In public safety, time saved can mean lives saved. Today, it’s more important than ever to have the ability to access critical information as easily in the field as in the office and make sure that information is disseminated to the right people immediately. For public safety agencies across the United States, an interoperable high-speed wireless network can’t come soon enough. First responders want and need to be able to download and upload large data files from the field and communicate on a network without delays and intermittent coverage. Ultra-fast fourth-generation (4G) wireless technology has been building momentum since 2010.
In telecommunications, 4G is the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor to the 3G and 2G families of standards. In 2009, the ITU-R organization specified the IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements for 4G standards, setting peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 Mbit/s for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 Gbit/s for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users). One of the key technologies for 4G and beyond is called Open Wireless Architecture (OWA), supporting multiple wireless air interfaces in an open architecture platform. A 4G system is expected to provide a comprehensive and secure all-IP based mobile broadband solution to laptop computer wireless modems, smartphones and other mobile devices. Facilities such as ultra-broadband Internet access, IP telephony, gaming services, and streamed multimedia may be provided to users.
What will 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) user devices look like? Other than slightly larger, richer displays, they won’t look much different from 3G devices. For device vendors and their component suppliers, the big differences are inside. LTE is a major market opportunity by any measure, because most GSM and many CDMA operators are planning to take that migration path to 4G. The GSM family of technologies has roughly 90 percent of the global wireless market, and with the addition of the defecting CDMA operators, LTE will eventually become as dominant as GSM. And with the likelihood of some WiMax operators defecting to LTE, and the market becomes even larger. AT&T
According to Jodi Chapin, AT&T Director - State & Local Government Marketing, AT&T is committed to making the world safer and enhancing the effectiveness of public safety agencies by delivering a great mobile broadband experience now and in the future. Currently AT&T is rapidly developing new 4G solutions to serve the greater good by providing public safety solutions that help meet the challenges of protecting people, data and infrastructure from damage, crime and disasters while reducing costs and improving productivity.
AT&T has rolled out 4G LTE speeds and services in 26 markets—from New York City, to San Juan (Puerto Rico) to Los Angeles. As the only carrier providing 4G using both LTE and HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul technologies, AT&T provides its customers a fast and consistent 4G experience, with access to 4G speeds in and out of 4G LTE areas. Customers of AT&T can choose from a growing lineup of 4G LTE-compatible devices, including HTC Vivid, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and LG Nitro HD smartphones and HTC Jetstream and Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablets as well as AT&T USBConnect Momentum and AT&T Mobile Hotspot Elevate.
With government officials tracking and researching 4G LTE networks, the use of these new airwaves is still in its beginning stages. “Currently AT&T is paying close attention to the market regarding system engineering of integrated 4G communication networks and the adoption of LTE as a standard in the public safety industry,” Chapin said. As discussions and standards begin to develop into more concrete plans, AT&T is working with its public safety customers to understand their specific needs and requirements related to devices and solutions.
Although the 4G LTE infrastructure is still in its first stages for state and local public safety use and applications, AT&T is developing cutting edge solutions. For example, AT&T Labs is developing an interconnected solution that could potentially help identify and connect people during times of natural disasters. The AT&T location-based M2Mcasting application can be used to help map and link smart devices. It could be the next solution to help track firemen, search a damaged building, or locate family members after an earthquake.
Using the location based application, a police commander could monitor the positions of his entire police force, tracking all or a selected number of field personnel geographically—sending messages to specific areas, such as connecting with trapped officers in the southeast corner of a building. AT&T’s implementation of this infrastructure can potentially help extend the reach of 4G networks by using a technology known as ad hoc networking. “While the application is early in its testing stages, solutions with location-based M2Mcasting using smart devices on the AT&T 4G network have the potential to become lifelines during times of disaster,” Chapin elaborated.
With solutions like this geo-targeting application and others similar to it, first responders would not only have faster access to critical information, but also expanded video and data capabilities. With future public safety LTE solutions, emergency dispatchers could include a live video feed from traffic cameras to help first responders assess the situation en route and could enable mounted police officers to quickly retrieve a suspect’s information from a national database, using a tablet.
