Harris today announced its deployment of a single-site pilot LTE network on 700 MHz public-safety broadband spectrum that will be used by first responders in the 35 municipalities of Miami-Dade County, Fla., for at least the next four months.

Scheduled to continue through July, the pilot LTE network leverages Band 14 radio infrastructure gear — both the radio access network (RAN) base stations and a remote LTE core located in Massachusetts — from Harris partner Nokia Siemens Networks.

“Its purpose really is for us to work together with them and explore the possibilities that the technology makes available to them,” said Chuck Shaughnessy, vice president of the LTE business for Harris Public Safety and Professional Communications. “It’s working well, in that regard.

“I think it’s significant that they’re working seamlessly with the core being 2,000 miles away. This whole idea of a core in a remote location with substantive backhaul is relatively new to public-safety communications, because they are used to having their [LMR] switch in their same community.”

Harris also is using the pilot project to demonstrate the effectiveness of the company’s Next Connect VPN solution. Developed with partner NetMotion — provider of the popular Mobility XE mobile VPN offering that Miami-Dade County has been using — Next Connect is designed to maintain session persistence as users switch between networks, such as a private LTE network to a commercial broadband network, while making the transition more efficiently than commercial VPN offerings.

“We’ve done some experiments with Miami-Dade and the Next Connect, and it seems to be doing everything we expected it to,” Shaughnessy said. “From the reports I hear … they’ve been able to do what our Next Connect solution advertises.”

Some of the key applications supported by the LTE network include real-time video, situational-awareness applications and a solution that integrates P25 LMR and LTE to provide users with access to the capability of both types of public-safety communications systems.

“Miami-Dade is leaping forward to bring our first responders much-needed access to data-rich applications only available through LTE,” Felix Perez, director of Miami-Dade County’s radio communications information division, said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased with the coverage of this initial system, and the ease with which we’ve integrated our existing applications.

“Importantly, this program brings the potential for advanced capabilities, as well as greater efficiency and effectiveness in the field. With more than 2.4 million citizens to serve, our officers require the enhanced situational awareness that only public safety LTE can deliver.”

Shaughnessy said Perez and his Miami-Dade County staffers have been ideal partners as the vendor tries to learn more about LTE deployments.

“I’ve been in this business a long time, and there are a whole lot of public-safety officials that are afraid of new technology and would rather go slow,” Shaughnessy said. “Felix is a pioneer in that regard — he wants to push the envelope and be out there.”

Related stories: