Shortly after taking the reins of this publication seven years ago, Senior Writer Donny Jackson and I started to write that one day voice over IP (VoIP) not only would come to the public-safety sector, it would be used for mission-critical communications. We were ridiculed as blasphemers. For a time, I thought we might actually be stoned as we walked the aisles of various industry events such as our annual IWCE conference in Las Vegas.

At the time, it was unfathomable to public-safety communications officials that any IP network could be used for mission-critical communications. And that was an accurate assessment — at the time. But Jackson and I had been on the editorial team at Telephony magazine, and we saw how fast VoIP was developing. We had seen how engineers had solved the jitter and latency issues that had relegated VoIP to use by consumers looking to save on long-distance telephone charges. (Remember those days? Seems like a very long time ago, doesn’t it?)

We also had seen how fast enterprises were embracing VoIP, because it was a far less expensive option compared with the public-switched telephone network. Indeed, our company right around that time switched to an IP-based phone system.

While we didn’t have any idea how they were going to do it, or when, both Jackson and I were convinced that the design engineers eventually would solve the aforementioned issues to the degree necessary that IP networks some day would carry mission-critical voice communications.

I was reminded of all that as I read the story in this edition of UC Today written by contributing writer Lynnette Luna concerning the progress to date in terms of advancing voice over Long Term Evolution (LTE), an IP-based wireless architecture that is the choice of both the commercial and public-safety sectors for next-generation mobile broadband communications systems. Particularly exciting is the prospect of introducing broadcast and multicast capabilities into the mix, which would address one of public safety’s primary concerns about any non-land mobile radio network, which is the need for one-to-many communications.

Undoubtedly, there is much work still to do. But I have absolutely no doubt that, one day, public safety will be using LTE to carry mission-critical voice communications. Never bet against the engineers who design telecommunications systems.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.

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