Catalyst Announces New Platform for LMR-to-LTE MCPTT Interworking
Thursday, April 16, 2020 | Comments

Catalyst Communications Technologies announced a new platform that enables LMR subscribers to communicate with users of mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) applications on LTE networks through standards compliant interfaces.

IntelliLink Interworking leverages Catalyst’s 20 years’ experience with sophisticated radio control and interface technology with new development using Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards to interface to LTE networks, including the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The result is the first interworking solution in the market based upon these standards and follows the industry trend toward standards-based solutions and away from today’s profusion of incompatible PTT over cellular (PoC) solutions.

Interworking has long been considered a key component of FirstNet adoption as public-safety organizations will need a migration strategy as they and allied agencies move to FirstNet. They will require simultaneous dispatch and device-to-device communications between LMR and LTE during the transition.

Industry groups are working on an Interworking approach based on the Project 25 (P25) Inter Sub System Interface (ISSI) standard for the LMR interface and the 3GPP MCX standard for LTE. While that model may be appropriate for many larger agencies, the cost will be high and the low deployment rate of ISSI will make it impractical for the broader market of public-safety organizations. These organizations, many with older technologies, will also need an interworking solution to migrate to FirstNet. Catalyst’s Intellilink Interworking solution is flexible and will support a wide variety of LMR radio networks. Catalyst’s road map provides a vision for how interworking will likely develop and how Catalyst plans to augment existing efforts to define a P25 ISSI-to-LTE interface with a solution that also enables other LMR technologies. This includes other standard LMR interfaces such as the P25 Common Air Interface (CAI) and Digital Fixed Station Interface (DFSI), the Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Application Interface Specification (AIS) and analog FM, as well as proprietary radio protocols including SmartNet, EDACS and NEXEDGE.

As part of the overall IntelliLink Interworking solution, two simple user interface platforms for managing interworking talkgroups and channels are provided, both “infinitely” configurable. One of these tools is for interworking only, and one is a complete mission-critical dispatch console for both LTE and LMR.

In 2018, Catalyst was awarded a contract by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to investigate standards-based interworking that will enable mission-critical communications between first responders using LMR systems and cellular devices over LTE networks with PTT applications. The contract was the result of a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program solicitation won by Catalyst in competition with other businesses. DHS S&T was interested in technology and solutions that take advantage of existing standards in P25 LMR and 3GPP LTE technologies to create seamless communications between users on these systems.

FirstNet and the first responder community are committed to standards-based interfaces for both LMR and LTE networks to enable communications between MCPTT devices on these networks. Catalyst interworking solutions are a complete departure from existing over the top (OTT) LTE solutions because they are compliant with the MCPTT standard and not “almost mission critical;” they provide the performance that public safety needs, including minimal delay, protection against lost syllables and words, and metadata; and true MCPTT can be integrated with the carrier’s broader solution so that, for instance, subscribers can manage their device, so PTT audio is not lost when someone places a telephone call to their cellphone.

To complement our extensive technology and knowledge of LMR networks, Catalyst partnered with Softil Communications Services for key technology relating to the 3GPP MCPTT/MCX Standard interface for LTE Networks.

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