Regardless of who wins the nationwide contract for FirstNet, Parallel Wireless aims to be part of the solutions that ultimately get deployed – and after a string of demonstrations with Band 14, it’s a good bet that its contributions will be serving the public safety community in the years to come.
To be sure, Parallel is not a bidder in the FirstNet process, in which a contract could be awarded this month. But the startup, based in Nashua, New Hampshire, has been conducting public safety LTE Band 14 exercises at several high-profile events, including Super Bowl 50, Lollapalooza, the Republican National Convention and most recently, the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.
Put another way, Parallel is a neutral Switzerland-type vendor of what it considers cost-effective eNodeB and HetNet products, and it anticipates the winner of FirstNet will be attracted to its products at a state and national level.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is demystify LTE,” Steve Kropper, VP at Parallel Wireless, told FierceWirelessTech. Historically, LTE as deployed by wireless operators has been regarded as something that required technical expertise, but Kropper noted that Parallel Wireless has shown that LTE networks can be installed by law enforcement and non-technical employees. “We’re trying to make it as simple as putting a Wi-Fi network in your house,” he said.
At the Nov. 6 New York City Marathon, Parallel took pride in showing the first example of enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) for public safety, connecting not only end user devices but also a network of surveillance cameras interoperable in the Band 14 network.
The exercise involved the ability for public safety officials to monitor real-time video surveillance cameras from handheld devices provided by Sonim, which has worked with Parallel Wireless on previous demonstrations. (Sierra Wireless was also involved at the marathon, providing the MG90, which has Band 14 support on the backhaul side. Event organizers were able to plug cameras right in into it, Kropper said.)
Naturally, being able to see the video on mobile devices is ideal for law enforcement and emergency medical personnel who want to see what they're about to encounter when headed into an area where there’s an emergency.
The demo at the marathon was not presented as a mission-critical exercise; it was a research exercise, Kropper said, explaining that they wanted to tweak the levers, moving up the frame rate and resolution to understand the maximum throughput. The handsets were heavy on video download; the cameras were heavy on video upload.
Parallel found they had “very good" performance with the three cameras they were using, but they’re going to increase the number of cameras to about 10 in their next exercise, planned for the week of Nov. 14 as part of the Winter Institute at Texas A&M.