Cisco partners with Parallel Wireless on DIY kit for Band 14

Cisco is partnering with Parallel Wireless on a deploy-it-yourself kit to help mission-critical public safety agencies deploy Band 14 tactical operations.

Parallel says its box can go into any police cruiser to provide instant LTE coverage.

Specifically, Cisco is providing the virtualized Enhanced Packet Core (vEPC) and Cisco Instant Connect Software and Parallel Wireless is supplying its virtualized RAN solution for an LTE "Band-14-in-a-Box" product that public safety partners can install themselves.

According to Dan O'Malley, senior product manager in Cisco's Internet of Things Group, the companies are seeing demand from public safety and mission critical users for a "solution as a whole" rather than developing products that address the entire FirstNet system. The LTE solution kits can be used for temporary coverage, indoor coverage or during disasters to help fill in tactical FirstNet coverage, he said in a blog post. The solution is being demonstrated at Cisco's booth during this week's IWCE 2016 in Las Vegas.

Parallel Wireless, which showed off its multi-node base stations during Super Bowl 50, says the ultra-compact, lightweight LTE network is the industry's first ready-in-minutes plug-'n'-play 3GPP-compliant solution capable of delivering mission-critical voice and data. The base station takes any backhaul -- carrier LTE, Ethernet, fiber and also can connect to other boxes via wireless mesh. The unit can be orchestrated via the cloud-based orchestrator or a command vehicle on a scene of an accident can have the unit with another of the same size that will have orchestration software + EPC loaded as well, so it will create an ad hoc network with cars coming and going.

The system includes ultra-rugged smartphones from Sonim Technologies, LMR to LTE interoperability from Mutualink and a compact LTE to Wi-Fi router from BEC Technologies that connects to Parallel's base stations and provides Wi-Fi hotspot access for public safety personnel. It also includes a disaster-proven Home Subscriber Server (HSS) Athonet to support mobility management, call and session setup, user authentication and access authorization.

"Thanks to all of these ecosystem partners, we are able to meet the communication needs of public safety agencies to execute on the FirstNet vision of a fully interoperable Public Safety LTE network that is easy to deploy and maintain," said Steve Kropper, vice president, public safety, Parallel Wireless, in a press release. "Eliminating the need for months of planning and heavy, expensive equipment, our Public Safety LTE solution allows first responders to build their networks at 80 percent less cost."

The DIY Band 14-in-a-box will be commercially available in June. U.S. public safety agencies can win a week's rental of the DIY kit through a contest.

O'Malley said Cisco demonstrated a complete public safety LTE solution at APCO 2015 by bringing different partners to form an interoperable ecosystem. That Band 14 demo demonstrated the ease of deployment and maintenance of and every element required for public safety national broadband coverage, including interoperability between agencies, flexible backhaul options, resilient mobile coverage and communication from LTE to LTE.

Earlier this month, FirstNet officials said they are on track to make a final award for the nation's first dedicated public safety broadband network by November.

For more:
- see this Cisco blog
- see this Parallel press release

Related articles:
Parallel Wireless and partners put public safety LTE network to the test during Super Bowl 50
FirstNet releases final RFP for deployment of public safety broadband network
Parallel Wireless partners with Intel for RAN base station
Parallel Wireless trials 'self-configuring' public safety network in New Hampshire