Ericsson launches its critical communications broadband portfolio

Ericsson has launched its critical communications broadband portfolio for mobile operators, to help them meet the business- and mission-critical needs of industrial and public safety customers.

The portfolio, which Ericsson states is 3GPP Release 13 compliant (and meets 3GPP Release 14 and 15 for some functionality), comprises three offerings: critical network capabilities; critical broadband applications; and flexible deployments for both local private networks, and nationwide mission-critical LTE networks.

The first of these encompasses what the company describes as advanced features for critical network performance, covering:

  • High network availability
  • multi-network operation with spectrum sharing techniques
  • coverage and capacity for critical applications
  • Network security capabilities to ensure that network services are maintained even when infrastructure is under attack
  • Quality of service, priority and preemption to guarantee latency performance and capacity requirements during high load and congestion
  • Features to simplify the rollout of broadcasting services, including the use of Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (eMBMS)
  • The ability for mobile broadband radio access sites to operate in fallback mode via Isolated E-UTRAN operation for public safety (IOPS), should the network connection/backhaul to the core network fail. This feature has limited availability until the end of 2019.
  • Deployable systems to allow temporary coverage for disaster recovery and operations in rural areas without existing coverage.

The critical broadband applications offering covers: Ericsson Group-Radio that provides mission-critical push-to-talk, data and video services, while its flexible deployments for private networks range from network slicing to fully dedicated networks, and the company claims that these will enable service providers to offer scalable, critical broadband network solutions and services for critical industries.

While speaking to Critical Communications Today, Manuel Ruiz, VP global head of mission critical and private networks at Ericsson (pictured right), highlighted the perception that public safety is being the early adopter for the transition from LMR to broadband while noting the opportunities present in the many other industries that currently use LMR. He added that part of the thinking behind the company’s new portfolio is the need to provide operators and end-users with the flexibility that they require and that can address the different models that exist for mission-critical broadband such as dedicated or hybrid networks, the use of commercial networks and roaming between these different elements.

“…We see many discussions [around] spectrum, in different governments about what is the right model [and] what is the role of the operators. That’s why that we believe that in addition to the technology, we need to provide flexibility because not all the customers have the same level of investment or the same level of requirements for dedicated networks…”

Ruiz said that this portfolio is aimed at situations where the availability and reliability requirements are so high that network slicing is insufficient. “Network slicing can serve a large [proportion] of customers, industries [and] government but when the level of critical [need] is higher is when we come with this portfolio…”

He added that Ericsson is already involved in several major critical broadband projects, including FirstNet in the US (as a supplier to AT&T), the work to provide the United Nation’s peacekeeping missions with mission-critical LTE, and has replaced the narrowband iDEN network belonging to Southern Linc, a wireless regional carrier serving electric utilities, with an dedicated LTE-only network that supports push-to-talk, cellular messaging and data.

Thomas Lynch, executive director at IHS Markit, said: “The critical communications industry is developing ways to deliver critical mobile broadband solutions for professional users, augmenting today’s critical voice communications. Through its new portfolio, Ericsson is empowering service providers to address this growing segment by leveraging their existing LTE infrastructure and operations in an affordable and scalable manner.”

Further reading
UN’s peacekeeping missions to start using private LTE in 2019