PMR Vendors Partner for Broadband Migration
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | Comments
Woonsub Kim, Samsung executive vice president and general manager telecommunications systems business, and Pascale Sourisse, senior vice president of Thales, at the contract signing. Photo courtesy Thales.
 
 
Traditional professional mobile radio (PMR) manufacturers and cellular infrastructure vendors have announced a spate of partnerships during recent weeks and months. As mission-critical communications begins to transition to high-speed data and broadband services, new industry players are combining their cellular technology experience with suppliers of mobile radio technology to have a full set of tools available once spectrum and standards issues are worked out in markets around the globe.
 
Most of the partnerships have focused on the North American public-safety market because the United States allocated 700 MHz spectrum to public safety for broadband networks. The U.S. goal is to build a system of interoperable regional systems that will interoperate with cellular 4G networks when needed during emergencies and form a nationwide public-safety network for the first time in the country. In addition, U.S. public-safety officials have agreed to deploy the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard for their next-generation networks.
 
Other countries haven’t yet decided on standards or allocated broadband spectrum to public safety, although many officials are investigating ways to find contiguous frequencies. However, in a partnership announced earlier this month, Thales Communications partnered with Samsung Electronics to provide a system that combines 4G technologies, including mobile WiMAX and LTE, and the TETRA public-safety communications standard.
 
The solution offers full compatibility with existing PMR networks, company officials said. Thales is using its TeMax system, a high-speed PMR radio solution, to which Samsung’s 4G technology has been added.
 
Samsung provides equipment to 56 mobile WiMAX operators in 34 countries. Samsung also offers end-to-end LTE solutions including system equipment and devices. Thales supplies TETRA infrastructure products and Project 25 (P25) portable radios.
 
Also in September, Motorola and Ericsson partnered to address the next-generation public-safety communications market. Specifically, the one-time rivals partnered to develop an LTE-based solution for public-safety mobile broadband that will interoperate with mission-critical voice and data.
 
In July, Motorola sold its wireless network infrastructure assets for US$1.2 billion in cash to Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and said a public-safety partnership between the companies was being explored. However, a few weeks later, NSN announced a partnership with Motorola’s main U.S. P25 competitor Harris to develop broadband LTE product for public-safety communications.
 
John Vaughan, Harris senior vice president of global marketing and business development, said the partnership with NSN isn’t exclusive but that Harris will work with NSN equipment right away. “We did a request for information (RFI) and looked across the world and evaluated a lot of different [LTE manufacturers],” Vaughan said. “In the end, we chose NSN for all good reasons. What makes their equipment important to us is that when it becomes part of our network, we look at it as an overall solution.”
 
The first partnership addressing public-safety broadband communications was inked in April between EADS Defence & Security and Alcatel-Lucent. The EADS and Alcatel-Lucent solution, based on LTE and P25 standards, will initially target the U.S. public-safety market, company officials said.
 
Earlier this month, Alcatel-Lucent completed a data call over LTE using the 700 MHz band 14, the specific band earmarked for U.S. public-safety broadband services. The call was made in an Alcatel-Lucent laboratory to a PC demonstrating video and other applications, and the goal was to determine LTE network readiness in the U.S. public-safety frequencies, said Morgan Wright, vice president, global public-safety segment at Alcatel-Lucent.
 
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