France Allocates 700 MHz Spectrum for PPDR LTE, Aims to Add 400 MHz in Future
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Comments
France has allocated 2 by 5 megahertz and 2 by 3 megahertz in the 700 MHz band for a broadband public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) dedicated network, said a French Ministry of Interior (MoI) official. The decision for the 698 – 703/753 – 758 MHz and 733 – 736/788 – 791 MHz allocations was incorporated into the legal corpus but will be enacted in July 2019.

The prime minister's decision will seek solutions to accommodate other state ministries, such as justice, finance/customs, defense and health, and several critical infrastructure operators that contribute to PPDR missions. During the transition period toward 2019, France plans to receive exemptions from the country’s broadcasting services to develop tactical networks — called “bubbles” — or small experimental networks in some geographical areas.

“There are currently lots of discussions to define the legal, economic and technical models of the future network,” said the French Ministry of Interior. “However, the basic principle is to take benefits from the commercial LTE ecosystem. To this end, we intend to build our network on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology adapted to the specific needs of broadband PPDR.”

The French MoI will request input from the communications industry to provide relevant information about the technical strategy for the short and medium term. For example, a recent request for information (RFI) launched on tactical network bubbles helped to highlight the enthusiasm of potential suppliers in strict compliance with the standards of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), but also identified matters that require further research and development (R&D).

The R&D areas include isolated evolved universal terrestrial access network (E-UTRAN) operation for public safety (IOPS) and direct mode operation (DMO). IOPS allows an LTE eNodeB to operate with limited to no backhaul and still support mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT). DMO allows two devices to communicate without network radio infrastructure. These are areas where France still expects short-term progress in terms of functional scope covered by the 3GPP standards.

Tetrapol technology is used for the mission-critical voice networks in France. There are two different networks: Rubis is the dedicated Gendarmerie network in the 80 MHz band, and “Infrastructure Nationale Partageable des Transmissions” (INPT) is a shared national radio infrastructure that serves police forces and firefighters in the 400 MHz band. The two networks share some architecture elements.

The French government considers that the 700 MHz allocation will not be sufficient to cover all the country’s broadband PPDR needs. “Our current strategic goal is to obtain additional resources at 400 MHz to mitigate significantly higher deployment costs” of building a network at 700 MHz to obtain the same coverage as the Tetrapol networks and to cover difficult coverage areas, the French MoI said.

“Obviously, the same LTE technology will be kept to implement services on the 400 MHz band,” the French MoI said.

In November, European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) ECC Report 218 addressed spectrum options for the implementation of broadband PPDR services in CEPT countries in the 400 and 700 MHz frequency ranges. The report proposed the concept of “flexible harmonization” to enable an efficient implementation of PPDR LTE within CEPT and did not designate a single frequency band for PPDR LTE in Europe.

Airbus Defence and Space, the Tetrapol supplier, developed a multistandard base station platform in the 400 MHz band that combines professional mobile radio (PMR) with LTE technology. The company offered its broadband migration vision for Tetrapol at a meeting in 2014.

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Sandra Wendelken is editor of MissionCritical Communications and RadioResource International magazines. Contact her at

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On 2/17/16, TOURNIER said:
As reported by the French government, the 700 MHz allocation will not be sufficient to cover all the country's broadband public protection and disaster response (PPDR) needs. Reframing the 400 MHz band from Tetrapol could be a mid-term solution to get additional resources and extend the coverage of dedicated PPDR networks. A short-term solution could be as well considered — leveraging commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks already available and adding quality of service (QoS) priority and pre-emption features as specified in the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
Some solutions already exist to leverage the coverage of all cellular networks as reported by Sierra Wireless.
This new connectivity solution will be demonstrated next week during Mobile World Congress.


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