Industry Innovation Pushes on Amid Pandemic
Wednesday, May 13, 2020 | Comments
The world around us — both globally and locally — changed dramatically a few months ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit country after country. Many things have changed, among them numerous cancellations and job losses, but one positive is the continuing innovation in the mission-critical communications industry.

The pace of new technology announcements hasn’t slowed despite the global crisis from the novel coronoavirus’ quick and deadly spread. Since mid-March, when the pandemic began to have dramatic effects in the U.S. specifically, there have been new high-power user equipment (HPUE) announcements, mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) advances and continuing digital radio interoperability developments.

Earlier this month, Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) awarded funding to 25 companies in its Tech to Protect Challenge. The teams and technologies developed for public safety under that program are impressive, and we’ll be highlighting a few in future coverage.

In a separate development, one state made a connection between its Project 25 (P25) network and the First Responder Network Authority Enhanced Push-to-Talk (EPTT) platform, in the first such implementation in the nation. Further digital radio interoperability announcements are expected, sources said.

With Airgain’s new HPUE solution, the company integrated an HPUE modem within an antenna assembly, ensuring transmission of the maximum allowable radiated power directly to the LTE antenna elements to enhance coverage. On the MCPTT front, AT&T announced a controlled introduction of MCPTT, Catalyst announced a new LMR-to-LTE MCPTT interworking platform, and a new initiative for MCPTT testing is underway.

In addition, new policy is predicted to drive even further innovation. With the FCC’s new 6 GHz rules that allow unlicensed use in the band for the first time and the May 900 MHz rules to allow broadband services in that spectrum for the first time without a guard band, interference mitigation will be a top priority for many licensees. I expect big innovations in the interference arena, and I’ve already seen several interesting developments, including a new offering from Aviat Networks.

All this in just a few months and during a global pandemic. These technologies, products and research and development (R&D) are just a few of the innovations in recent weeks; we’ve covered many more online and in our print magazines. We can’t thank enough the frontline workers who are caring for the sick and ensuring essential services and businesses remain on track, and it’s heartening to see that industry innovation hasn’t slowed in these tough times.

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