BAPCO 2024 speaker focus: Mladen Vratonjić

The TCCA chair discusses his presentation in Coventry in March, alongside the importance of cooperation in mission critical comms.

Can you describe what you will be talking about during your presentation at the BAPCO 2024 Annual Event. Why is it an important topic? 

My presentation is called ‘TCCA, success in cooperation - charting the right path to broadband critical communications.’ It will show how important it is for the sector to work together to achieve common goals, through our TCCA Working Groups, and through the increasingly wide participation in our Government Authorities Global Village at Critical Communications World each year.

The challenges in delivering critical broadband are common to many, and sharing knowledge is invaluable. We will talk about the necessity of applying standard solutions. We will also talk about the importance of testing and certification as a control mechanism, and a guarantee that the user will get a functional and compliant system for their money.

In the long run, everyone benefits from the production and implementation of standard solutions.

What do you see as being the big issues and challenges for the sector over the next five years?

The issues and challenges over the next five years, I think will not be dissimilar to those being faced today. That is, how to achieve effective coexistence and interworking between narrowband and broadband critical networks. Also, understanding the regulatory landscape for critical networks sharing consumer networks, and the increasing threat posed by bad actors in the cybersecurity space.

[We also need to] integrate artificial intelligence, so it is of benefit to critical users. Spectrum availability [is also an issue]. Funding too. Some countries are lucky to have a big pot of investment, others less so.

What will likely be the most transformative development over the next five years in terms of the technology? What will that mean for user operations, as well as the broader market?

Probably artificial intelligence becoming properly integrated into networks and services, so it enhances the work of users. However, it is important that we understand its limitations and how to manage it.

Generative AI is already proving powerful beyond expectations. However, in unregulated and unskilled hands it could prove counterproductive.

What opportunities do you see for the sector in the current environment? What big changes would you like to see in the world of UK public safety communications? 

There are changes ongoing around the world as nations move to critical broadband networks. The Emergency Services Network is in the spotlight for many reasons, and has both opportunities and challenges that it can share with counterparts in other countries.

The UK also remains a showcase for TETRA technology with the Airwave network, so it will be exciting to see how the two networks co-exist in the future.

What key messages or take-home points would you like people to get from your session? What will be most useful to them from a practical point of view? 

The key message from TCCA is cooperation. Cooperation among users and industry, and other stakeholders. Cooperation among different agencies and internationally.

We are a small sector on the global stage, but one on which everyone, in some shape or form, depends. The achievements that have been made in terms of influencing 3GPP and stakeholders around the world have been truly impressive - even more so when you consider that the vast majority of the work is carried out by volunteers.

I would encourage everyone to become involved. The more people who participate in this critical work, the greater the advances will be.

Which conference sessions are you most looking forward to seeing?

The conference programme looks excellent and all sessions I am sure will be valuable. A particular highlight I am looking forward to is the discussion on the morning of 6 March, chaired by TCCA member Actica’s Robin Davis who heads up TCCA’s Future Technologies Group.

This session is looking at what is on the horizon in terms of future technology developments relevant to critical communications.  Also, TCCA Board of Directors member Cate Walton will speak about ESMCP's international collaboration activities and the benefits they create for the program.

I expect to hear another confirmation of the necessity of cooperation, which we promote as one of our core values.

To find out more about BAPCO 2024, click here.