Currently, two major groups of standards - P25 and TETRA - define specifics of Public Safety Communications (PSC). P25 and TETRA LMR standards are being in the development for at least last twenty-two years and supported and continue to support voice and relatively low-speed data (up to ~0.5 Mb/s) that first responders' communications required. Both groups had developmental and deployment issues (P25 LMRs were affected more) that had been mostly addressed by the PSC community - though several issues are still pending; their base stations and terminals are more expensive than commercial counterparts.
In the last several years, commercial cellular communications made a significant progress in enhancing performance and economic characteristics, such as the speed of transmission, reliability, ability to communicate with fast moving objects, the cost factor and other. 4G technologies (such as LTE and WiMAX) proved their attractiveness; and the industry, especially R&D, is looking for introduction 5G technologies in 4-6 years.
The PSC community, which is looking to enhance its networks to support video and massive data files with high-speed transmission as well as to improve other transmission characteristics, was investigating applicability of LTE (which is one of the most successful mobile communications standards) for PSC; and this effort led to decision to adapt this commercial cellular technology for critical communications and to build PSC networks utilizing LTE. One such a network - the FirstNet - is envisioned as the U.S. nationwide first responders (and maybe other users that are responsible for the country's infrastructure) system, the only in the country. The FirstNet development is in the evolving stage; and its implementation will start, probably, in 1-2 years. Other countries are also experimenting with LTE network structures built specifically for PSC.
The report provides detailed technical and marketing analysis of P25/TETRA LMR together with the survey of industries. Then, it is concentrating on the specifics of LTE as a commercial technology that has to be adapted to carry PSC tasks; LTE technological and marketing specifics as well as the industry as they related to the report's subject are analyzed. The 3GPP work in this area is detailed. The report shows that the industry is already ready for the development LTE-PSC equipment, though the fully blown PSC standards are expected from the 3GPP only in 2019-2020. The report also provides a detailed analysis of the current status of the FirstNet - the nationwide U.S. LTE-based PSC network. The U.S. is not alone in adapting LTE for PSC - England and other countries are also constructing LTE-PSC networks.
The report concludes that LMR and LTE-based PSC infrastructures will co-exist in the foreseeable future, complementing each other to provide high-speed data communications (up to 100s Mb/s) with narrowband voice, making communications more reliable and cost-effective and widening the spectrum of PSC applications.
The report is written for a wide audience of technical and managerial staff involved in the design and implementation of PSC networks as well as for users such networks.