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GCN : November 2012
GCN NOVEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM 27 cations and Information Administration has established the First Responder Net- work Authority (FirstNet) to hold the spec- trum license and oversee its deployment. But to date, the National Public Safety Broadband Network has been used only in test-bed environments such as that oper- ated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo. "This is the first time that such a mis- sion has been allowed" in an operational environment, said Kevin McFadden of Cisco's National Security and Defense team. VIDEO-ON-DEMAND AND GPS The network gave police the ability to de- liver video from the streets to command centers and from one officer to another, as well as to track the location of individual officers using Global Positioning system- enabled real-time situational awareness in an environment in which large crowds and protesters were on the move in neigh- boring cities. It also reduced traffic on the departments' land mobile radio systems, the traditional primary communications channel for police. The National Public Safety Broad- band Network would be the first major advance in police communications since the introduction of mobile radios more than 80 years ago. The vehicle-based and hand-held radio has been effective for voice, but usually is not interoperable across departments and has not kept up with advances in communications. It has remained the mission critical channel, however, because frequencies can be dedicated to law enforcement and can provide needed privacy and availability. The new national network, however, would provide the same dedicated in- frastructure while also taking advantage of current digital and IP technologies. It would be based on high-speed LTE, tech- nology that already supports advanced commercial cellular networks. The RF bandwidth has been set aside for the net- work and $7 billion has been appropri- ated for deployment under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. An additional $135 million is available for state and local government implementation grants. HOW IT WORKED The GOP convention marked the first deployment of such a 700 MHz LTE network. Cisco provided the LTE packet core, Unified Communications applica- tions, IP routing and switching, and cy- ber security. Nokia Siemens Networks provided the LTE radio access network, and Reality Mobile provided the Re- alityVision mobile video and visual col- laboration platform. Amdocs provided subscriber and device data management, and policy control with the Amdocs Home Subscriber Server and Amdocs Policy Controller solutions. Raytheon provided project management and sys- tems engineering support. LTE transceivers with ranges of three to five miles were mounted on the St. Petersburg Police Department tower on the south side of Tampa Bay and on a portable tower in Tampa to the north. Because the iPhones could not connect directly with the 700 MHz system, offi- cers used pocket-size MiFi wireless rout- ers from IPWireless to create a gateway for the phones to the cellular network. McFadden said the use of MiFi was a stopgap measure that would not be nec- essary when commercial phones can be equipped to connect directly with police networks. In addition to LTE communications, a push-to-talk feature on the phones could link them with the police radio systems. NETWORK TRIAL UPSIDES The network not only expanded commu- nications options, it allowed plainclothes police to operate less conspicuously in crowds, police Sgt. Moushon said. They were able to blend into the crowd where everyone else was using iPhones and Androids to talk, text and shoot video. Otherwise officers would have to use ear- pieces and police radios and "they quickly A National Public Safety Broad- band Network has been in the works for several years now. Funds for its development and implementation have been appropriated and testbeds have been established, but the details of the network have not been worked out. The consensus of the public safety community, how- ever, is that it should be based on the emerging Long Term Evolu- tion (LTE) standard for advanced cellular communications. The ability to combine o - the-shelf equipment with high speeds for voice, video and data that can be operated on a segregated network and that will continue to evolve functionally has made LTE a practical choice for a nationwide public safety system. Another primary reason for choosing LTE is that the technol- ogy is being widely adopted by commercial carriers, which means that although a public safety network itself is likely to be segregated from public networks, it would be able to use interoper- able o -the-shelf technology. LTE operates in a range of radio frequencies, including the 700 MHz band, so it will work in the D Block in that band that has been set aside by the Federal Communications Commission for a public safety network. LTE standards are being developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a consor- tium of six telecommunications standards organizations that has released multiple iterations of specifications. It is called a Fourth Generation wireless service, but as currently used the 4G label is more of a marketing term than a technical one. Current implemen- tations of LTE do not meet Inter- national Telecommunications Union technical requirements for 4G wireless communications. But the ITU recognizes LTE Advanced standard, finalized by 3GPP as True 4G. Services based on the LTE Advanced standard are expected to begin in 2013. --- William Jackson The case for LTE in public safety