Nordic Countries Emphasize Importance of 700 MHz Dedicated PPDR Spectrum
Thursday, January 21, 2016 | Comments

The owners of the public-safety radio networks in Sweden, Norway and Finland emphasized the importance of dedicated frequencies in the 700 MHz band for emergency communications in a joint white paper. Broadband data is the key word in the white paper signed by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, Finnish State Security Networks and the Norwegian Directorate for Emergency Communication.

The three Nordic countries’ operational personnel in public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) organizations use TETRA technology for their emergency communications systems — respectively Rakel in Sweden, VIRVE in Finland and Nødnett in Norway. The Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC) works to ensure harmonized conditions across Europe for the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum.

TETRA radio systems operate in the 380 – 400  MHz range. They are excellent for voice communications and have extensive coverage and security and operate independent of commercial mobile networks. However, the frequencies are insufficient to meet PPDR organizations’ increased need for secure and robust broadband data.

The 700 MHz band has so far been allocated for broadcasting purposes, but the frequencies will eventually be allocated for broadband communications in the Nordic countries. The three Nordic critical communications network owners recommend that part of the 700 MHz frequency band should be dedicated for use by PPDR organizations. Without dedicated frequencies, the next-generation emergency communications systems must be built exclusively on commercial operators’ networks. It is questioned whether commercial networks can offer functionality and sufficient technical quality, robustness and security for PPDR use. In addition, there is no guarantee that commercial operators will be willing to meet the needs of PPDR.

“Dedicated networks will undoubtedly provide the best security and data safety and greater possibilities for sending large volumes of important and mission critical data,” a statement from the groups said. “The 700 MHz band is pointed to as the only realistic alternative to achieve a harmonized solution for future emergency communication systems in Europe. This band is well suited for achieving high percentage area coverage and good indoor coverage without having to invest in unrealistic, extensive and expensive infrastructures.”

The white paper points out that a harmonized approach is important considering that radio equipment is to operate across national borders. Norway and Sweden are already well underway with this work. The two countries’ TETRA networks will be interconnected by fall 2016. The white paper also underlines that a larger market also provides better conditions for further development of services and functionality. Even if the PPDR community to some extent requires specialized handsets, the key components should be the same to avoid becoming a niche market. The United States, Canada and France selected the 700 MHz frequency band and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology for their PPDR mobile broadband networks.

The white paper is here.

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Comments
On 2/4/16, Peter said:
This is of interest if only to protect critical voice. There is an argument that prioritization pre-emption may not work as required when hosting public safety on a commercial network so having voice in dedicated spectrum does make sense.

Then you have to consider at what cost rolling out a 700 MHz critical voice overlay is not for the faint hearted or those with a finite budget.

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