A fitting end to an eventful year

Sam Fenwick reports from PMRExpo, the recent Ofcom BRIG meeting and FCS Business Radio 2017

PMRExpo certainly didn’t disappoint, with both its conference and exhibition (pictured right) giving some valuable insights into the biggest trends in the PMR market.

Tony Gray, chief executive of The Critical Communications Association (TCCA), gave a talk on the transition from narrowband to broadband. He highlighted ETSI’s rule of thumb that it takes two years for a 3GPP Release to make its way into devices, and predicted we might see Release 13 devices in Q1 2018 and Release 14 devices in mid-2019. He expressed his amazement that the focus of the critical communications standardisation work for LTE was initially on Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT) and explained this was driven by the requirements of some countries that are looking to adopt LTE for public safety early, such as the UK (ESN) and US (FirstNet).

Speaking of ESN, he said there is a lot more openness “to the idea that TETRA, in that case Airwave, will have to carry on for quite some time”. Gray also said ProSe, the device-to-device service for LTE, cannot do as much as Direct Mode Operation (TETRA’s equivalent) and doesn’t have enough range. He added that in a first, a commercial MNO has joined the TCCA, and “any dedicated spectrum is a great bargaining chip” for governments when negotiating with MNOs.

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