Event report: on the world stage

Critical Communications Today reports from Hytera’s Middle East and Africa PMR summit, which took place in Istanbul.

Hytera’s PMR summit was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it gave a deep insight into the company’s progress and ambition, both within the region in question, as well as from a global perspective. Secondly – and probably more compelling – it provided a snapshot of one of the industry’s major players as it negotiates a time of both great technological and cultural change.

The event began with an introduction from TCCA CEO Kevin Graham, who gave an overview of the global mission-critical communications landscape, taking in everything from standardisation to the state of the market. Graham’s presence at the event was important for any number of reasons, not least in light of his recently stated intentions to actively give the organisation a much more ‘global’ presence.

Beginning his presentation, he said: “We are now entering into the fourth generation of critical communications. The driver is now data – the ability to utilise information. This requires broadband spectrum as well as much more complex technology across the entire ecosystem.

“These data-centric services are largely already available via commercial networks on standardised 3GPP technologies. Thus, all over the world they have adapted to complement mission-critical narrowband voice and messaging services with commercial grade, broadband data delivery. The big step now is to find a way to mission-critical LTE and 5G.”

Graham continued by identifying three primary areas which he said need to be addressed in order to enable ‘mission critical’ verticals to transition in the direction of broadband. These included the ‘technology’ itself, ‘the environment’ (for instance, the legal and regulatory landscape) and lastly ‘the users’. Discussing the latter, he said that users had trusted LMR systems for years and that, consequently, “we need to ensure that the same trust [exists] in any critical broadband deployment”.

Finishing his presentation, Graham touched on TCCA’s global role going forward, bringing together mission-critical stakeholders from around the world. “It’s important that our industry understands some of the factors which are important in achieving convergence and product innovation to achieve end-user requirements.

“What we’re trying to do is aggregate all those requirements, and look at what are the common factors that we need to fight for, whether it’s spectrum, functionality or prioritisation and efforts in the standards. That’s why it’s important we all get together across all of the regions.”

With Graham having provided his introduction to the conference, the tone of the content across the rest of the day shifted to become much more Hytera-specific. Subsequent sessions included insights into the company’s overall strategy, its technology, its regional partnership building, as well as its ongoing marketing effort. There was also input from regional users, and break-out workshops focusing on specific verticals.

Following on immediately from Graham, director of Hytera MENA, Stanley Song, delivered a keynote speech titled ‘Always leading, always innovating’. He began this by noting the ongoing changes in the mission-critical sector, with users first going from “legacy PMR technology” to digital technology, before ultimately – as indicated by Graham – incorporating broadband.

Song illustrated the company’s place in the market via a slide stating that its revenue has grown markedly in the last 10 years. One of the reasons for this, he said, was Hytera’s emphasis on research and development. “[We have] 10 innovative R&D centres worldwide, with five in China and five located
overseas. Each year we invest heavily into R&D to keep our products and solutions innovative and have almost 3,000 international patents.”

Moving on to the next part of his presentation, Song offered delegates an insight into the potential future of the company, involving, he said, an overwhelming emphasis on the needs of users. Echoing Graham’s comments about the increasing popularity of broadband in both the mission- and business-critical domains, he stated: “The world is unpredictable. [Users’] jobs are becoming increasingly complicated, so they need more information to make decisions to improve situational awareness.

“We are investing in LTE technology, helping our users [access] high-speed data services. We’re also providing intelligent assistance through AI and big data, as well as more efficient management through IoT sensors.”

Following a number of presentations from Hytera itself taking place across the course of the morning, the latter part of the day included sessions dedicated to users of the company’s technology situated primarily in Africa and the Middle East. This included organisations such as IGA Istanbul Airport and Zener Marine Technology from Qatar.

The Middle East and Africa PMR summit gave a useful insight into the way Hytera aims to conduct its business going into the future. It also provided a decent warm-up for Critical Communications World, taking place as it did four days prior to that event, situated just two hours away in Vienna.

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