U.K. Home Office and public-safety officials researched the Kodiak push-to-talk (PTT) solution from Motorola Solutions for the country’s public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network during a trip to the United States last week. The group is considering moving to the Kodiak technology rather than the previously planned Motorola WAVE 7000.
The Emergency Services Mobile Communications Program (ESMCP) officials traveled with “a group of customer representatives” to Kodiak’s headquarters in Plano, Texas, USA, June 11, said Becca Jones, ESMCP director of customer engagement.
“This was an exploratory visit to hear a little more about Kodiak and see the product in action, and we aren’t in a position to say much more at the moment, as the program is under review,” said an ESMCP spokesman. “However, we will be in a position to say more once the review is complete at the end of July.”
During a February U.K. parliamentary hearing, Joanna Davinson, chief digital, data and technology officer at the Home Office, said the U.K. Home Office report updating the parliamentary committee on the Emergency Services Network (ESN) timelines and budget — originally expected in January — will now be available by the end of July.
The group June 12 traveled to Fairfax County, Virginia, to learn how that county is using the Kodiak product. “They wanted to see how we were using it and get public safety’s input on it,” said Mike Newburn, communications technology manager and senior technical and wireless communications policy expert for Fairfax County. “They asked what our road map is and how we’ve implemented it. They really like the capabilities and feature sets that Kodiak presented to them. They asked similar questions as others have — what does this means to your public-safety radios?”
Jones posted a photo of the group that included Jones; Newburn; Kris Patel from Kodiak; Chief Inspector Jonathan Goosey MSt (Cantab), operational change assurance officer at Operational Communications in Policing (OCiP); John Adams, head of technical assurance for OCiP; Chris Lucas, Ambulance Radio Programme; Keith Williamson, West Midlands Policing Region ESN program director; David Robinson and Simon Hussey from Motorola; and Andy Noy from the ESMCP Programme.
In May 2016, Motorola reported a “significant win” in the United Kingdom to provide interoperability between the nationwide TETRA network and the ESN with Motorola’s WAVE 7000 solution.
Motorola Solutions purchased Kodiak last year. At the time, Jeff Spaeth, Motorola vice president of software and systems enablement, said there are three legs to the PTT market. The first is over-the-top PTT solutions that integrate various networks, and its WAVE products target that segment. The second area is high-performance public-safety LTE and tightly integrated PTT solutions with networks. Spaeth said an example is WAVE 7000. The third market is for carrier-integrated services targeting the commercial and industrial sectors.
If the ESN adopts the Kodiak solution, it will use the same mission-critical PTT (MCPTT) technology as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). AT&T signed a product agreement with Motorola for its Kodiak carrier-integrated PTT product, along with the eventual MCPTT version of the Kodiak service, said Chris Sambar, AT&T FirstNet senior vice president, in March.
“We are in the process of developing that [MCPTT service] in conjunction with them,” Sambar said. AT&T plans to release a request for proposals (RFP) for a second carrier-integrated MCPTT technology later this year.
Southern Linc, a U.S. carrier targeting utilities and public safety, said in April it will use the WAVE 7000 platform for mission-critical PTT (MCPTT) service.
Credit: S Wendelken
Monday, June 18, 2018
The Europe’s nExt generation eMergencY commuNicatiOnS (EMYNOS) project final demonstration took place 31 January in Bucharest, Romania, with the support of Romanian Special Telecommunications Service (STS). After two years of progress, the next-generation emergency communications services was successfully integrated with the legacy emergency system managed by STS.
Next-generation emergency communications components such as rich media, support for persons with disabilities and improved caller location were tested via a variety of uses cases and scenarios including:
• Pure next-generation 1-1-2 (NG 1-1-2) calls with caller location, audio, video, real-time text and sensor data
• Emergency calls from assistive technologies and haptic devices
• Emergency calls over satellite
• NG 1-1-2 calls toward emergency legacy systems
The demonstration involved more than 35 external participants from public authorities, actors of emergency communications services and representatives of the National Deaf Association from Romania.
The results generated as part of EMYNOS are expected to become a starting point for further activities in the context of research, development, integration and testing of next-generation emergency services. In addition, the outcomes of the project should become an incentive to regulators and users to respectively enforce the necessary policies and speed up deployment of such services.
Church spires could be used to boost mobile and broadband signal in rural areas, the Culture Secretary has announced.
Church spires could be used to boost mobile and broadband coverage in rural areas under an agreement between the UK government and the Church of England. The government has committed to achieving good-quality mobile connectivity across the UK by 2022. While the agreement encourages churches to sign up, they will still have to negotiate the usual planning process. Digital analysts welcomed the development but said "the devil would be in the detail". "Getting access to suitable sites, particularly in rural areas, has been a real challenge for mobile operators, so any initiative aimed at improving this will be welcomed by the industry," said Matthew Howett, principal analyst at research firm Assembly.
Guidance set out by the Church and Historic England will ensure that any telecoms infrastructure does not impact on the character and architectural or historic significance of churches, the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.
Around two-thirds of Anglican churches and parishes in England are in rural areas, often in the heart of their communities, and so are well-placed to tackle problems of poor connectivity. They will be used alongside other church properties and farm buildings to host telecoms infrastructure. Matt Hancock said: "Churches are central features and valued assets for local communities up and down the country. "This agreement with the Church of England will mean that even a 15th century building can help make Britain fit for the future, improving people's lives by boosting connectivity in some of our hardest-to-reach areas.
