WASHINGTON, D.C.—Nokia Networks today announced an LTE “network in a box” (NIB) configuration that can be deployed to an incident to provide on-scene coverage and the ability to use applications—most notably, the Harris BeOn application that supports P25 voice interoperability and other key functions—without connectivity to the primary evolved packet core (EPC) for a larger public-safety network, like the one proposed by FirstNet.

Last year, Nokia and Harris introduced a deployable eNodeB—an LTE base station—with features that included satellite backhaul, according to Bob Fennelly, head of government business at Nokia Networks. This year’s NIB announcement represents a significant evolution of that vision, because an EPC and mobile edge computing (MEC) capability is included in the deployable package, which means incident-area communications and applications can be accessed and shared without connecting to main network EPC, he said.

“What we’ve done is taken it a step further. Within our eNodeB, which is the most-compact macro offering in the industry, we have not only a complete LTE core—a network-in-a-box, including an LTE core and radio—but we also have this mobile edge computing capability that allows us to put applications at the edge,” Fennelly said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“The key application that we’re putting out now is the very successful Harris BeOn application that would deliver functionality like push to talk, situational awareness, group messaging, location tracking and video streaming, as well as an application layer with end-to-end security through BeOn—and it’s all contained within the eNodeB.”

Expected to be commercially available during the fourth quarter of this year, the Nokia Networks NIB solution currently occupies six rack units and weighs 65-70 pounds, Fennelly said. Nokia Networks officials expect the package to become more compact in the near future, he said.

“We think it’s feasible to get this capability into a squad-car type configuration,” Fennelly said. “With what we know about FirstNet’s schedule, I think we’ll be [to have a squad-car-sized package] ready by the time FirstNet is deploying.”