The Australian Critical Communications Forum (ACCF) hosted a pre-conference Comms Connect workshop on 18 October, titled ‘Latest initiatives and innovations in critical LMR, Broadband and Control Centres’, covering the future of LMR with LTE, 4G and 5G networks both public and private.
The ACCF, a regional chapter of the TCCA, has a longstanding and successful association with the organisers of the Comms Connect events in support of Australasian mission- and business-critical LMR and broadband users. The workshop was held in cooperation with the Australian Control Room Network Association (ACRNA) — a key industry association representing a diverse range of control room operators — with presentations from ACRNA committee members, Melbourne University CDMPS and Zetron addressing the digital/wireless revolution; the future impacts on control rooms; and the global trends in control room solutions and standards.
Some 50 delegates were in attendance, with representatives from USA, New Zealand, and most states and territories. The workshop and keynote speakers provided the delegates with the latest LMR/broadband product and technology overviews and case studies addressing the convergence of mission- and business-critical LMR and broadband (ETSI and 3GPP LTE 4G, 5G standards) capabilities serving industry and society.
TCCA CEO Kevin Graham highlighted the necessity of industry, vendors and end users coming together to align. It was also highly pleasing to see presentations from Simoco Wireless Solutions, Sepura, DAMM and Tait Communication all focusing on the LMR/broadband evolution to converge multiple networks, LMR/LTE/satellite devices and applications for P25, DMR and TETRA narrowband standards with clear focus on end user requirements.
When converging with broadband, the user requirements present challenges when it comes to deploying integrated solutions and the evolution from critical narrowband to broadband and dual (hybrid) mode. Standardised narrowband LMR technologies will continue to provide critical communications well into the next decade, but increasingly with mix-and-match capability (eg, interworking gateways, dual mode, hybrids) to include 3GPP-based critical broadband.
Simoco Wireless Solutions, Sepura, DAMM and Tait Communications and a number of other vendors provide interim standard-based solutions, reducing operational risk during the transition period when many business- and mission-critical users such as public safety, rail, utilities and industry demand new functionalities to improve situational awareness and operational efficiency to support their new use cases and service performance. Aqura, a Telstra Purple company, meanwhile addressed ‘the closing of the connectivity gap’ and the use of private LTE/4G/5G in Australia, and provided a case study of the Pilbara Ports Authority in WA.
As there is an ever-increasing importance of sharing knowledge between organisations, sectors, verticals and nations, to keep advancing critical communications deployments, broadband network challenges, global initiatives and case studies, the workshop addressed some of these. Agencies from Australia, New Zealand and USA presented their unique programs at the workshop, including the Australian PSMB, FirstNet USA and the New Zealand NGCC, including PSMB deployments with mobile network operators.
TCCA provided additional case studies of critical broadband communications deployments and initiatives from around the globe, such as Virve in Finland, ESN UK, SafeNet Korea, PCSTORM in France and a number of EU countries. Countries all appear to be heading in the same direction in the integration of LMR and broadband with focus on public safety and emergency agencies, learning from each other and studying best practices, all striving to put the very best tools for the job in the hands of critical communications users over the coming months, years and decades.
The workshop was a testament to the value of the ACCF, ACRNA and TCCA and the networking strength and knowledge that individuals and organisations can achieve by attending such workshops in the pursuit of rapidly changing business- and mission-critical technologies, standards and operational best practices.
The Australasian Critical Communications Forum (ACCF) is the regional chapter of The Critical Communications Association (TCCA), a unique global association where many diverse organisations collaborate and network across the critical communications ecosystem working with standardisation bodies, 3GPP, ETSI, government agencies, mobile operators, manufacturers, solution providers and end users over 160 organisations around the world.