Nokia Networks expands public safety LTE capabilities with Harris

Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK) has expanded its LTE network in a box (NIB) solution by integrating the BeOn communications suite offering from its public safety partner Harris Corporation. The solution is being showcased at the APCO 2015 conference in Washington, D.C., this week.

Nokia says its NIB enables communications at emergency scenes where wide area network coverage is not available. The NIB is basically a compact macro base station with an integrated core network. With the addition of Harris' contributions, the LTE NIB now offers BeOn land mobile radio-like (LMR) applications, including push-to-talk, situational awareness, group messaging, location tracking and streaming video over the public safety broadband LTE network.

Bob Fennelly, head of government and public safety for Nokia Networks, said Nokia has been working together with Harris for more than five years to come up with solutions that enhance communications for public safety. That's important as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) prepares to launch the first nationwide broadband public safety network in the U.S.

"We plan to be on the Harris team and compete for this … fair share of FirstNet," he told FierceWirelessTech. Nokia Networks has been active with FirstNet since its formation, and it's very active in the standards bodies, contributing to groups like 3GPP. In 3GPP Release 12 and 13, there are a lot of public safety features that are coming out that will be standardized and replicate even more what can be done in today's narrowband public safety equipment, according to Fennelly.

"We see it as a big market, not only for FirstNet but around the globe. It's a growing market" and the future of public safety clearly is broadband, he said.

The FirstNet Office of the Chief Technology Officer has discussed the concept of a Mobile Communications Unit (MCU) meant to address the needs of remote first responders when they're outside of terrestrial coverage. The Nokia LTE network in a box would seem to fit the criteria of maintaining communications while a squad car, for example, is outside the conventional network range. Nokia says vital public safety communications can be implemented at rural emergency scenes and disaster areas without network coverage "in minutes instead of days."

While FirstNet has ambitious goals, it's not expected to roll out a network in the foreseeable future. Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson has told lawmakers that "we should be shot" if the network is not operational by 2022. The FirstNet board back in April authorized the release of a special notice requesting feedback on draft Request for Proposals (RFP) documents, and a final RFP is expected toward the end of this year.

While it's no secret that Motorola dominated the public safety gear market for years, all that's changed as other new players compete for the business. Nokia wants to compete for the business like all the others, and Harris is an important part of Nokia's future in the space. "We're going to continue to develop solutions that meet the needs of first responders" and hope to be part of the rollout of FirstNet's nationwide broadband public safety network, Fennelly said.

The Nokia LTE NIB offers standard authorized IP connectivity and can be pre-installed to public safety vehicles or to trailers with antenna masts for full macro site coverage. It includes an eNodeB base station and an integrated core network, which also can serve several neighboring eNodeBs if transmission connections are available, according to a press release.

The LTE NIB mobile edge computing (MEC) capability provides "robust and secure" communications as well as agile and flexible integration with third-party applications at the network edge that consequently benefit from low latency, Nokia says. Such applications include self-organizing network (SON), audio and video analytics, M2M analytics, localized video broadcasting, intelligent map application and augmented reality, among others.

For more:
- see this release

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