How will PTT-capable smartphones impact public safety communications?

Co-Founder of The Public Safety Network Jason Karp discusses how PushToTalk-capable smartphones may impact the future of public safety communications.

With the introduction of FirstNet PTT, the first commercial push-to-talk service built on mission-critical standards, public safety agencies now have the opportunity to augment their existing radio communications with modern, cloud-connected smartphones.

For police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, hardened smartphones with public safety-grade push-to-talk (PTT) represent an important technology convergence. First responders are already leveraging smartphones in the field for a variety of applications. The convenience of accessing reliable push-to-talk communications on these same 4G-connected mobile devices is undeniable.

In addition, mobile manufacturers have played a part by bringing to market specialized hardware with features like physical PTT and “responder down” buttons, superior durability and user-replaceable batteries. Rugged smartphones like Samsung’s new Galaxy XCover FieldPro represent a new breed of LTE-connected communication tools for public safety that can integrate with existing land mobile radio (LMR) networks.


Leveraging PTT with hardened smartphones will greatly diminish the interoperability issues that have existed for years between and among land mobile radio networks. Traditionally, the United States has had more than 10,000 separate LMR networks for public safety, creating substantial interoperability issues among jurisdictions and agencies.

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