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Public Safetyís Long Term Evolution
Tim Kridel | Contributing Analyst
LTE-based public-safety networks are more likely to come about piecemeal.

But inadequate funding, inconsistent spectrum availability and deployment delays are compromising the development of mobile public-safety networks based on LTE technology.
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LTE for Public Safety: Donít Count on It
Every industry that uses a proprietary wide-area wireless technology eventually must decide whether to switch to cellular. Public safety is no exception, but it's making the transition in fits and starts, and the end result likely will be more expensive and less comprehensive than anyone involved would like.

This transition is underway in many countries throughout the world, but arguably the most ambitious project is the U.S. First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which operates within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) agency. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet, whose role is to enable a "nationwide, high-speed, broadband network dedicated to public safety," with Long Term Evolution (LTE) as the foundation.

Regardless of how it's implemented, LTE will gradually shift the mix of public-safety devices away from purpose-built land-mobile radios (LMRs) and toward smartphones, tablets, portable routers and other devices adapted from the consumer and business markets. This trend will create opportunities for vendors that sell device-security and -management products for the enterprise market because those solutions will be needed in the public-safety sector, too.

LTE also is an emerging option for drone communications. One reason is because it's a fat pipe, so it's capable of supporting HD video. Another reason is because it has a longer range than the wireless technologies currently used, so it enables public-safety applications where it's dangerous or not practical for the pilot to be close to the site under surveillance.

Even when major initiatives like FirstNet are complete, there will still be situations where LTE service is poor or unavailable. One example is when a disaster takes out a portion of the network; another example is a remote area where the economics don't justify building a commercial or private network in the first place.

LTE's prioritization and QoS features make commercial networks better able to meet public safety's unique requirements. These features, along with the cost of building and operating public-safety-only networks, make it likely that FirstNet and similar initiatives will be the exception rather than the norm.

LTE for Public Safety: Donít Count on It identifies and analyzes these and other key issues driving and inhibiting the public-safety market's adoption of LTE. It discusses how LTE compares to incumbent public-safety technologies, such as P25 and TETRA, in terms of performance and cost. The report is based on interviews with a representative sample of companies in the ecosystem, including Athena Wireless, Cisco, Ethertronics, Harris, Nokia, Sonim Technologies and TeleCommunication Systems (TCS).

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (4gltei0415_toc.pdf)
Many public-safety agencies around the world already use commercial cellular networks to one extent or another. That usage will continue as those agencies migrate to LTE, but in a minority of cases, agencies will own and operate LTE networks. FirstNet is one example, but the common denominator is that these agencies believe ownership is the only way to ensure that the network will be there and theirs when it's needed. The following excerpt lists major examples of municipalities that are moving ahead with their own LTE networks.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Total pages: 12
JANAURY 2015
LTE-A Deployments Spur Need for New Test Solutions
This report examines the LTE-A testing market, analyzing how LTE-A is being used, current drivers and challenges, and a comparative analysis of available solutions. It also examines the geographic landscape of the market and details trends that will likely occur over the next 18-24 months.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
OCTOBER 2014
LTE for Utilities: A Spectrum of Challenges & Opportunities
This report identifies and analyzes key issues driving and inhibiting the utility market's adoption of LTE. It discusses how LTE compares to competitors such as broadband over powerline (BPL), CDMA, fiber and WiMax in terms of cost and capabilities. The report is based on interviews with a representative sample of companies in the ecosystem.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
AUGUST 2014
LTE-A Infrastructure: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis
This report summarizes the drivers of LTE-A network investment, and assesses the products and solutions offered by the leading LTE infrastructure vendors. It also applies a ranking overall to eight leading vendors, and describes their LTE-A approaches and offers.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
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CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Danny Dicks
Danny is an analyst and consultant with over 20 years' experience in technology markets who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider.
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Danny Dicks
CONTACT AUTHOR
ANALYST
Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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ANALYST
Tim Sanders
Tim, president of The Final Mile Inc., is a frequent author, analyst, and industry speaker.
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Tim Sanders
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