Motorola Solutions, Sierra Wireless team to deliver integrated in-vehicle LTE broadband solutions
Motorola Solutions and Sierra Wireless today announced that the companies plan to develop integrated solutions that utilized in-vehicle routers from Sierra Wireless to provide the LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity that first responders need to support bandwidth-intensive applications like securely sharing pictures and real-time video.
At the heart of the integration efforts today are the AirLink MG90 and MP70 LTE-A Pro routers that are FirstNet Ready and work on any commercial broadband network, delivering either LTE or Wi-Fi connectivity to a first-responder vehicle, which also can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot for the surrounding area.
Anatoly Delm, Motorola Solutions’ director of global market for devices and infrastructure, said that one example of the collaboration between the companies is that some Motorola Solutions APX-series P25 radios automatically will be able to leverage the in-vehicle broadband connectivity from Sierra Wireless to accelerate certain key functions.
“We have developed a capability of connecting our radio to that router,” Delm said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Through this collaboration between the radio and the router, we offload some of the data that ordinarily we might send over something like P25. Instead, that data would go over LTE.
“If you need to send a firmware update, a code plug or something like that [to the radio]—where it’s possible to send it over P25, and we’ll certainly do that—it’s certainly a lot quicker to do it over broadband. The officer doesn’t have to do anything to make that happen; once it’s all connected in the vehicle, that happens automatically. So, some of the heavier dated is offloaded from P25 onto LTE.”
In addition, the Sierra Wireless connectivity supports other functions, including location presence, text messaging and rekeying the radio, Delm said.
Of course, teaming with Sierra Wireless lets Motorola Solutions deliver broadband solutions to first responders in the field, Delm said.
“Those routers are being incorporated into public-safety vehicles, and we’re working with them [Sierra Wireless] to turn that into a solution,” he said. “The routers are broadband. They’re connecting to LTE, so all of your expected LTE functions are going to happen through those.
“When the patrol car, fire apparatus or other vehicle arrives on the scene, they can set up a small Wi-Fi coverage area, and all of the Wi-Fi devices can connect to the router. The backhaul could be FirstNet or any number of other LTE carriers.”
Tom Mueller, vice president of product line management at Sierra Wireless, said the company’s in-vehicle routers not only provide broadband connectivity in and around the vehicle, but they also can provide command staff with a better understanding about situations in the field.
“Those [Airlink routers] are essentially complex pieces of cellular networking gear that not only provide communication to and from the police office, if you will, to the vehicle, but it also provides local Wi-Fi connections, so that—while the officers are in and around the vehicle—they can maintain communications,” Mueller said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
“The gateways also are a source of a lot of information about the current state of affairs on the ground. We have sensors in those routers that allow the head office to understand where the vehicle is, how fast the vehicle is traveling, whether emergency lights are on, whether doors are open, whether gun racks are empty or if the weapons are still in place. So, it provides not only the networking capability but a lot of situational context in and around the vehicle.”
A key feature of the Sierra Wireless routers is their ability to implement an agency’s policies regarding the best path for certain types of packets—whether it involves the lowest cost or best available throughput—automatically in the field, according to Mueller.
“We have complex routing rules to make the least-cost connection, monitor the signal strength—whether it’s Wi-Fi or cellular—and, depending on where a vehicle is, change the behavior of how the network connections are managed,” he said. “That’s really the secret sauce that comes with the Sierra Wireless gateways.”
Sierra Wireless officials are “very excited” to be collaborating with Motorola Solutions, Mueller said.
“Motorola Solutions has a lot of integration experience—they build end-to-end system for public-safety organizations,” he said. “With this agreement, the Sierra Wireless gateways and routers will become an integral part of the solutions that Motorola builds.”
Motorola Solutions and Sierra Wireless plan to develop new solutions, but those areas are not being revealed at this time, according to Mueller.
“This is all based on commercially available technologies, both from Sierra Wireless and Motorola Solutions,” Mueller said. “This is an announcement about the formalization of the relationship. We will be developing additional features over time.”