LTE-based Data Communications Not Accessible for Mission Critical Communications until 2018

It has been announced that LTE-based data communications, despite the on-going development of LTE consumer networks, will not be accessible for mission critical communications until 2018, according to Critical Communications Broadband Group (CCBG).

It is not until 2020 that mission critical users can expect reasonable quality voice services using Long-Term Evolution technology.

Data-only LTE services are commercially operational, but consumer based voice LTE solutions are a long way off yet.

According to Phil Kidner, Chief Executive Officer of the TETRA & Critical Communications Association (TCCA) ‘Achieving industry synergy is crucial to ensure uninterrupted availability of mission-critical communications services. LTE is currently designed for commercial use.  There is no viable replacement on the horizon for the current technologies employed by critical communications users.

To provide a necessary footing for mission-critical communications, four key areas within LTE standards must be addressed, to ensure the moving-forward of the technology towards multimedia communications:

  • Group Communication System Enablers
  • Proximity-based Services
  • Public Safety Network Resiliency
  • Push-To-Talk (PTT)

The acceptance of GSCE and ProSe by 3GPP as WID’s that will be integrated into the planned Release 12 of 3GPP LTE specification in 2014 is notably a major breakthrough by the CCBG.

A weakness lies in the framework of Critical Networks Resilience in LTE design, being no provision for the accommodation of any potential loss of signal between the base station and the core communications network.  The hope is to include a solution in the planned Release 13 of 3GPP LTE in 2016.

Other mission critical data communications suppliers such as ARINC do offer a platform for communication needs suited to the military and government with simultaneous voice and data communications with optional guaranteed bandwidth for those high traffic critical services.

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