(Advertorial) Ask the expert

At Airbus, we receive constant feedback from our customers and one of the questions we ask on our website is “What do you seek to achieve with hybrid networks?” This question tends to open up a Pandora’s Box of more questions, so here we present the top six questions together with answers from our experts.

How can TETRA and LTE work together?

Professionals frequently need to co-operate with a wide range of colleagues. But how can they use voice communications and share their data when they are using different technologies?

Voice communications can be achieved by a smartphone application that allows people to participate in group communication, the main tool for mission and business critical communication. Another possibility to encourage and enable cooperation is to use hybrid devices that support both TETRA and LTE.

How can we achieve mission-critical security and high data speeds at the same time?

The simple answer is to use a hybrid network. TETRA is used for mission-critical secure and reliable communications, while LTE networks provide high data speeds for apps and other solutions.

The LTE network can be dedicated or a commercial mobile operator’s network, or a combination of the two. If the mobile broadband network is run by a commercial operator, the service chain can be divided into two parts - the commercial operator’s mobile network services and the governmental service provider’s public safety services.

In this approach, a public safety organization can continue with a TETRA network for mission-critical voice and messaging and introduce mobile broadband services step-by-step. Once again, this calls for close co-operation to set up end-to-end services to meet public safety users’ needs.

One way of evolving towards broadband services is to start with a Secure MVNO service, using several mobile operators’ services to achieve improved coverage and reliability. This is particularly suited to providing mobile office applications. Dedicated broadband capacity can be added as needed to improve the coverage, or when applications become mission-critical.

Can a hybrid network save me money?

Using a hybrid network means investments can be made gradually as and when needed. Investments in hybrid networks add value today, but also offer long-term benefits by acting as a bridge between existing narrowband networks and future solutions. The broadband network can be developed in different ways depending on which applications are needed and the level of investment that can be supported.

What is the road to broadband?

Organizations seeking to implement a broadband service need to work with users in:

• Defining use cases for new apps

• Mobilizing existing apps

• Deciding on new applications

• Assessing and testing new devices

• Conducting trials

When this work is conducted co-operatively between operators and end-user organizations, the result is greater user value, that is, happy customers and a clear plan of how to proceed in the future.

Needs for integration must be particularly assessed on the mission-critical operator side and the operational planning side. This assessment must address:

• Control rooms - Control room integration is required to link mission critical services and other applications with control room systems. Similarly, dispatching solutions are also vital.

• Group communications services - Various management functions are also needed. Among these is Organizational Management, which is the management of user organizations’ structures, groups and operational models.

• Provisioning - The service provider must be able to provision, monitor and control the user services in a consistent way. This is best achieved through centralized control, which offers integration of the TETRA/Tetrapol and broadband services, as well as integration with user organizations’ solutions and control rooms.

• Security management - Application security is vital to ensure that end-to-end public safety services are secure and that services are accessible only to authorized users. A protective security wall is needed between the “Public Safety Solution” and a commercial operator’s network.

• Field command solutions - Dispatching/control room interfaces that allow consistent communication between dispatchers, TETRA/Tetrapol radios and smart devices on broadband networks.

• Tactical solutions - Tactical management functions handle the daily management of groups and subscribers to support changing field operations, typically done by user organizations.

If this planning is carried out properly, continuity of the service for end-users is ensured. This is vital, both in mission-critical and business critical operations.

What solutions can help bring TETRA and LTE together into one network?

A smooth move to a hybrid network requires that the users’ devices can access both the PMR network and the broadband (LTE) network. While a user could have two separate devices, this is not only cumbersome and costly, but also limits the user’s ability to combine the functions of the two networks.

Teamwork involving a wide range of people is essential to maintain the safety and security of smart cities. With the Airbus Tactilon Agnet solution, a team can be extended to include additional vital resources when needed, regardless of which devices team members are using. Furthermore, critical apps can be made available for use by TETRA and LTE users.

The Airbus Tactilon Dabat is the world’s first device to combine a smartphone and a TETRA radio in one package, and it lets users access reliable TETRA services and advanced data applications at the same time. Tactilon Dabat brings the advantages of smartphones to professional TETRA users, removing the barriers to combining professional voice with easy data access.

Hybrid apps enable new services and ways of communicating. The Airbus Critical Apps Ecosystem and the SmarTWISP program are developing innovative apps for mission-critical and business-critical users.

Without a tool for subscriber management in the hybrid environment, organizations would have subscribers separately provisioned into each network. There would be no link between a PMR subscriber and the equivalent entity in the broadband network.

With thousands of users on a typical PMR network and broadband network, managing every user individually and separately in different networks would be enormously time consuming and expensive. It would probably be impossible! Subscriber Management tool handling users in PMR and broadband networks is needed.

Providing communication services over a hybrid network calls for real-time insight. This is straightforward for a TETRA or Tetrapol network, but a hybrid network may involve one or more Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). How will the service operator know that every operator complies with their Service Level Agreements (SLAs)? How can the operator know that the users are getting the agreed communication service levels?

Airbus Viewcor® answers the challenge by providing service quality analytics and visualizing the network’s service level. With ViewCor, the hybrid network operator can see what kind of service users are receiving from the MNOs, in real-time.