Southern Linc Replaces Motorola's MCPTT Technology with Ericsson
Wednesday, February 05, 2020 | Comments

Southern Linc will deploy mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) technology from Ericsson Group Radio on its mission-critical Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, replacing the Motorola Solutions WAVE 7000 product that Southern Linc previously deployed. The network is used by utilities and public-safety agencies in several southern states including Georgia and Alabama and parts of Mississippi.

A two-phased deployment will include launching MCPTT services that conform to Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 14 to internal Southern Co. utility users by the end of the year and to the full customer base by the second quarter of 2020, said Tami Barron, president and CEO of Southern Linc. 

She said Motorola is ending support for the Wave 7000 product, and the Ericsson MCPTT technology will replace the Motorola technology. Ericsson’s technology will feature multicast over evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) to support large talkgroups in limited geographical areas, as well as user and service management capabilities to facilitate controlled group communications within and across large end-user organizations. The Ericsson deployment does not include a proximity services (ProSe) or direct mode feature, however.

Ericsson said its Group Radio MCPTT technology is one of the cornerstones of its end-to-end mission-critical communications offering. Ericsson is the sole provider of Southern Linc’s LTE evolved packet core (EPC), IP multimedia subsystem (IMS), eMBMS and 4G radio access network (RAN). The contract includes an MCPTT solution that will evolve over time to cater to new capabilities, including the eventual transition to 5G networks, the supplier said.

“When first responders are out in the field, seconds matter, and reliable communications can be a life-or-death issue,” said Barron. “Ericsson has been a trusted partner of ours, and this solution gives our customers reliable push-to-talk services that help those dedicated to protecting and serving others.”

In 2017, the Huntsville-Madison County (Alabama) 9-1-1 Dispatch Center (MadCo 9-1-1) contracted with Southern Linc for mission-critical LTE, and Southern Linc said at that time that Ericsson was providing the RAN and EPC.

“MCPTT is an important part of Ericsson’s portfolio and demonstrates our commitment to those whose job it is to keep us safe,” said Rob Johnson, head of customer unit regional carriers for Ericsson North America. “As a trusted partner to operators and governments around the world, our technologies ensure mobile network services can be prioritized in critical times.”

Barron said Southern Linc has about 170 sites to deploy to finish its LTE buildout. The carrier is at 80% coverage by square miles, and once the additional sites are built, the network will have 95% square-mile coverage. She said each site except in-building or on-building sites have fuel cells or backup generators for five to seven days of on-site power generation. Path redundancy is through microwave or last-mile fiber.

“It’s critical for our crews to get the lights back on,” she said. “We built this network, not just from a coverage perspective, but also from a resiliency perspective with backup site generation.”

Last year, Southern Linc also requested an FCC experimental license to trial Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) using equipment from Ericsson and other vendors.

Ericsson demoed its MCPTT offering at a defense conference in 2017.

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Note: This story has been updated with more information from Southern Linc.

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