Nokia, Harris aim to grab piece of FirstNet pie via rapidly deployable LTE

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Harris want the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) to think of them when it goes on the hunt for rapidly deployable LTE solutions for disaster areas, rural emergency situation and extended network coverage during special public events.

Nokia rapidly deployable LTE

The system can be used to deliver LTE coverage and capacity in one hour or less.

At this week's 2014 APCO International trade show in New Orleans, the partners are introducing a field-transportable eNodeB system they say can be used to deliver LTE coverage and capacity in one hour or less. Installed in a rugged enclosure for off-road operations, the system can be powered off grid by fuel cells and includes several backhaul solutions, including Wi-Fi, microwave and/or satellite. Further, the solution can also be equipped with an optional core network and application server to provide local connectivity in case of backhaul failure.

LTE equipment contracts have been awarded by Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funds recipients that have agreed to lease 700 MHz spectrum from FirstNet (and also Harris County, Texas, which was not a BTOP recipient and is using FirstNet's 700 MHz spectrum, though a lease agreement has not been formally announced).

However, an avalanche of nationwide contracts remains far off as FirstNet has said a comprehensive request for proposals (RFP) for the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) is not slated to go out until early 2015. Nonetheless, industry participants are busy jockeying for attention and trying to attract public-safety's interest in their LTE wares.

"We just want a fair chance to compete," said Mark Combs, account director with Nokia Networks North America government and public-safety organization. "There really is no movement yet, but Nokia has stayed the course, and in fact we have expanded our team."

Combs said Nokia's message for the APCO show this week is that the company and Harris can help public safety get critical communications "when and where you need it," with a particular focus on network restoration, network extension and remote incident response.

Lots of other vendors are engaged in creating rapidly deployable LTE solutions. "What differentiates us is the fact that we're taking a holistic approach," Combs said, noting, for example, that the Nokia/Harris trailer can be easily customized depending upon use case.

"Our eNodeB is very versatile. It's the commercial variant. It's the one we've tested at PSCR (Public Safety Communications Research). It's the one we sell to T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), Sprint (NYSE: S) and all around the world," he added. Combs noted Nokia's eNodeB also is highly integrated with DragonWave backhaul.

"By leveraging our Flexi Multiradio Base Station family and Harris' BeOn  group communications suite, we are providing first responders a best-in-class commercial solution that ensures delivery of real-time data and video when most needed," said Bob Fennelly, head of government and public safety for Nokia Networks.

Meanwhile, in other Nokia Networks news, the company recently announced it is buying part of the wireless networks business of Panasonic System Networks. The agreement covers Panasonic's LTE/3G wireless base station system business for mobile operators and related wireless equipment system business.

The parties plan to conclude the agreement by the end of September 2014, with the expected closure scheduled for Jan. 1, 2015.

For more:
- see this Nokia release and this release

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