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Analysys Mason study into public safety mobile broadband and spectrum needs

Date: Fri, 05/21/2010 - 13:56 Source: Analysys Mason PR department

The majority of public safety users in Europe currently use dedicated radio networks for their mobile communications that have been designed specifically to meet their needs. These networks typically use digital mobile communications technologies such as TETRA or TETRAPOL and operate using spectrum in the 380–400MHz band. They offer a range of low-rate data services, but the speed and capacity available within those networks limits the more widespread use of higher-speed data applications

Analysys Mason study into public safety mobile broadband and spectrum needs Figure 1: The four alternative evolution paths and their impact on network requirements [Source: Analysys Mason]

In line with increasing demand for access to information on the move, public safety operations are becoming more information-driven, requiring access to a broader range of wideband and broadband applications. These include high-quality imaging, uploading and downloading large data files, and real-time video.
Given the limitations in the capacity of existing dedicated networks to deliver mobile broadband services, it is considered likely that a new generation of solutions will be required across Europe in the next five to ten years. Such solutions, if delivered using new, dedicated mobile broadband networks designed to meet public safety requirements, will require additional spectrum to deliver the services required.
In order to define the benefits of a new generation of dedicated mobile broadband networks, and to support the identification of additional spectrum, the TETRA Association commissioned Analysys Mason to undertake a study to gather information on future public safety user requirements, based on a review of existing documents and reports recently published in Europe.
As part of the study, we reviewed a wide range of existing documents and reports relevant to this market segment, in order to determine:
• the mobile data and multimedia applications that are envisaged to be in widespread use within the public safety sector over the short and medium term
• the network requirements associated with such applications, i.e. the specific operational requirements of mobile communications networks that will meet public safety user requirements
• the benefits to the public safety sector of developing the next generation of dedicated mobile data networks (requiring additional, dedicated spectrum to deliver), compared to alternatives, such as re-engineering existing or planned commercial networks in Europe.

Summary of options to meet the public safety sector’s evolving requirements
Analysys Mason defined four possible evolution paths for the future demand for mobile broadband applications within the public safety sector as part of the study. Consideration of these different evolution paths demonstrated that the capabilities of current narrowband and wideband dedicated mobile networks used by the public safety sector will not be sufficient to meet future requirements under three of the four evolution paths that we defined. The only evolution path that could be accommodated by existing networks is the “steady growth” path. However, this is not sustainable in the longer term as there is growing evidence of trends and changes in working methods that suggest that it will not meet future demands.

A summary of the four alternative evolution paths and their impact on network requirements is provided in Figure 1

The four evolution paths indicate that a new generation of mobile broadband service is required to accommodate the range of future data, image and multimedia applications that public safety users will demand. The options for delivering this new generation of services include making use of upgraded commercial networks (e.g. using HSPA+/LTE technology) with network deployment modified to meet the specific operational requirements of the public safety sector), or developing a new generation of dedicated mobile broadband networks for exclusive public safety use.

Conclusions
Our study has found that, in line with trends already identified, a diverse range of data, imaging and multimedia applications are in demand within the public safety sector. Demand for access to a wider range of information is being driven by changes in working practices, requiring access to a far wider range of data sources (textual, images and video) than is typical in current commercial mobile networks. Sharing of data types (e.g. textual, images, video) between agencies and between field and central command staff is being used to establish and maintain a common operational understanding. This has a number of benefits, including improving responsiveness, aiding the deployment of resources and improving timeliness and decision-making in daily public safety operations and when responding to major planned or unplanned events.
The evolution paths modelled illustrate the public safety sector’s need for a next generation of mobile broadband network to deliver the range of applications that are envisaged for the future. As there is a limit to the range and volume of data and multimedia applications that existing dedicated narrowband and wideband networks, and existing commercial networks, can provide, if a new generation of mobile broadband network is not made available, some new applications cannot be delivered. Ultimately, this will affect how emerging working practices might evolve within the public safety sector and, in the longer term, constrain the further development of the sector. 

 

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