TCCA’s Gray Looks to New LTE-Based Initiatives
Monday, September 18, 2017 | Comments
The TCCA is under new leadership and looking toward new initiatives and board members.

TCCA is a partner in the Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP), a collaborative project with financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). MCOP aims to define, develop and validate a mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) user equipment open platform that identifies interfaces between the different technologies in the devices, reduces the integration efforts and removes entry barriers.

“It’s about working to develop an open source program to develop standards-compliant MCPTT applications,” said Tony Gray, who took over as CEO of TCCA this month following the retirement of Phil Kidner. “I think this is an important contribution to promote the global use of global standards-based solutions.”

Spain’s University of the Basque Country is leading the project, supported by Finnish rugged device maker Bittium; Expway, a French Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadcast technology provider; and TCCA. The group received US$1.26 million to develop different levels of application programming interfaces (APIs), Android-based open source implementation of an MCPTT client, an application and a live platform in which researchers, developers and other practitioners can test, evaluate and validate MCPTT-compliant applications.

Gray said TCCA’s role will be disseminating the work and “making sure the world knows we’re providing this as an open source tool, free that people can use.”

The association also announced a new vendor broadband group earlier this month. Headed by Nokia and Ericsson executives, Broadband Industry Group (BIG) will drive market adoption of Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standardized critical communications Long Term Evolution (LTE) and subsequent 5G technologies for critical communications users and organizations.

“It will focus on ensuring that 3GPP-compliant products and services meet the evolving needs of all mission-critical users and develop a worldwide ecosystem, which is to everyone’s advantage,” Gray said.

The group will also provide guidance to commercial operators such as AT&T and EE and other carriers that are considering providing mission-critical broadband services. Gray said Airbus Defence and Space, Bittium, Huawei and Motorola Solutions were also at the kickoff meeting, and other suppliers are interested.

Gray was the initial chairman of TCCA’s Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG), and the two groups will work together.

“BIG is taking the standards and translating them into conformant equipment, and the two need to be in close collaboration to ensure we’ll see industry focusing on translating standards into equipment,” he said.

TCCA is also a partner with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which held the first MCPP Plugtest in June. Another similar event is planned for 2018, possibly in the United States.

As the market evolves from TETRA and other narrowband voice solutions to broadband technology, TCCA plans to emphasize its leadership in critical communications. Gray said there will be a variety of implementations and operational models around the globe.

“I doubt we’ll see a ‘big bang’ switch over from TETRA to LTE; it will be a more gradual migration and parallel networks running,” he said. “TETRA will definitely be here for a long time yet.

“The Belgians and Dutch are in the process of replacing their TETRA networks and upgrading them. I expect them to gradually step into the broadband space but probably not with their own equipment and networks but by working with commercial operators.”

TCCA has two board vacancies and plans to announce the new board members this week. The new members will join current board members Ali Helenius with Airbus Defence and Space; Dr. Barbara Held, with Germany’s BDBOS; Francesco Pasquali with Leonardo; Jeppe Jepsen with Motorola Solutions; Malcolm Quelch, who works for Sepura; and Tero Pesonen, an independent consultant. Mladen Vratonjic is the TCCA chairman.

Both Gray and Pesonen are members of the RadioResource International editorial advisory board.

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