New Resource Tackles Issues Surrounding Public-Safety Prioritization on Commercial Networks
Thursday, June 06, 2019 | Comments

A new white paper from TCCA examines public-safety prioritization on commercial networks, including mechanisms and legal considerations.

Different prioritization mechanisms need to be implemented to ensure that first responders get the highest level of priority to the shared radio access network (RAN) when they are using a commercial network infrastructure. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has standardized many prioritization mechanisms for mission-critical services.

The mechanisms include access class barring, used in many countries as a defense mechanism against overload that could lead to a total outage; pre-emption; admission control through allocation and retention priority; and quality of service (QoS) class identifiers. In addition, implementing national roaming between commercial networks is also a consideration as a cost-effective way of gaining enhanced network resilience.

The United States and the United Kingdom are rolling out public-safety services over commercial networks and have successfully tested prioritization and pre-emption features. In terms of technology, prioritization of first responders connected to a shared commercial RAN is no longer a challenge. However, legal issues need to be addressed country by country to allow pre-emption and national roaming.

For example, in many countries national roaming is not allowed as it could harm competition between the different mobile operators. Some countries such as Belgium and Finland have already taken legal action to enable national roaming between all their mobile operators, limited to critical communications users. Norway has national roaming capability for qualified users with a role or function of vital interest to the society. In Austria, access class barring is forbidden as commercial users cannot be discriminated from public-safety users.

Depending on the local legislation, resource pre-emption on the commercial network can be a legal issue, and first responders having first priority on the mobile network might be in contradiction with net neutrality.

The white paper includes input from governments and critical communications network operators, and looks forward to prioritization in 5G, including network slicing and non-terrestrial networks (NTN).

The 12-page white paper is available here.

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