Mexico: Airbus launches SMVNO service

Airbus has launched MXLINK, its Secure Mobile Virtual Network Operator (SMVNO) for Mexican public safety and defence authorities, which offers multi-operator coverage, interoperability with the National Radiocommunication Tetrapol Network, and end-to-end voice and data security.

MXLINK leverages a number of technological advances in the country - such as the deployment of Red Compartida (a public-private partnership (PPP)-type project by the Mexican government and Altan Redes, a Spanish consortium, to bring broadband connectivity to 92 per cent of the Mexican population; see our article on Mexico’s critical communications market here) – and MXLINK end users can access Airbus’ portfolio of applications, including Tactilon Agnet, which delivers secure, multimedia instant messaging, push-to-video, intelligent tactical awareness features, and location mapping, as well as Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) and end-to-end encryption.

The National Radiocommunication Network (Red Nacional de Radiocomunicación de Misión Crítica Tetrapol), which was initially deployed in 1999, today covers 85 per cent of the population and 50 per cent of the Mexican territory with Tetrapol technology, and supports more than 100,000 active terminals.

“Governmental security organisations need high-quality state-of-the-art technology,” said Fred Gallart, head of sales & program delivery Latin America of Secure Land Communications at Airbus. “Our aim is to provide them with just that. MXLINK is a reliable and very secure network service which is fully compatible and complementary with existing communication platforms such as Red Nacional de Radiocommunication and Red Compartida.”

“Indeed, public safety users can now communicate efficiently on any desired platform with use of Tactilon Agnet, and hence benefit from trustworthy interoperability features,” Gallart added.

Airbus signalled its intention to create an SMVNO in Mexico back in 2017 and at the time it also announced that it had selected Nokia as a technology partner, with Nokia providing a Mini Compact Core, specifically designed for private LTE networks, which can prioritise public safety voice, data and video traffic over normal traffic and also offers secure subscriber management and separation of emergency traffic.

The transition to mission-critical broadband is leading public safety operators, Airbus’s traditional customers for narrowband TETRA and Tetrapol infrastructure, to look at becoming mobile virtual network operators as a way to provide their customers with mobile data services that meet their requirements, such as priority and pre-emption. For example, Belgium’s ASTRID launched its Blue Light Mobile MVNO service back in 2014, which is now in its second iteration. This implies that Airbus may be able to gain valuable experience from operating MXLINK and use it to inform its future research and development activities.

The MXLINK launch took place in Mexico City on 3 May.