Support for mission-critical LTE communications research became global today, when the Global Alliance of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and TETRA Critical Communications Association (TCCA) announced joint support of first-responder LTE research being conducted in the U.S.

While LTE has been developed as a commercial 4G cellular standard, public-safety entities are seeking functionality and reliability that will address the needs of first responders, with the most notable long-term goal being mission-critical voice that could provide an alternative to traditional LMR systems.

In the United States — where a nationwide public-safety broadband network has 20 MHz of contiguous spectrum and a promise of $7 billion in funding to support it — the first-responder LTE research is being done by the Public Safety Communications Research Laboratories (PSCR), which is a joint program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

"Public-safety agencies and governments need sound, evidence-based research to inform decisions about investment options that will both meet the needs of the agencies and contribute to a strong competitive marketplace for public safety equipment manufacturers, vendors and network operators," APCO President Gregg Riddle said in a prepared statement. "The [APCO} Global Alliance and the TCCA therefore believe that the research being undertaken by the PSCR on public-safety communications is critical to identifying the needs of the public-safety community for LTE and, therefore, fully supports the efforts of the PSCR to have these needs recognized by standards bodies.

"The Global Alliance and the TCCA believe that the formation of new affiliations, such as theirs, will produce the combined expertise and influence necessary to increase the awareness for the world's public safety agencies to have access to LTE, through a level of collaboration, cooperation and coordination between agencies, their bureaucracies and governments — in conjunction with the private sector — on a scale not seen before."