Published: 16 May, 2012
This week saw Alcatel-Lucent partnering with Cassidian, the defence arm of the EADS group, to develop an LTE solution designed to work with existing PMR (professional mobile radio) systems in the main international public safety band, 380MHz to 470MHz.
Many vertical markets which have always used dedicated networks, such as emergency response, are now adding LTE services to support increased mobile data usage. The ALU offering, called Evercor, supports video and data applications such as facial recognition or video streaming, and while primarily geared to emergency services, it is also applicable to other PMR systems users such as the transport or energy sectors.
Evercor will integrate LTE base stations from ALU, plus packet core and backhaul, with equipment based on the main PMR standard, Tetra, namely Cassidian's LTE 400 remote radio head, terminals and applications. The resulting integrated LTE 400 eNodeB can then be fitted into Cassidian's new TB3S Tetra base station. The system will allow existing Tetra sites and equipment, to reduce the cost of introducing data-intensive applications.
Significant growth is expected in public safety LTE from this year, with 11 commercial contracts already awarded, as of March, and some major international trials. According to research by MindCommerce, the market will grow at CAGR of 90% between 2011 and 2016, from $240m last year to over $6bn at the end of the period, though the bulk of this sum will go to carriers, for operating the networks, rather than on equipment. With operating fees accounting for as much as 80% of revenues, Mind expects some infrastructure suppliers to adopt the 'build, own and operate' model also seen in mainstream mobile networks.
As the Evercor launch highlights, the adoption of LTE-based data and multimedia services by safety agencies will not replace Tetra or other PMR systems such as APCO25. Indeed, even in 2016, LTE subscriptions will account for only 5% of the total PMR user base.