LTE, P25 Public-Safety Networks Contribute to RNC Communications, Security
Tuesday, July 19, 2016 | Comments

Mission-critical communications networks, both Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Project 25 (P25), are helping security and communications efforts at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland this week.

Parallel Wireless executives deployed a 700 MHz band 14 LTE network covering the “expressive zones” — also known as protest areas — for the convention. The company deployed an eNodeB about 600 meters south of the convention center, said Steve Kropper, Parallel Wireless vice president of U.S. business development.

Although the network was deployed, it was not part of the official communications plan for the RNC, said Rick Schmahl, Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) program director.

The 1.5-square-kilometer coverage area is providing about 6 Megabits per second (Mbps) downlink data rates on the edge of the network and 4 Mbps on the uplink. The company plans to provide the data to the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) federal program in Boulder, Colorado, for analysis after the event.

The network is using a Parallel Wireless stand-alone evolved packet core (EPC) in case of backhaul failure. Harris County, Texas, also provided access to its EPC, and the company is also working to integrate the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) EPC as a third layer.

The connections are similar to how an opt-out state might connect to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) core, Parallel Wireless executives said. A FirstNet spokeswoman said FirstNet, in conjunction with the FCC, approved a special temporary authority (STA) to use band 14 spectrum for the event.

Kropper said several backhaul options, including a rooftop deployment, a MARCS LMR trailer and a private parking garage, fell through, mainly for security reasons. The company eventually used a flagpole and its own mounts, backhaul and power for the network. He said the network was installed in about 45 minutes.

“Carriers have been planning their networks here for nine months,” Kropper said. “Public safety doesn't have that luxury.”

The company provided live access to the network’s video stream to the press. The video provided was pixelated, and Parallel Wireless executives said the video is sent through the 700 MHz band 14 network but the receiving network — corporate Wi-Fi in this case — could affect the video quality.

The demonstration used software from Mutualink and Cisco. The company had access to about 30 Sonim Technologies devices for the network, and about five devices were being used Monday. Situational awareness software from Intrepid Networks that has ESChat push-to-talk (PTT) software embedded also was used.

In a separate deployment, the city of Cleveland used Vidsys video integration and situation management technology for security operations during the RNC. Cleveland’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) use Vidsys software and recommended expanding the software to City Hall to support the convention.

The city of Cleveland and its public-safety agencies use a P25 radio network for voice communications. In addition, the state’s MARCS P25 system provides interoperability with Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and other assisting agencies, Motorola Solutions said in a statement.

“Motorola Solutions has field teams on hand to provide any assistance necessary throughout the Republican National Convention,” the company said. “Motorola Solutions is under contract to support and maintain the city of Cleveland and the Ohio MARCS radio networks on a 24/7 basis.”

For its part, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Cleveland and the surrounding area is off limits to drones and model aircraft July 17 – 22. The FAA is also restricting traditional aircraft from entering the 30-mile radius zone but will allow gateway airports to continue with normal operating procedures.

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