Motorola: Commercial release of public-safety LTE set for November (with related video)
Public-safety entities will be able to purchase Motorola Solutions 700 MHz LTE networking and device gear beginning next month, the vendor giant announced today at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Chicago.
"On Nov. 11, 2011, Motorola will announce that we're going to be fully commercially released with our first version of public-safety LTE, with everything fully integrated," said Rick Keith, director of product management for Motorola Solutions. "To the industry, it might just seem like a new thing coming out. But to public safety as a whole, LTE is their next step. I don't think anybody has officially announced the release yet of a commercial version of LTE on Band 14 [700 MHz broadband spectrum reserved for public-safety use] for the U.S. market, so we're proud to be there first."
Motorola will use Ericsson LTE base-station equipment that has completed the first-phase testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), according to Keith. In addition, Motorola has established a roaming arrangement with Verizon Wireless — the commercial carrier with the largest LTE network in the U.S. — so public-safety users can continue to leverage a broadband wireless network when a private public-safety LTE network is unavailable.
Keith said the alliances with Ericsson and Verizon have been crucial to developing an end-to-end LTE solution at such an early stage.
"I don't think we would have gotten there without the overwhelming support we've received from Ericsson and Verizon Wireless," he said, noting that the Motorola system will operate according to the 3GPP Release 9 standard.
Initially, this networking infrastructure will be accessed by first responders in the field through the Motorola VML700 vehicular modem and the UM1000 USB data modem. Motorola plans to introduce handheld devices next year, Keith said.
One aspect of public-safety 700 MHz deployment that has been the subject of considerable debate have been the possibility of Congress reallocating the 700 MHz D Block — the 10 MHz of spectrum adjacent to public safety's existing broadband spectrum in the band — for first-responder use, which would double the spectral foundation for the proposed LTE network nationwide. Entities deploying Motorola LTE networks early will not have to pay for additional hardware to make the transition, if public safety gets the D Block, Keith said.
"All the equipment and hardware — from the base sites all the way to the devices — is software upgradeable to 2×10 MHz instead of 2 x 5 MHz," he said.
Another hot topic surrounding the LTE deployments is the notion that non-public-safety entities — notably, other government departments and critical-infrastructure enterprises such as utilities — should be allowed to use the network on a secondary basis. Motorola's solution is designed to support such arrangements, Keith said.