Harris-AT&T alliance continues partnership trend
This week, commercial wireless giant AT&T and longtime public-safety communications vendor Harris announced an alliance that is designed to bring next-generation LTE solutions to the first-responder sector. (Click here for related video.) It’s not the first such agreement, but the existence of the new partnership should be welcomed by public-safety entities seeking choices and competition in this nascent market.
It an alliance that is logical, as both entities bring critical components to the arrangement. AT&T knows commercial technology well and is expected to deploy LTE networks sometime next year, while Harris has long been a leader in the public-safety communication market in the private LMR voice world.
“They understand the [public-safety] market,” Mobeen Khan, executive director for AT&T’s advanced mobility solutions, said of Harris.
AT&T and Harris likely will not announce many product offerings until the second quarter of 2012, but officials for both companies are looking at solutions roadmaps that will leverage best-of-breed offerings from each other and potentially other partners in the future, Khan said.
Earlier this year, Motorola and Verizon announced a similar arrangement. Predictably, that alliance has more tangible offerings and plans for public-safety entities to consider at the moment. However, given the fact that there are no more than a handful of early public-safety LTE networks that are expected to be deployed during the next several months, AT&T and Harris should not be harmed materially by offering solutions a little later.
One concern some public-safety industry observers had with working with AT&T was the location of its 700 MHz spectrum. While the Verizon 700 MHz airwaves are located near the public-safety broadband swath, the AT&T spectrum in the lower part of the 700 MHz band — a circumstance that some believed would be detrimental to AT&T’s ability to serve the public-safety market.
With modern technological advances, such concerns are a myth, Khan said.
“Multi-frequency and multiprotocol devices have been working in the market for a long period of time,” he said. “With the processing speeds and the radio capabilities, that’s really a problem that’s been solved … so that’s really not an issue.”
If that’s the case, it’s good news for the public-safety market. Having the choice of multiple alliances from trusted carriers and vendors is exactly what the first-responder sector needs as it prepares to embrace LTE capabilities. Hopefully, this partnership trend will continue with other similar alliances, so there is greater choice and competition in market.
What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.