P25 Phase 2 Products to Hit the Market in August (3/7/11)
Tuesday, March 08, 2011 | Comments

By Sandra Wendelken
With most of the Project 25 (P25) Phase 2 standards documents that suppliers need to build products published, vendors are gearing up to launch commercial Phase 2 products later this year, while some products on the market are upgradeable to Phase 2. However, some Phase 2 interoperability, conformance and performance documents are awaiting publication.

The physical layer standard was completed in 2009, and the media access control (MAC) layer was completed in 2010. Industry officials said these are the two main pieces to move forward with product development.

“We’ll have commercially available equipment in August,” said Brenda Herold, corporate vice president, Motorola Solutions. “We’re well along with operational systems in our labs. We’ll have a live system at IWCE. We have not shipped Phase 2 equipment, but we have a number of contracts for equipment for upgrades to Phase 2 or new systems for Phase 2. The rollout will start based on customer schedules as of August this year.”

Cassidian Communications executives said the firm has been in Phase 2 development using early versions of the standards. “Now that the Phase 2 radio and repeater standards are complete, we are finalizing that development,” said Michael Doerk, product marketing manager for Cassidian Communications. “The CORP25 solutions being proposed today are Phase 2 capable. We also continue to work with a number of vendors in support of their Phase 2 subscriber products.”

“The documents that form the base of Phase 2 are complete, but Phase 2 is by no means completed and finished,” said Scott Bradford, chair of the P25 User Need Subcommittee (UNS). “The Phase 2 Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) documents, among others, have not been published, so there are a lot of things going on.”

“The primary Phase 2 standards documents for over-the-air protocols are either done or very close to being done,” said Randy Richmond, Zetron product manager. “These are the documents needed by manufacturers to design and implement solutions. However, several of the documents needed for test and verification of compliance have yet to be released, and technically, those are required in order to bring compliant products to the market. Work on Phase 2 standards for wireline interfaces is just beginning.”

Richmond said Zetron’s consoles can be field upgraded to incorporate new or enhanced P25 protocols.

A set of five testing documents that are used to do the performance, interoperability and conformance testing are still being developed, Motorola officials said. “Some have been approved and are moving to the next stage of completion in the standards,” Herold said. “All are under way, and four of the five are anticipated for completion in the first half of the year. Some go into more testing than CAP testing would; CAP testing is generally a subset. The fifth document is due in July.”

Bradford said P25 users have several goals that relate to Phase 2 standards. “We need to push for timely adoption of a complete suite of standards, with performance, conformance and interoperability testing because that’s important to the public-safety user community,” he said. “Some Phase 1 standards are not yet completed, and we need to see those completed. A third thing is looking forward to how new technology will impact P25 standards. Software-defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio (CR) are all concerns of the user community, and we’re eager to identify how they integrate with P25 standards. Within the UNS, we have individuals who are assigned to working groups who are following the process.”

Phase 2 standards for consoles and interoperability between systems are still needed, said Cassidian’s Doerk.

“Phase 2 TDMA affects the P25 Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) because it affects the Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) on which the CSSI is based,” said Zetron’s Richmond. “It does not, however, affect the Digital Fixed Station Interface (DFSI) because the DFSI is only used in conventional systems, and TDMA is not yet planned for conventional systems.”

“ISSI is very critical for users and interoperability,” Bradford said. “We need to see the ISSI available to users beyond the pilot projects and evaluate how it will interface with other Phase 2 standards, including the TDMA and CSSI.”

Doerk said that until subscriber units that support Phase 2 are available, users likely won’t have a need to upgrade their networks to Phase 2 capability. “While Phase 2 does provide users with increased capacity and improved spectral efficiency, customers need to weigh the cost of Phase 2-capable subscriber radios versus the capacity benefit,” he said.

Motorola executives will be showcasing the company’s Phase 2 Dynamic Dual Mode product at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas this week. Herold said the product features seamless interoperability from FDMA Phase 1 to TDMA Phase 2. “The move to Phase 2 is a software upgrade from our point of view,” she said. “If a customer has a mix of systems or capabilities of subscribers, we’re not asking the user to think through the interconnections; the system will do that for them.”

Herold said the Motorola Phase 2 product will offer interoperability with other vendors’ products, and announcements with other manufacturers are planned this week.

Harris executives didn’t respond to questions about its Phase 2 rollout plans by press time.

Bradford, also the state of Montana’s communications technology manager, said users are interested in Phase 2 based on the FCC’s narrowbanding mandate and the push for spectral efficiency. He said the P25 UNS is encouraging local, tribal, state or federal users to become involved in the committee. Contact Bradford at sbradford@mt.gov or UNS Vice Chair Julio Laguardia at julio.a.laguardia@usdoj.gov for additional information.

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