sometime after 2025 a decision may be taken to switch off an existing LMR/PMR/TETRA/P25 network.”

For governments and operators looking to eventually transition from TETRA or other narrowband networks to critical broadband services, or to introduce complementary critical broadband services, TCCA recommends the process should be started as early as possible. During a webinar to discuss the white paper, TCCA board member Jeppe Jepsen, noted that it could take a governmental organisation to go from the planning phase all the way through to operational use probably between four and six years.

Jepsen and his colleague, Tero Pesonen, chair of TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG) also discussed the issues created by the lack of chipset vendors’ enthusiasm to support ProSe (Proximity Services – broadband’s currently inferior analogue of TETRA’s direct mode operation – DMO) and Pesonen noted that “in the last 3GPP plenary, a proposal was put forward by FirstNet, supported by TCCA and its members, to investigate the possibility [of] using the V2X 5G device-to-device capability to [see] if it could also be used to extend the capability of ProSe”, with the hope that the combined ProSe/DMO/V2X market “would be far more lucrative for chip vendors to support”.

The full white paper can be read here.

Author: Sam Fenwick