Since 2009, ESChat has integrated with LMR networks using conventional radio-over-IP (RoIP) gateways, but the interest level in the ESChat P25 ISSI media gateway—a solution that leverages the ISSI standard in P25 to enable interoperability between a P25 network and ESChat being used over an LTE network—has increased dramatically during the past 12 months, Lober said.

“That enables us to take full advantage of the features supported in ISSI,” Lober said. “We are able to do not only the group calling, which is available with the conventional RoIP gateway, but we are also able to take advantage of private calls from a single LTE ESChat device to a single P25 radio, group calls and emergency calls.

“The ISSI also supports networkwide radio IDs, so each radio user knows which LTE user is talking, and vice versa. And because ESChat includes integrated mapping, we’re also able to overlay the location of the P25 radios on the ESChat map screens.”

While ESChat is best known in the industry for its push-to-talk capability, SLA engineers continually have developed new functionalities in the application, Lober said.

“We have evolved our product to not only be a push-to-talk product, but an encrypted, secure communications solution that includes push-to-talk voice, secure text and image messaging, as well as location tracking and mapping,” he said. “So, we’ve evolved our system to include many features.

“The reliability of our system is well established, and our product is used by the U.S. military, the federal government, state and local law enforcement across the country, as well as industry, including some of the nation’s largest transportation companies, hotels, school districts and universities.”

But the reliability of the application is dependent largely on the reliability of the network, and having a dedicated network like the one promised by FirstNet would address that fundamental need, Lober said.

“It’s a game changer for those of us who require real-time information, and that includes push-to-talk voice,” Lober said. “If we’re able to take the Band Class 14 spectrum availability, add that on top of what we’re doing with ESChat and secure push-to-talk voice, and then we can tie that into the existing [LMR] radio networks, it really provides a complete solution. Now, you’ve got truly one ubiquitous system whereby first responders can interoperate and communicate between agencies.”