Local agreements "What's not clear, though, is what the commercial relationship looks like. There have been many stories of rural landowners effectively holding operators to ransom for access to some sites, which has slowed down rollout and added considerably to the cost." The government said commercial arrangements would be made locally between dioceses or parishes and mobile operators and broadband providers but gave no further details. Two-thirds of Anglican churches are in rural areas and their location at the heart of their communities means they are well-placed to help deliver improved mobile connectivity, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said. Secretary of State Matt Hancock said: "Churches are central features and valued assets for local communities up and down the country. "This agreement with the Church of England will mean that even a 15th Century building can help make Britain fit for the future, improving people's lives by boosting connectivity in some of our hardest-to-reach areas."
'Deplorable' coverage There are already about 120 examples of broadband and mobile services being delivered from parish churches across the country, according to the Church of England.
These take a variety of forms - from wireless transmitters in spires to aerials, satellite dishes and cables. The equipment is used to boost both voice and data coverage.
The Dioceses of Norwich and Chelmsford have been signed up to programmes for at least five years.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, said: "Encouraging churches to improve connectivity will help tackle two of the biggest issues rural areas face - isolation and sustainability. "Our work has significantly improved rural access to high-speed broadband. We know that rural churches in particular have always served as a hub for their communities."
The Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, said using parish churches "creatively" would enhance their value to communities.
According to Ofcom's figures, published in December, 4G coverage - where a signal is available from all four mobile operators - is currently available across 43% of the UK. For calls and text messaging, 70% of the UK can receive a signal from all four operators. At the time, Lord Adonis, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, urged Ofcom to improve mobile service, which he described as "deplorable".
Hamish Macleod, director of Mobile UK, said: "Mobile UK welcomes this announcement from Government and the Church of England, which emphasises the benefits of mobile connectivity to local communities. "Where there is a need, a suitable building is available and appropriate terms can be agreed, the mobile operators will continue to extend their use of churches to increase mobile coverage and capacity, while respecting the church environment."
Credit: BBC, Standard.
Ofcom has announced plans to go ahead with auctioning spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands despite pending legal action by Three UK.
While the 2.3GHz frequencies can be deployed immediately (after they have been awarded to operators) to improve mobile services for customers, 3.4GHz spectrum can be used for future 5G networks.
Ofcom had planned to hold the auction in autumn 2017 but was delayed by litigation brought by Three and BT/EE.
Earlier last year in July, the regulator said it was going to impose caps on the amount of new spectrum that any single operator could acquire. It proposed a cap of 255MHz on the amount of mobile spectrum that was immediately usable after the auction, and then a total cap of 340MHz per operator on overall mobile spectrum following the sale. This latter cap will mean no company can possess more than 37 per cent of all mobile spectrum.
The operator that will be most affected by this is BT/EE which already holds about 42 per cent of all available spectrum. It argued that the cap limits the extent to which it can expand in the future by seeking to acquire extra frequencies. At the same time, it said rivals will have the chance to win a greater share of the airwaves.
However, Three believes the auction rules are too generous to BT/EE. In its submission to Ofcom during the consultation stage, it argued that BT/EE should not be allowed to hold more than 30 per cent of the total spectrum. While Three was prepared to accept the ultimate figure of 37 per cent, it claimed that the regulator gave BT/EE “considerable leeway and tolerance” to possess more than 37 per cent of the spectrum before it finally had to succumb to the cap.
Following an expedited court process recognising the strong public interest in proceeding with the auction, the High Court upheld Ofcom’s decision and dismissed both claims on 20 December 2017. BT/EE is reportedly no longer pursuing its case, but Three has now applied to the Court of Appeal which has expedited matters and will hear the case on 13 and 14 February 2018.
In a press statement released on 17 January, Ofcom said: “The litigation by Three is continuing to delay access to the spectrum and the benefits to consumers and businesses that can flow from it. We are keen to ensure that we can move as quickly as possible to hold the auction once the judgment of the Court of Appeal has been given.”
As a result, the regulator has decided to go ahead with the auction. It now plans to publish the regulations and guidance for potential bidders on how to take part in the sale on 31 January.
But the formal process of qualifying bidders won’t begin until after the Court of Appeal’s decision is announced, and all parties know whether Ofcom’s decision to impose an overall spectrum cap at 340MHz is upheld.
Credit: Ofcom, Networking+
The Home Office provided a positive update to the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), addressing recommendations made in a report earlier this year.
Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary for the Home Office, said the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) remains committed to providing emergency services users the time they need to transition safely to the Emergency Service Network (ESN) and are working on the assumption of a continuing need for a 27-month user transition period once mobilization has been completed.
“The delay in the program has given more time to prepare for transition, and this could ultimately mean the total length of time required for transition could reduce,” said the letter to Meg Hillier with PAC. “However work continues on an integrated program plan to cover both the mobilization and transition periods.”
Rutnam said the Home Office has been engaging with the user community to get its feedback on the updated program plan, transition timelines and regional transition running order. ESMCP recently deployed a team of local implementation leads, funded from departmental budgets, to help users develop their own individual transition readiness requirements and plans.
The current transition timetable includes a contingency of two months within each of the three emergency service regions' budgeted 12-month transition period. Following completion of the current review of transition timing undertaken in conjunction with three emergency service user representatives, the program will re-assess the level of contingency necessary to support the revised plan.
“I would like to reassure you again that there will be no risks taken with public safety, and there will be no gap in the emergency services' communications provision,” Rutnam said.
In August 2016, the Home Office and the other emergency services agreed to a change control note to the Airwave emergency services contracts that makes a provision for extension of the contracts beyond the national shutdown target date of 31 December, 2019.
“Furthermore, the program is separately forecasting what further Airwave extensions might be required to provide for an extended period of transition,” the letter said. “The cost of these extensions will be included within the full business case forecast that guides the departments in forming their future budgets for the program.”
Rutnam said a final transition plan will be in place by December, and the Home Office will provide another update in November.
The full letter is here.
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