AT&T continues to work closely with device manufacturers for development of 4G devices that can address the challenging field conditions faced by public safety. As 4G LTE standards and devices progress, AT&T is moving forward with fast, highly secure, highly reliable connectivity and solutions for public safety agencies so they can concentrate on what matters most: citizen safety.
Network Vision, originally announced in December 2010, is Sprint’s plan to consolidate multiple network technologies into one seamless network with the goal of increasing efficiency and enhancing network coverage, call quality and data speeds for customers across the United States.
On Oct. 7, 2011, Sprint announced its plans to accelerate deployment of Network Vision and its plans to roll out 4G LTE on its 1.9 GHz licensed spectrum. Sprint expects the rapid deployment to reach 250 million people by the end of 2013.
“Our progress deploying Network Vision enables Sprint to extend and evolve our 4G leadership and to improve the experience for 3G customers. Our next-generation network and cutting-edge device lineup, combined with the industry’s best pricing plans, give Sprint customers the best experience in wireless,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. Sprint’s 4G devices include: Samsung Conquer™ 4G, Motorola Photon™, HTC EVO™ 3D, Nexus S™ from Google, Samsung Epic™.
In October 2011, Sprint launched the second of three new Sprint Direct Connect devices that will be available this year. Three years ago, Sprint launched a similar product that was called Nextel Direct Connect on Sprint. This time around the devices are being marketed as Sprint Direct Connect. This new launch involved a major upgrade to the original back end system that runs the service. There are all new servers geographically dispersed that run the system as well as new software and new clients that run on the handsets. These phones run on the CDMA EVDO Rev. A network and allow simultaneous P-T-T and data. There are several new features built into the phones such as the ability to Direct Connect up to 200 handsets in a TeamDC call as well as availability notification, which alerts you when a user is available to DC if you try them when that user is already on a DC call.
The Motorola Admiral is the first Android with Sprint Direct Connect and it’s available now. Features include: Sprint Direct Connect; 3.1-inch Touchscreen + QWERTY Keypad; Android Gingerbread 2.3.5; Powerful 1.2GHz processor makes multitasking and web browsing a breeze; Designed to meet Mil-Spec 810G for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, pressure and solar radiation; Corning® Gorilla® Glass touchscreen display provides resistance to scratches and greater damage resistance from impact.
In addition, Motorola Media Link (MML) lets you quickly download music, photos and videos from your PC or Mac® directly to and from your phone. Data encryption (256-bit AES) of the device and SD card can be enabled manually, via settings or enforced via EAS policy. A loud, front facing speaker is designed for Direct Connect calls.
Other highlights include: 5.0 Megapixel Camera with flash and camcorder; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; Mobile Hotspot Capability; A 32GB expandable memory card slot; 1860 mAh battery.
Sprint’s Direct Connect® - Instant service allows one-to-one push-to-talk calling nationwide, with any other Direct Connect subscriber. Direct Connect is the core push-to-talk feature and is designed for interoperability across Sprint and Nextel network platforms.
Guaranteed Talk Permit: The assurance that when you hear the push-to-talk “chirp” that your call was successfully transmitted. Call
Alert with Text: Send an audio alert with an optional text message to let another Direct Connect subscriber know you are trying to reach them and why.
Group Connect®: Communicate with up to 20 other Sprint Direct Connect subscribers all at once - nationwide, at the push of one button.
TeamDCSM: Communicate with up to 200 other Sprint Direct Connect subscribers at the same time nationwide1.
NextMail®: Send a recorded message to any email worldwide or mobile handset via text message by using the Direct Connect button.
Availability Notification: Request the availability status of another push-to-talk member and, if they are busy, request a notification when they are free.
The Sprint Direct Connect Portfolio expanded with the addition of Kyocera DuraCore. DuraCore is built tough and leverages the muscle of Sprint Direct Connect®, so single and group users can problem-solve with instant communication. Sprint Direct Connect is a portfolio of push-to-talk services that allow individuals and groups to get more done – quickly and easily with just the push of a button. Designed for the toughest conditions, Kyocera DuraCore is designed to meet Military Standard 810G for dust, shock and vibration. With the non-slip Dura-Grip® surface, Kyocera DuraCore is ideal for construction sites, security beats and delivery routes — anywhere first responders need to be.
