Adax, Aricent targeting smaller public-safety LTE networks

As LTE works its way into public-safety communications, the market is attracting a different set of players with platforms that could make LTE deployments affordable for even the smallest jurisdictions.

Cost is a paramount consideration, particularly for smaller public-safety groups whose needs may not be met by traditional equipment suppliers that are focused on landing lucrative LTE contracts with large metropolitan areas, said Drew Sproul, director of marketing at Adax.

Now that public safety is shifting from proprietary solutions provided by companies such as MotorolaSolutions (NYSE:MSI) to standards-based LTE networks, "you have more flexibility on where you acquire your network equipment and more price competition," Sproul told FierceBroadbandWireless.

With the public-safety door opening, Adax and Aricent Group have collaborated on a turnkey "network in a box" for LTE Evolved Packet Core applications. The turnkey relies upon Aricent's EPCLite, "a binary offering for anywhere from dozens of users up to 200,000 users," said Sproul. The companies are touting their offering, first unveiled in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, for niche small- to mid-size subscriber markets such as public safety, rural and enterprise networks.

The network-in-a-box concept includes Aricent's LTE EPC software framework, an integrated offering of Mobility Management Entity (MME), Serving Gateway (SGW), Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW), Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and Policy Control and Resource Function (PCRF) components that can be run in any combination. Adax supplies its ATCA hardware and software for the product, which is optimized for the Adax PacketRunner ATCA blade and PacketAMC boards and comes in a range of two, six and 12-slot ATCA systems.

"If you look at the Tier 1 (vendor) LTE offerings, as one of our prospects put it, ‘The starting figure is $1 million with a box the size of a very large refrigerator,'" said Sproul. "They don't need that."

He said smaller municipalities are looking for solutions that involve a single rack-mount server or a compact ATCA. "We're talking to some people who say they only need to have an average subscriber base of 10 up to 3,000 up to 50,000," Sproul added.

The LTE evolution for public-safety entities will occur over the span of at least a decade as first responders assess LTE's capabilities, plan for evolving from their existing systems to LTE and figure out how to come up with cash to pay for new infrastructure. "It'll take time to implement," said Sproul.

"There's a lot of savings that can be realized through the enhanced functionality of an LTE network. Lives can be saved. Resources can be dispatched more appropriately. That will work its way into the equation," he said.

"The benefits are too great to not make this happen in some way, shape or form over the next 10 or 20 years," Sproul added.

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