Sonim Technologies recently demonstrated its XP7 hardened smartphones working on the 700 MHz public-safety Band 14 network being operated in Adams County, Colo. The demonstration was a precursor to a pilot that will allow Adams County to evaluate the Sonim gear for several weeks this spring, according to a company official.

“We demonstrated our Sonim XP7 devices working on Band 14 in the Adams County network,” Bob Escalle, senior director of public-safety and defense markets for Sonim Technologies, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“We showed off a couple of applications. One was a situational-awareness application from Drakontas, and the other one was Mutualink. Mutualink was demonstrating their interoperability with different LMR networks and showing their IP-camera capabilities and video feeds to not only the desktop environment, but to the XP7 itself. It was a brief demonstration, but we had a lot of participants in the audience.”

During the two-hour “educational event,” Sonim officials explained how the XP7 device could be used with a carrier network today as public-safety entities prepare for an eventual migration to FirstNet’s Band 14 LTE network that is being designed for first responders, according to Escalle.

Thus far, reaction to the Sonim’s XP7 device has been positive, Escalle said.

“People have been mesmerized by the ultra-rugged, IP-69 rating and the battery capacity,” he said. “[Users appreciate] the idea that you can get through two full shifts with the device under the worst possible environment—GPS on, Wi-Fi on, LTE on. It’s been a fabulous response.”

Adams County personnel will gain more experience with the XP7, as Sonim will provide 7-10 of the devices to the county as part of a pilot project that is expected to last between 45 days to two months, Escalle said. In addition to Adams County having an opportunity to learn more about the Sonim devices and related application, the pilot will let county officials evaluate portable coverage on its new LTE network that was launched last year, he said.

“They originally built the network for mobile coverage or in-vehicle coverage, so this provides them with a great opportunity to see what kind of in-building coverage they have with handheld units for future expansion of the network,” Escalle said. “So, it’s a great opportunity to [evaluate] both aspects—end-user experience and handheld-coverage experience, as well.”

The Adams County initiative is one of many pilots in which Sonim Technologies is participating during this calendar year, although most have not been announced yet, Escalle said.

“We’re in quite a few pilots around the country—different cities and different agencies,” Escalle said. “Sometimes we’re leveraging just our recommended applications on the devices; in others, it’s more of a well-defined approach, where we actually phase in different applications on our device, and they work with current networks and back-end applications servers, which provides them with a very unique, customized pilot experience.”

“You’ll probably see 10 to 12 of those going on through January 2016. They have been identified, and we do have agreements with those agencies in place, so they are definitely moving forward.”