Key features include: Military Standard 810G compliance for dust, shock and vibration; Encased in rubber, non-slip Dura-Grip® material for sure hold and extra durability; Robust, bi-directional speakerphone; Non-camera phone for jobs where cameras are prohibited; Bluetooth® (2.0 + EDR) wireless technology; 2.5mm headphone jack (supports PTT headsets); Large-font menu option; GPS navigation enabled; Sprint Family Locator enabled; Supports SMS and MMS messaging and third-party data applications.
Verizon plans to launch a massive long term evolution (LTE) network, reaching 110 million Americans in 38 major markets across the country. Deployed over Verizon’s nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, the network will extend applications with data downlink rates of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and uplink rates of 2 to 5 Mbps. To start, Verizon’s network will be available in cities such as Seattle, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. In addition, 60 commercial airports will also have LTE coverage. Some public safety entities, such as the Baltimore (Md.) Police Department in a pilot with Sprint in January 2009, have already tested 4G technology.
“It’s not about just getting faster e-mail and making faster voice calls,” said Bernie McMonagle, Verizon’s associate director of federal government data solutions. “It’s about enabling applications that you couldn’t run before through a wireless device.” Public safety personnel believe such a network gives first responders access to advanced communications and massive data files (video, mapping and GPS applications, etc.).
From public safety and emergency management to law enforcement, education and health care, LTE technology will enhance video sharing, surveillance, conferencing and streaming, and provide greater coverage and better penetration of buildings. “The immediacy of that information is really where the power of these new network solutions will be,” McMonagle said.
Verizon Wireless has the real-world experience first responders need to help accomplish their mission. Across the country, public safety professionals from law enforcement to fire fighters, EMTs to paramedics team with Verizon to help them solve challenges with connectivity and beyond.
With America’s largest, most reliable 3G network and America’s largest Push to Talk coverage area, Verizon offers great data service, broadband speeds and applications for handsets that allow public safety personnel to be as productive and connected on the beat, in an investigation, or in the courthouse as they are in their precinct house.
Verizon provides solutions to drive immediate access to important data resources like NCIC, CCIC queries, CAD, RMS, DMV, street checks, field reporting and RMS to those in the field where information at the right time in the right place can make all the difference.
With Verizon Wireless, first responders have 24/7 access to both national and regional support teams dedicated, and specifically trained and retrained, to handle the issues they face. So front line responders can stay focused on the issues at hand, rather than the mechanics of managing their communications.
Verizon’s Crisis Response Teams (VCRT) are dedicated national teams prepared for quick response in a crisis wherever it is. They also help agencies plan their preparedness efforts, with options like Ready Kits that can be pre-deployed on field emergency trailers and in evacuation shelters for immediate service in crisis situations.
Beyond wireless and data, Verizon Wireless combines advanced network technologies with device and application partners proven in the field and trusted by public safety officials across the country. The company has helped define and implement local, regional and national solutions for issues like system integration, transparency, interoperability, continuity of operations and constituent self-service.
Law enforcement professionals can look to Verizon for network coverage for dedicated devices such as General Dynamic’s and L3’s Secure Mobile Environment Personal Electronic Device (SME PED), PDAs built for the National Security Agency; support of Common Access Card (CAC) Readers that ensure end-to-end security for data; general productivity platforms that enable virtual and ad hoc teaming via remote access to documents, e-mail, text, and shared calendars plus field force management tools that help public safety departments realize newfound savings by optimizing the location and schedules of the workforce and fleets.
The bottom line on the front line: Citizen expectations for public safety and civil preparedness are rising. At the same time, agencies face budget pressures to do more with less. Verizon is committed to helping public safety agencies proactively manage services and devices in ways that conserve resources and help them accomplish their missions.
Photos courtesy of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless.