Southern Linc’s iDEN-to-LTE Transition Underway
Monday, April 30, 2018 | Comments

Converting Southern Linc’s iDEN network to the CriticalLinc Long Term Evolution (LTE) network is proceeding as planned, according to Southern Linc Engineering Manager Alan McIntyre. Final network and service preparations are underway as Southern Linc's engineering team readies the network for customer use later this year.

Most tower sites from the existing iDEN network were converted to LTE technology using new antennas, radios and cabling. But it's not practical to do this at every site, so additional sites have been built.

“By about mid-year, we will have more than 960 sites in production and operating,” McIntyre said. “That's quite an accomplishment when you consider that it took approximately 20 years to build the iDEN network of 855 sites.

"We were able to use many of the existing iDEN sites for LTE, so where we could, we've taken advantage of our existing infrastructure. That helped speed some sites along. For the new towers needed to build out the LTE network, we have a rather unique process of acquiring sites and having them built by build-to-suit vendors. This process enables us to have the towers where we want them, at the height we want them.”

When fully operational, the new CriticalLinc network will have the same calling features as with iDEN but with additional features, such as cellular calls over Wi-Fi and call handover from Wi-Fi to LTE and vice versa. Nationwide push to talk (PTT) and data service will also be available through Southern Linc's strategic partnerships. Voicemail, and text and picture messaging are also available.

The network will use Motorola Solutions WAVE 7000 platform for mission-critical PTT (MCPTT) service. Southern Linc said it is the first U.S. carrier to offer this public-sector-grade PTT service on a public LTE network.

"We wanted a true MCPTT platform, and after spending almost a year evaluating various platforms, we found that the Motorola system was the best for our needs," McIntyre said. The platform allows the CriticalLinc network to meet the international standards for true MCPTT service, as established by the 3GPP governing body.”

Southern Linc sourced a couple of different network monitoring platforms. One allows the carrier to put probes in the network to monitor traffic flows and to make sure everything's working properly from a core infrastructure perspective.

Redundant data centers in both Birmingham and Atlanta, along with highly resilient emergency power sources at tower sites, will assure that the network goes beyond reliable to true mission-critical dependability.

More information is available here.

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