AT&T Continues to Work on Interoperability Between MCPTT Solutions
Thursday, April 07, 2022 | Comments

AT&T is working on making its two mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) solutions interoperable, possibly by the end of the year.

“The timeline is fluid, but we stated end of the year, and we’re working toward that,” said Scott Agnew, AT&T director of market development, public-safety solutions during an interview at the 2022 International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE).

AT&T released the first FirstNet MCPTT offering, FirstNet Push to Talk, in 2020, and the second, FirstNet Rapid Response, followed in 2021. The company is currently working on an interworking function that will allow interoperability between the two solutions.

Agnew said that FirstNet Rapid Response was released without interoperability with FirstNet Push to Talk, because the company wanted first responders to have choice with their MCPTT solutions on the FirstNet network.

“I did not want to wait to release this solution,” Agnew said. “We are working on interoperability, and it will be coming.”

That work on the IWF for MCPTT will be part of a focus on continued innovation on the FirstNet network throughout 2022, Agnew said.

Z-axis is one area in which that continued innovation will occur. The current FirstNet Z-axis solution provides height above terrain information, but AT&T is working to add 3D visualization, so it’s possible to not only tell what floor someone is on but where exactly in the building that person is in.

Agnew said AT&T is working with multiple vendors on 3D visualization but does not have specific timelines for when that feature will be available.

Earlier this year, AT&T and the Safer Buildings Coalition (SBC) partnered to help address in-building coverage issues. Agnew said that FirstNet’s band 14 spectrum is a great band to help improve public-safety in-building coverage because it belongs to public safety and “carries all the functionality expected from a small cell.”

“We’re here to step up and give the tools necessary for public safety to do its job, and we’re fully supportive of band 14 everywhere,” he said.

In regards to FirstNet MegaRange, the high power user equipment (HPUE) solution for FirstNet, Agnew said that AT&T has seen a lot of interest in the solution.

“The future is very bright,” Agnew said. “Customers want to have conversations about it. They want to test it and see it perform. You can’t change the physics on how far a tower propagates, but when you’re on the outer edges, you can use this to extend it.”

Both Airgain and Assured Wireless have released HPUE devices. Agnew said he expects to see even more use in the environment as more products with different form factors are introduced.

“They are great devices, high-performing devices,” he said. “As different form factors are developed, there will be more options.”

A key driver of the continued innovation of FirstNet will be 5G, which has already been deployed on network in markets across the country, Agnew said.

“The last couple of years it’s been about innovation with MegaRange, Z-axis and MCPTT,” he said. “This year is about continuing to push the envelope on innovation.”

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Comments
On 4/13/22, Juan Pruneda said:
Good news waiting to the point that LMR systems are not that critical any more.


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