Public Safety Broadband Stakeholders Have to Decide

PSCR-hosted-the-Public-Safety-Broadband-Stakeholder-Conference-June-4-6-2013-in-Westminster-ColoradoIn the effort to build out the nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, stakeholders are making themselves heard. They were heard at the Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Conference held last week, June 4-6, 2013, outside of Denver, Colo., hosted by the Public Safety Communications Research lab. It brought to the surface the many competing agendas local public safety network operators, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), wired and wireless vendors and even mobile app developers contend with.

Aviat Networks had a chance to sit down with Tammy Parker, editor of FierceBroadbandWireless, during the conference to discuss some of these issues, such as the debate on the effectiveness of fiber optic technology in backhauling public safety networks. The fact is that microwave indeed will be a key element in the design and implementation of the FirstNet mission-critical network. And fiber does not provide the reliability and survivability needed. In the commercial mobile telecom space, the poor survivability of fiber is tolerated, but when it comes down to crunch time when lives are on the line, public safety operators will take microwave over leased fiber.

Randy Jenkins, Aviat director of business development, expanded on this vital decision for public safety operators to make between microwave and fiber. “As a vendor vested in the public safety community for more than 50 years, Aviat understands its responsibility to find innovative ways of offering microwave solutions that can save CAPEX and OPEX in support of the biggest challenge FirstNet is addressing—not enough money. Aviat is bringing backhaul innovation to this program.”

The bottom line is that backhaul is always the bottleneck in any network planning. In that case, it’s important for public safety operators to address that aspect first, according to Tony Ljubicich, Aviat’s vice president of sales and services.

If you would like to hear more about how Aviat Networks is making microwave backhaul the best choice for FirstNet-ready public safety, leave your contact information and reference the upcoming webinar on public safety broadband backhaul for a major statewide network. We’ll let you know when it’s scheduled.

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FirstNet Faces the Facts

FirstNet is facing technological challenges as it careens toward key decisions for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. That was the key takeaway when APCO held its Public Safety Broadband Summit in Washington D.C., May 13-14. In that context, backhaul continues to be a hot topic. Typically more of an afterthought in commercial telecom systems, backhaul becomes the 900-pound gorilla in the room when defining high reliability telecom networks such as mission-critical public safety networks. This is due to the extremely high cost of fiber—CAPEX for new runs and OPEX for leasing—as well as its proven lack of survivability in worst-case scenarios.

For example, during Superstorm Sandy, 25 percent of all affected commercial mobile sites were down, and most had to be propped up by temporary microwave radio backhaul solutions due to the lengthy time needed to replace the damaged fiber. Chief Dowd of NYPD provided insight into the situation stating that the network’s reliability is defined during worst-case conditions, not during sunny days.

Aviat Networks’ APCO presentation, below, from the Broadband Summit dives deeper into these issues:

Or we can talk to you directly about your concerns for your mission-critical Public Safety network requirements.

Randy Jenkins
Director, Business Development
Aviat Networks

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THE Mobile Marketplace: Towers, Small Cells and Backhaul

CTIA: The Wireless Association held its annual show in Las Vegas, May 21-23, 2013. Photo credit: @jbtaylor / Foter.com / CC BY

CTIA: The Wireless Association held its annual show in Las Vegas, May 21-23. Photo credit: @jbtaylor / Foter.com / CC BY

This week, Aviat Networks participated in the very well attended CTIA 2013 wireless and mobile trade show in Las Vegas. The theme for this year’s event was “THE Mobile Marketplace” with various areas of focus dealing with applications, devices and, of course, infrastructure. LTE, backhaul and small cells were once again important infrastructure-related topics during the event.

Aviat was a Platinum Sponsor of the Tower & Small Cell Summit—a sub-conference program composed of presentations, panels and case studies on wireless backhaul, mobile video, Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), small cells, 4G and residential tower builds. I spoke on a panel at this event and shared our views on small cell evolution, including our thoughts on the migration of the mobile network to the Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN) architecture—if interested in this topic, please register for our upcoming webinars: North America or Europe, Middle East, Africa.

In addition, this show also paid significant attention to FirstNet—the nationwide public safety LTE network here in the United States. Aviat’s Ronil Prasad shared Aviat’s perspective on FirstNet, options for network sharing to reduce costs and best practices for building mission-critical backhaul networks for public safety LTE (with our 60-year history in public safety and our deployments in some of the largest LTE networks in the world, we are uniquely qualified to talk on this topic).

In addition, Aviat’s meeting facility experienced a constant flow of customers, industry analysts and partners, which kept Aviat staff on its toes for the entire event. Overall, it was a great show and Aviat was happy to participate to share our views on some of the most exciting new topics in mobile networks in the U.S.

Gary Croke
Director, Marketing and Communications
Aviat Networks

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Public Safety Voice Legacy vs. LTE Broadband Future

Aviat-at-IWCE-public-safety-LTE-broadband-microwave-backhaulIWCE 2013 (International Wireless Communications Expo), March 13-14, was a tale of two different but related stories. The first was the continuing enhancement of legacy P25 voice-centric products/features/ applications and the second was discussion of the LTE broadband data-centric network plan/products/ solutions of the future.

P25 continues to be the only source of mission-critical voice, and the consensus is that will not change for maybe 10 more years—or longer. We saw really cool product enhancements from Motorola and Harris. Clearly, there is plenty of investment continuing in P25, and vendors believe they will get a return on that investment. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done on going from analog to digital systems and wideband to narrowband.

