Today, Public Safety networks need to support a growing range of customers, applications, and services. Along with the increasing amount of mission-critical traffic to support public health and emergency responses, most agencies are also supporting traffic involving other agencies, consolidating inter-, intra-, and adjacent agency traffic over a common infrastructure.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 allocates $350 billion to help states, counties, cities, and tribal governments improve their capabilities, infrastructure, and services to better respond to and manage the pandemic. This represents a unique opportunity not only to improve strained backhaul networks for public safety agencies but also to support the advent of 5G and a raft of new public safety applications.
Unfortunately, throughout much of the western half of the USA, wildfires have become all too common. Moreover, with the recent fires in California this month, things seem to be getting worse. Wildfires and other natural disasters can have significant impacts to communications systems affecting not only personal cellular communications but also first responder and other mission-critical communications. Fire, police, emergency workers and other first responders need communications during natural disasters more than ever and this is precisely the time when thing just need to work.
Aviat: The American Microwave Company and The Trusted Choice for State-Wide Microwave Networks
Aviat is the #1 provider of microwave and microwave routing systems to state/local government networks nationwide with 25 of 50 state-wide networks running Aviat equipment.
This large western US state had a longtime relationship with a microwave radio vendor and would have continued buying from them if their radios and support evolved with the State’s needs. However, over time its needs changed and it had to have more capabilities from its communications network. But it did not want to unnecessarily build new sites and erect costly new towers.
U.S. based state and local government backhaul buyers face a dilemma. Their microwave networks require continuous upgrades—now with the expectation that they become broadband capable—but their funding apparatus remains stagnant or even atrophies under fiscal pressures from citizens and policymakers. How can they obtain the next generation of wireless backhaul equipment vital to public safety and other purposes while doing so on a reality-based budget? The answer lies partly in an ongoing program that Aviat Networks can offer its government customers.
Whether the local police department responding to a burglary call or firefighters putting out a blaze in the historic district, first responders across America rely on mission-critical communications infrastructure to provide timely, reliable and secure voice, video and data services to do the job.
In our data-infused, mobile and Internet-connected world, public safety agencies have come to realize that upgrading infrastructure to IP/MPLS technology is the best way to lower costs and provide rich services in a scalable way, while enabling effective communication with peer local, state and federal organizations. Access to high volumes of data and the ability to share it with key stakeholders allows public safety professionals to make rapid decisions and speed up actions.
IP/MPLS and Microwave: Better Together
At Aviat Networks, we have blazed a path to IP in privately operated networks with our hybrid IP/TDM microwave radios, which efficiently converge packet-based traffic with legacy TDM. This solution gives public safety network operators a concurrence of technology while migration decisions and investments are made.
Recently, Aviat introduced the term “microwave routing” with the launch of its CTR platform. At its core, microwave routing is about integrating IP/MPLS capability into the microwave layer to increase transport intelligence while decreasing cost and complexity. As part of its portfolio, Aviat features the highly resilient CTR 8611 microwave router, which has been designed to meet the needs of public safety agencies today and tomorrow—addressing a future that is sure to include LTE/LTE-Advanced technology and a vast new buildout of advanced networking infrastructure ushered in by the FirstNet initiative.
IP/MPLS in Action
One example of IP/MPLS in public safety networks can be found in the Northeastern United States, where a major statewide public safety agency recently adopted IP/MPLS functionality in its backhaul. This deployment is based on the CTR 8611 and ProVision network management system (NMS). ProVision, with its new INM package, provides a smarter end-to-end, point-and-click IP/MPLS service management solution.
Armed with these tools, this public safety agency turned up a complete IP/MPLS solution for its mission-critical networks, which includes microwave radios, microwave routers and network management. Aviat supports the agency with turnkey services to simplify the network design, install and commission equipment and provide post-deployment support.
IP/MPLS for Everyone
Since 1999, IP/MPLS has been deployed in the mainstream of networking. Until now, its implementation has largely been the domain of wireline telephone companies and more recently mobile operators. However, we now see private network operators adopt IP/MPLS technology because of its superiority and economic benefits. Although IP/MPLS is not something that is perceptible by the ordinary citizen, its positive impact on our daily lives is significant. We Heart IP/MPLS!
North America Marketing
As we have seen recently, microwave radio continues to find new and niche applications beyond the archetypical mobile operator and public safety markets. Long time Aviat partner/customer Vertel has been working on microwave broadband in the Australian healthcare sector for many years. And with the recent emphasis placed on servicing the healthcare sector by the rollout of the National Broadband Network across Australia—as NBN lumbers along toward a 2019 completion date—Vertel has been able to re-energize this niche application in microwave radio for its support of telemedicine and telehealth, as outlined recently in Pulse + IT Magazine.
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.
Director, Marketing and Communications
IWCE 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!
Director Business Development
Public safety agencies will soon experience a dramatic improvement in communications capabilities enabled by advances in technology. New broadband multimedia applications will give first responders and commanders alike far better situational awareness, thereby improving both the effectiveness and safety of all personnel charged with protecting the public.
The specific technology, now mandated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for all new emergency communications networks, is Long Term Evolution, or LTE—a fourth-generation (4G) broadband solution. The FCC has also allocated licensed spectrum to ensure the best possible performance in these new networks. These FCC rulings support the goal of achieving an interoperable nationwide network for public safety agencies.
The FCC chose LTE based on its proven ability to support voice, video and data communications at remarkably high data rates that were previously only possible with wired links. Although there will be some differences in a nationwide public safety network involving capacity and coexistence with Land-Mobile Radio communications, lessons learned from LTE’s deployment in large-scale commercial mobile operator networks will help ensure agencies are able to achieve the FCC’s goal cost-effectively.