TCCA Releases White Paper on 5G in Critical Communications
Monday, October 04, 2021 | Comments

5G networks promise greater capabilities to critical users, but further specification work is needed to ensure their unique requirements are met. A new white paper from TCCA, the global organization for the advancement of standardized critical communications technologies, says that ultimately, 5G will enable cooperation between critical users to become more efficient and effective. As a result, the safety of first responders and the communities they protect will be enhanced.

The white paper addresses a number of key questions raised by the critical communications community on the role of 5G, including how it compares to 4G LTE, the initial use cases, the expected impacts on user operations and the likely market availability of such solutions.

5G opens up the potential for a range of new services, most notably driven by 5G’s ultra-reliable low latency communications and support for massive machine-type device deployments. Use cases that will benefit users include enhanced situational awareness through the use of advanced video recognition capability and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered analysis of data. For first responders, this means control rooms will have a far more accurate view of a situation and can better allocate people and resources. Information can be shared between agencies seamlessly, via cloud-based application platforms.

In terms of standardization, several of the 5G network enablers have been specified in Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) releases 15 and 16. However, some enablers critical for use cases such as broadcast and device-to-device communications are still in development and not expected before 2023. The white paper outlines the expected timescales for this work and warns that although there are some early 5G devices available now, those suitable for critical communications will not be available for at least another year. Similarly, while applications that could benefit critical communications users have been designed for 5G networks, these are not yet mature or proven enough for mission-critical operational use.

Jason Johur, TCCA board member, chair of TCCA’s Broadband Industry Group and head of strategy and market development for Ericsson's mission-critical networks business, was the lead author on the white paper.

“While 4G LTE delivered a paradigm shift in critical communications versus previous technology generations, 5G brings evolutionary change in terms of speed, latency, security, breadth of use cases and quality of service,” said Johur. “There is a growing global ecosystem committed to driving further standardization and development of 5G features and services to ensure the networks, applications and devices will fully support the crucial work of critical communications operators and users.”

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