3GPP LMR Interworking Standard Targeted to be Completed by Year-End
Thursday, July 12, 2018 | Comments

A new work item on interworking with legacy LMR was approved at the June Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) plenary meeting for Release 16. While Release 16 work is not expected to be frozen until the end of 2019, completion of the interworking effort is targeted for December 2018.

While the buzz at the latest meetings in California was around the finalized 5G new radio (NR) stand-alone (SA) specifications, there were also developments in mission-critical standards, including the LMR interworking item.

The LMR interworking work was part of the Core Network and Terminals (CT) plenary, which also declared Release 15 Stage 3 (protocol development) of 5G Phase 1 complete. Nonetheless, extensions for specific enhancements were granted through the end of September including some items for mission-critical features, said Dean Prochaska, director of standards, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

While the work to finish specific mission-critical features is still significant, steps are being taken in 3GPP to schedule a significant amount of time at meetings during the next three months. FirstNet is taking steps to organize this accelerated effort on behalf of the companies that contributed to this effort and that will take advantage of this new meeting time. “Our goal is to complete these enhancements by September,” Prochaska said in a blog.

A major capability in the Release 15 work will be an enhancement to use the location of a first responder to ensure that the person is notified when they enter an emergency alert area. This same capability will allow automatic affiliation/deaffiliation from a group based on crossing a geographic boundary. Another public-safety capability is automated and dynamic updating of a first responder’s profile triggered by criteria such as time of day, location and incident activity.

A number of improvements are being undertaken to enhance the delivery of mission-critical voice, data (MCData) and video (MCVideo) to first responders via broadcast features. Those improvements include delivery of emergency alerts, group configurations and short data. Relative to direct mode communications (device to device), enhancements are planned that cover distribution of emergency alerts and data files, both when off-network and when connected to the network via a relay device, the blog said.

Finally, there are enhancements regarding the ability to push video to other devices and for devices to share their capabilities to take full advantage of what LTE can offer planned.

The Radio Access Network (RAN) plenary addressed the Release 15 5G NR SA specification. The 5G Release 15 “late drop,” containing additions to Release 15 to support architecture options four and seven, is on track for completion by the end of 2018. Option four is a non-stand-alone (NSA) architecture where NR/Long Term Evolution (LTE) dual-mode mobiles will work with a next-generation core in “NR assisted” mode, and option seven is another NSA architecture where LTE/NR dual mode mobiles will work with NG core in “LTE assisted” mode. These different architecture options are crucial to support evolution from an LTE network to a 5G network.

Some of the other focus areas related to public safety discussed and advanced during this plenary include:
• LTE user equipment (UE) positioning that supports increased location accuracy determination,
• Enhancements to LTE operation in unlicensed spectrum that would increase data throughput, and
• Enhanced LTE support for aerial vehicles such as those used for surveillance.

The RAN plenary also completed a package identifying the work/study items that are part of Release 16, 5G Phase 2, assuring the completion of its specification by December 2019. Some of the items of public safety interest in 5G Phase 2 include:
• NR vehicle to infrastructure (V2X) (sidelink applicability for public-safety services),
• NR multiple input multiple output (MIMO) for improved data throughput,
• Nonorthogonal multiple access (NOMA) for improving tradeoff between system capacity and user fairness (eliminating near-far effects), and
• Narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT), which could potentially serve many public-safety applications.

The Service and System Aspects (SA) plenary focused on continued progress for Release 16 work items. Because it is early in the Release 16 schedule, there was much discussion on prioritization and coordination with other technical specification groups (TSGs), particularly RAN, to ensure that all aspects of system level features are included in each TSG's release planning.

SA2 (architecture) prioritized its work items and aligned them with RAN Release 16 projects. SA2 touches mission-critical work at the intersection of network architecture and enablers such as end-to-end quality of service, priority, and pre-emption (QPP); the IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) core; location services (LCS); and the group communication system enabler (GCSE). SA2 has progressed the work for the “Enhancement to Service Based Architecture for Location Services” and “Enhanced IMS to 5GC (5G Core Network) Integration” Release 16 studies.

Location services and IMS are key for mission-critical services. SA2 approved a number of new Release 16 studies that help enhance services for the public-safety community. For example, one of the objectives of a new work item for enhanced real-time communications is to improve the call setup time for group communications by enhancing IMS message flows, the blog said.

In SA6, the mission-critical applications working group, several new work items related to public safety were proposed and approved. These included new features such as discrete listening, plus enhancements to interworking, mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) and MCData. The list of new work also includes a study to determine changes to existing specifications to support mission-critical services over 5G.

Finally, in SA1, the Stage 1 requirements working group, the technical reports for studies on high-accuracy positioning and satellite communications were completed and approved. In addition, new work items related to mission-critical features or compatible verticals such as maritime communications, and the normative work phases of satellite communications and high accuracy positioning were approved.

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