It turns out that eMBMS pertains to more than just LTE Broadcast or as Verizon refers to it, LTE Multicast. It’s also the basis for Mission-Critical-Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) technology that SK Telecom and Nokia demonstrated in what they’re calling a world’s first.
MCPTT is a next-generation push-to-talk technology that runs over VoLTE and supports a stable group communication service, even when there’s a surge in users, through the application of Group Communication System Enabler (GCSE). GCSE is an evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS)-based group communication technology adopted by 3GPP. eMBMS can transmit large-volume multimedia content to massive users at once over an LTE network.
SK Telecom and Nokia demonstrated their MCPTT solution at Nokia’s Research and Development Center in Krakow, Poland. SK said it plans to use the solution for Public Safety LTE (PS-LTE) and LTE Railroad (LTE-R) in Korea.
“For the first time in the world, SK Telecom and Nokia have successfully developed MCPTT, the core solution for public safety networks,” said Shim Sang-soo, senior vice president and head of Infra Business Promotion Office at SK in a press release. “SK Telecom will continue to contribute to the successful completion of the public safety network project in Korea, while actively seeking new business opportunities in the global market.”
SK Telecom said it expects to expand its reach to countries that are currently promoting public safety network projects such as the United States and Great Britain.
A FirstNet representative wasn’t immediately available to comment as to whether it will be adopting MCPTT. However, IWCE’s Urgent Communications last year reported that FirstNet always planned to implement MCPTT in its network, although organization officials repeatedly emphasized that public-safety officials will determine when the functionality is trusted enough to be used in life-and-death scenarios faced by first responders. But given that MCPTT over LTE was expected to meet or exceed current LMR services, its chances look pretty good.
One of the big benefits of having a standards-based PTT solution is the interoperability it affords as well as economies of scale. Even though it’s been around for many years, PTT is still considered the go-to method of communication and an essential component of the nationwide public safety broadband network that FirstNet is charged with deploying.
While FirstNet missed a November target of awarding the broadband network contract, reports emerged late last year that AT&T is the likely winning bidder, but legal challenges are delaying any official word.
FirstNet in November celebrated the opening of its FirstNet Innovation and Test Lab at its technical headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. The lab serves as a “plug and play” environment where FirstNet can conduct validation and verification testing for the network, services and features and aid future research and development related to public safety broadband technologies.