The forthcoming switch of emergency service communications to LTE (Long Term Evolution) offers an opportunity to improve incident response times and ultimately save lives. However, a high quality service is vital in the public safety industry in order to ensure continuous communication and access to mission-critical functionality.

Communication devices will be required to work seamlessly from the most densely populated inner cities to the rural reaches of backcountry North America. Mobile device manufacturers and public sector officials are facing remarkably complex requirements for devices operating across a network of this magnitude.

The U.S. government has licensed the 700-megahertz frequency range as the access network for LTE. The new nationwide LTE network dedicated to public safety will occupy Band 14 within this range. The duplex configuration of LTE Band 14 is unconventional in that it is reversed from the standard, having the uplink higher in frequency than the downlink.

By mandate, the public safety 700-megahertz LTE infrastructure and devices will need to be tested and certified by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an organization that sets standards for LTE equipment. The first Critical Communications LTE-specific features are currently in the process of being standardized by 3GPP.

The PTCRB, established in 1997, is a certification forum driven by North American cellular operators. Obtaining PTCRB Certification on a mobile device ensures compliance with 3GPP network standards within the PTCRB Operators' networks. Consequently, all wireless devices and other equipment will not be allowed to operate on Band 14 without PTCRB certification.

About the author: Paul Beaver is products director at Anite. The company is a long-standing member of the PTCRB. It offers a portfolio of products for testing this new range of critical communications devices to ensure first responders are able to share data quickly and reliably over the new network. Anite offers a range of IT solutions to the wireless and travel sectors across the globe. The firm is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is based in Berkshire in the UK. Anite develops and implements software, and it provides consultancy, systems integration and managed services.

Editor’s note: Readers may want to visit Penton’s IWCE and IWCE’s Urgent Communications sites to keep current on telecommunications technology for first responders.The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) takes place March 24-28, 2014 in Las Vegas.

In the video, Paul Beaver talks about industry trends across the network and device ecosystem that are being tested and developed, including LTE-A features and exploration of 5G.

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