In contrast, LTE broadband will probably take another 1.5 years just to get to the stage of RFQs. However, we did see a lot of innovative technology and interoperability demonstrations. Who would have thought that Harris handheld radios would be located in the Alcatel-Lucent booth and Motorola in the Raytheon booth?

There were many talks on FirstNet strategy and planning. Chief Dowd said FirstNet would announce a general manager within a couple weeks…let’s hope it is a public safety professional with many years of experience in setting up mission-critical networks. Of course, the industry pundits were there to discuss their view of this enormous challenge…unfortunately it appears the thinking is still very divergent…which can only mean that someone is going to be disappointed by the decisions FirstNet will make.

Many provider-based discussions were also held. For example, Aviat’s own Gary Croke gave a presentation on the considerations that any organization must make for high-speed backhaul and how microwave fits into those.

Lastly, we heard some excellent talks on engineering this network. Skilled network designers like Bob Shapiro gave us some insight into how the LTE network will look different from P25 networks (e.g., number of basestations, capacity of traffic, complexity of design). Good news is the industry is developing some excellent design tools to aid in designing the network.

The signs are positive for the public safety industry. IWCE show attendance was good, vendors showed up with real innovation and investment in new products, the Public Safety Broadband Network continues to move ahead…cannot wait for APCO in the fall!

Randy Jenkins
Director Business Development
Aviat Networks

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FirstNet Board Named for Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

First Responder Network Authority logo

The FirstNet board, an independent authority within NTIA that will hold the spectrum license for the national public safety broadband network, has been named. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is charged with taking “all actions necessary” to build, deploy and operate this network, in consultation with federal, state, tribal and local public safety entities and other key stakeholders. FirstNet oversees $7 billion in funding toward deployment of this network, as well as $135 million for a new State and Local Implementation Grant Program administered by NTIA to support state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions’ efforts to plan and work with FirstNet to ensure the network meets their wireless public safety communications needs.

This 12-person team is responsible for deciding how to specify the nationwide interoperable broadband network for public safety and how to spend this $7.2 billion set aside by the Obama Administration for that purpose. The board is made up of government officials, telecom industry professionals and most importantly public safety practitioners. The difficult decisions are now on the table for the FirstNet board, and we will be watching closely to see how they address the challenges. Ultimately, our public safety practitioners must have faith in the decisions and the network that will be implemented. Their needs are not always congruent with commercial wireless networks, so some changes to the commercial networks may be needed if they are to be used for public safety applications.

Aviat Networks believes that the best solution would be for FirstNet to empower states/municipalities to make the best decisions for their particular geographies and needs. What works in Alaska is not the same as the best solution for New York City, for example. Specific guidelines for interoperability requirements and use of available funding must be dictated by FirstNet. But specific needs knowledge, existing cross-state relationships and years of public safety experience all live with the states. We should challenge them to use those assets and to achieve the desired result. Key vendors like Harris and Motorola are well positioned to help the states move quickly and cost effectively to achieve interoperable broadband coverage.

At APCO this week, we saw examples of LTE network trials/demonstrations that clearly show us that LTE public safety network technology is ready to go. Data, video and even voice were moved across the entire U.S., allowing a police chief in Massachusetts to coordinate activities with his counterpart in Nevada. Real-time video of a simulated terrorist episode in Tampa could be viewed by federal entities in Washington, D.C. The ability to move and share information allows first responders to react quickly and with conviction to protect Americans.

So what should vendors to the public safety market do? They should be ready to move quickly with innovative solutions that align with the directions of FirstNet and bring high reliability and performance to the network while stripping out as much CAPEX/OPEX as possible.

Working together with our skilled public safety professionals, we can get this done!

Randy Jenkins
Director Business Development
Aviat Networks

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APCO 2012: Broadband for Public Safety in Sight

It is August and Minneapolis, Minn., is readying itself for the annual gathering for the APCO show. However, this year, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) show will be much different as the promise of broadband for public safety is now within sight! But before we start the sprint to the finish line, we still have some hurdles left to overcome:

  • FirstNet board decisions on network requirements and vendor choices for implementation      (that is once a board is in place)
  • States definition of needs requirements including cooperative agreements between states      and local municipalities

We will hear how systems integrators are developing business models that help limit the OPEX costs for the networks and bring the critical technical LTE skills to the party.

With very difficult financial limitations, innovation and teamwork will be required to make this network work. Look for vendors that bring new ideas to the game that help address these monetary challenges. How do we help limit CAPEX and OPEX while still offering the outstanding reliability/performance required of a mission critical network?

Aviat Networks knows backhaul will play a much larger role in the financial measures of the broadband network (perhaps as much as 30 percent of CAPEX)! Our solutions take advantage of existing deployed backhaul radios in public safety networks (more than 18,000 radios deployed in state/local networks today) and those of our competitors (estimated in excess of 30,000 radios). “Reuse—whenever possible” must be part of every conversation.

In addition, Aviat Networks’ ProVision monitoring/management platform and NOC Managed Services allow the state/local entity to much more cost effectively maintain their networks…to mission-critical standards. OPEX savings of more than 25 percent may be achieved by being able to predict problems before they occur and to be able to quickly diagnose and address them when they do occur. IP networks involve more complex failure mechanisms than TDM networks. Aviat Networks’ Advanced NOC Services capability offers the IP insight needed to fully understand loading, demand changes, networking issues quickly and avert bottlenecks before they occur.

If you would like to hear more on any of these topics, I invite you to come and see us at APCO.

Randy Jenkins
Director Business Development
Aviat Networks

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