[connected planet online] Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and EADS Defence and Security are joining forces to develop new public safety technologies by combining the standards in both the land mobile radio and commercial wireless realms into a single joint solution. The two companies today said they have signed an agreement of principle to jointly develop an emergency communications platform based on long-term evolution and the Project 25 standards, designed to fuel interoperability between disparate local, state and federal agencies.
Alcatel Lucent will provide the LTE radio access infrastructure, data packet core, service delivery architecture and backhaul elements — all based on the 3GPP standards but optimized for the frequencies used by public safety agencies. Meanwhile EADS will integrate its existing LMR technology with the 4G platform, creating what amounts to an emergency radio network with an all-IP mobile broadband overlay. EADS will also supply the radio/LTE terminals and optimize its public safety applications for the LTE network. The two plan to target the platform first at 700 MHz, the band occupied by both digital LMR systems and the first U.S. LTE networks.
Regulators have been trying to align the efforts and technologies of commercial and public safety operators for some time. The 700 MHz auction was intended to create the first nationwide band accessible to any emergency agency from the federal level all the way down to the smallest town's police force. The FCC’s goal was to create a public-private partnership that would allow commercial operations and public safety to occupy the same airwaves, but the D-block failed to attract much interest from commercial operators, garnering only a single bid in 261 rounds. The FCC has made plans to re-auction the D-block spectrum this year, but last week a consortium of local and state government organizations sent a letter to federal lawmakers and regulators asking that the D-block be allocated directly to the public safety community, rather than seek a commercial operator middleman.
If the federal government were to reallocate the spectrum, that would place the responsibility of building a nationwide mobile broadband network in the hands of public agencies, which like a commercial operator might seek to deploy some version of LTE in that band. Converging around LTE would not only ensure interoperability among the different agencies, but it would allow the first responders to tap into the ecosystem developing around the 700 MHz band, creating a cheap supply of handsets, connected laptops, and data cards and other devices that are already configured for the network.
ALU, EADS partner to optimize LTE for public safety