Indiana Connects Statewide P25 Core to AT&T’s EPTT Platform
Tuesday, May 05, 2020 | Comments
Indiana’s Integrated Public Safety Commission (IPSC) has connected its statewide Project 25 (P25) 700/800 MHz network core to AT&T’s Enhanced Push-to-Talk (EPTT) platform using the P25 Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI), in the first such implementation in the nation. The EPTT platform is used by Indiana’s First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) users.

“In early January, we connected our statewide LMR system core to the AT&T EPTT platform used by FirstNet subscribers via an ISSI interface,” said Kelly Dignin, executive director, Indiana IPSC. “It’s really an amazing technology. Several agencies are testing it and rolling it out. We are documenting the effects it will have on the system. Agencies are lining up and starting to want to use this.”

Dignin said the capability to connect an LMR radio seamlessly to the EPTT platform will augment communications for the state’s agencies and officials. The statewide network has 180 towers throughout the state and strong mobile and portable on-the-street coverage, but indoor coverage, such as inside schools with thick brick walls, is always an issue. With the connection, a school resource officer on the LTE network can connect via the school’s Wi-Fi and then back to the P25 network.

“I think it will augment communications for many first responders,” Dignin said. “That’s our number one reason to move forward. It addresses those low-coverage areas. Our first responders can always talk back to their dispatch in a case of emergency, and the only additional cost for them is the EPTT app.”

In addition, many of the FirstNet Android devices have an emergency button, which translates through to the radio side if pushed during an emergency.

“We foresee this as having a major impact,” said Sally Fay, Indiana’s statewide interoperability coordinator (SWIC). “We see this as a major initiative to help allow smaller agencies to maintain communications — especially as budgets shrink due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

A team of AT&T and Motorola Solutions officials worked with technical staff from the state to facilitate and coordinate all the connections from the P25 system to the platform. AT&T executives have been working with IPSC officials for about eight months to lay out a technology process road map, including a business process for agencies to onboard the service, said AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards.

“The biggest challenge was establishing a robust connectivity between the two systems — P25 and the EPTT platform,” he said. “It’s never been done at this scale, statewide, before. Interoperability and officer safety are the primary benefits. There’s also cost savings related to devices. Another benefit is non-mission-critical personnel having access to the communications activity, allowing for improved situational awareness.”

In addition, the capability exists for commercial carrier users with an EPTT app on their devices to talk with a FirstNet user using an EPTT app, Soards said.

“We’re committed to providing our customers, including the state of Indiana, with the solutions they need for interoperable communications,” said Nicole Sherrill, territory vice president, central region sales, Motorola Solutions. “Indiana has long relied on its ASTRO 25 LMR network for mission-critical voice communications, and we are continuing to work with them on new ways to extend the exchange of information across networks.

“By taking the initial steps to integrate FirstNet with its statewide radio system, Indiana is helping to ensure its first responders will have an additional tool at their fingertips to help them with their life-saving mission,” said FirstNet CEO Edward Parkinson. “The state of Indiana and IPSC are leading the nation when it comes to innovation for public-safety communications. We are proud to support Indiana’s first responders and their critical communications needs.”

“Indiana IPSC has demonstrated leadership and technology innovation in the public-safety space, nationally,” Soards said. “There’s never been a more critical time for FirstNet and public-safety leaders to be working together for this kind of leadership given the current COVID-19 pandemic and budget constraints.”

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Comments
On 5/6/20, Nick Smith said:
We have been using this technology since early 2019 as an interoperability component to our LMR system. Works great and should be the direction we all take as elected officials to increase coverage while saving valuable tax dollars. FirstNet has been a great partner. Not only have we been using it since early 2019 in Harrison County, Indiana, the Walker County Sheriff's Office in Jasper, Alabama, has been using it as well. Glad to see the state of Indiana has chosen to follow suit.


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