Mutualink touts its media cohesion framework for FirstNet use

Mutualink, whose interoperability platform is fully deployed in the nation's only operationally deployed public-safety LTE network, is pushing for use of its media cohesion framework  (MCF) as part of the LTE network being planned by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

Mutualink technology is being used in the Band 14 public-safety LTE system in Harris County, Texas, which is operating under special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC because the county does not yet have a spectrum lease agreement to use FirstNet's 700 MHz frequencies. The installations are in the Transtar Emergency Operations Center and in a Harris County deployable vehicle that connects to the Band 14 evolved packet core (EPC) at College Station, Texas.

Mutualink said the system is being used to securely bridge Harris County radios and real-time video surveillance cameras around the city of Houston and the port area with other local and national entities.

In a new white paper, Mutualink contends its MCF would enable ad-hoc, on-demand, secure, multimedia interoperability among FirstNet users as well as with legacy or non-FirstNet users and systems. The system could provide a unifying framework for media and data between disparate applications and external systems, linking existing capabilities residing on or using other networks, such as mobile radio systems, video surveillance systems, telephone systems, sensor systems and more.

In Mutualink's MCF, a technology bridge is used to adapt each network to a common format, such as an IP gateway to a land-mobile radio system. The technology bridges connected to radio, video and other existing systems can only be controlled by the owning agency and communicate in a peer-to-peer mode with no centralized server or switch required.

Further, each enhanced application services and technology bridge function in the MCF forms what is called a media cohesion (MC) node. The nodes can provide collaboration between users at the same level in a hierarchy or between users at different levels.

One approach for achieving cross-system collaboration involves the use of infrastructure bridges. (Source: Mutualink)

According to the white paper's authors--Joe Boucher, Mutualink CTO and Mike Wengrovitz, vice president of innovation--one approach to achieving cross-system collaboration is to use an "infrastructure bridge" with one data center that is reachable from all desired networks to host the application services required to interconnect the users from all networks. Cross-system collaboration could also be achieved via an ad-hoc on-scene system, which might supplement the infrastructure bridge to include agencies that are outside their network footprint or for times that backhaul to the wide-area infrastructure is unavailable.

The authors note that the use of video, including video conferencing or shared video feeds, might lead to traffic congestion on the 700 MHz Band 14 network that FirstNet will operate. If backhaul will be limited, such as in a remote location, Mutualink suggests placing a small-capacity evolved packet core (EPC) and appropriate application services on scene using a system-on-wheels (SOW) approach, which would not require backhaul. Such a system could deliver video and other services without a backhaul chokepoint and would provide enhanced local resiliency and reduced latency of the media, according to the white paper.

To address the potential for over-the-air congestion, the paper suggest using an on-scene local area network (LAN), including a WLAN or "Wi-Fi bubble." The LAN would include an LTE-client router that acts as the gateway to the rest of the world. "This method requires just one video stream on the LTE over-the-air link for all LAN/WLAN viewers, so the potential offload of the LTE over-the-air link onto the WLAN is significant," the paper said.

Privately held Mutualink's technology was also used during Alcatel-Lucent's (NYSE: ALU) six-month trial of an LTE public-safety network in Las Vegas, which wrapped up in late 2013. Participating in the trial were the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the Nevada Department of Transportation and other first responders. The trial used 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum allocated to FirstNet.

For more:
- see this Mutualink release and white paper (PDF)

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