HOUSTON — Harris today introduced BeOn, a push-to-talk solution designed to let enterprises have managed group communications on a global scale with LMR users by leveraging its VIDA network and 3G /4G cellular technologies — including LTE networks that currently do not support voice.

“Ultimately, if it has an IP address, we can push to talk to it, with all the features and functions,” said John Vaughan, senior vice president of global marketing and business development for the public safety and professional communications business of Harris’ RF communications division. “Are we doing everything in the entire universe today? No. But that’s the direction.”

Built on the Harris VIDA network platform, BeOn enables high-performance push-to-talk communications over commercial wireless networks with features such as group calling, individual calling, group scanning, distress calls, and dispatch/administrative services. BeOn also integrates wireless services such as user location, user presence/status, and text messaging. BeOn capability can be added to smartphones as a downloaded application.

Harris officials stress that the first version of BeOn is designed for non–mission-critical enterprise applications, because it depends on the best-effort connectivity of commercial cellular networks. BeOn can be a useful tool that allows off-network personnel — for example, traveling supervisors — to communicate with talk groups on LMR networks, Vaughan said.

“LMR is local — the ‘L’ doesn’t stand for local, but it is,” he said. “This is global. This is worldwide. … Anytime you can make a phone call, now you can make a push-to-talk call.”

However, if leveraged on a dedicated network with public-safety standards of reliability and redundancy, BeOn could be used to provide mission-critical voice communications, Vaughan said.

“It’s not lacking the features and functionality,” he said. ”What is lacking is a hardened physical network.”

With this in mind, Harris today also announced that it is partnering with Nokia Siemens to develop VIDA broadband LTE for public safety. The partnership could allow mission-critical voice over broadband to become a reality in the near future, especially with 21 public-safety jurisdictions receiving FCC waivers to deploy broadband wireless networks in the 700 MHz band, Vaughan said.

“If you take this network, and you put it in an appropriate shelter with the battery backup and a generator, and a ruggedized tower and antenna subsystems that we know, then you have mission-critical data,” Vaughan said. “If you then take that voice and put it over [public safety–grade LTE], then you have mission-critical voice.”

“Fundamentally, what will happen is that one of the 21 waiver [jurisdictions] — we hope and expect — will install this [LTE] radio-access network and the VIDA network, probably connecting it to their data system. Now, I can connect it all to voice. The simple question we ask is, ‘Does your broadband network talk?’ So, you can make the one-to-many call from the LTE side or from the LMR side. When you put all the pieces together, you can make the whole puzzle.”