LTE-capable P25 radios from L3Harris receive FirstNet Ready certification
CHICAGO—L3Harris Technologies today announced that its XL-185P and XL-200P portable P25 radios that also support LTE connectivity have been designated as FirstNet Ready and certified for use on the AT&T commercial network after extensive testing, meaning the 700 MHz Band 14 capability in the devices can be used.
Nino DiCosmo, president of L3Harris Technologies’ public-safety and professional communications unit, said that having the two portable radios receive the FirstNet Ready designation is a significant step in the company’s long-term goal to create an open ecosystem of solutions for the first-responder community.
“From our perspective, we see broadband coming in and bringing a tremendous amount of value to public safety and first responders,” DiCosmo said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We want to be part of the transition [associated with] the way LMR and broadband converge, in order to deliver solutions to those users.
“We think it’s a great thing. We’re excited about what they’re trying to accomplish. I think they’re making good progress in that mission as they ramp up their user base. They’re a big partner of ours, and we meet with them on a regular basis.”
In 2015, Harris—which merged with L3 this year to form L3Harris Technologies—introduced the XL-200P, a multiband P25 portable radio. The following year, the company announced that the XL-200P also would support LTE communications on 700 MHz Band 13 commercial spectrum licensed to Verizon and Band 14 spectrum licensed to the FirstNet Authority, which had just officially announced AT&T as its contractor to build and maintain the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).
However, the Band 14 capabilities in the XL-200P—and the XL-185P, the single-band version of the P25 radio—largely have gone unused, because the radio had not been approved for use on the FirstNet system. That is no longer an issue with today’s FirstNet Ready announcement for the devices, signifying the conclusion of extensive testing on the radios.
“This is huge for L3Harris,” Jeremy Elder, director of product management for L3Harris Technologies’ public-safety and professional communications unit, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “This is a critical part of our plans going forward. It’s a critical need for our customer base, to be able to interoperate and access the nation’s public-safety network.
“Clearly, this is a very important announcement for us and should give you some insight into where we’re going as a company, working in this broadband world and introducing this ecosystem of partners.”
Jayne Leighton, director of AT&T/FirstNet business unit at L3Harris Technologies, echoed this sentiment.
“I think this is some of the most exciting news that we’ll ever be hearing. It’s been long time in coming,” Leighton said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “L3Harris is a believer of FirstNet and very supportive of its mission.”
Bob Sloan, AT&T’s chief operating officer (COO) for the FirstNet program, expressed enthusiasm about the ability for the two L3Harris Technologies portable radios to enable access to the FirstNet system.
“We’re pleased to welcome these devices to the FirstNet ecosystem. With the XL-185P and the XL-200P, first responders that prefer the radio form factor can now benefit from the data-rich information and increased situational awareness that FirstNet delivers without sacrificing their choice in device,” Sloan said in a prepared statement. “The more innovative tools and technologies that public safety has access to on their network, the more we can empower them to confidently select that option that best meets their needs to help them accomplish their mission more efficiently and effectively.”
Elder noted that the XL-185 and the XL-200P radios support operation on myriad bands in the AT&T network, as well as the Band 14 airwaves that AT&T is leveraging as part of its 25-year agreement with the FirstNet Authority. These P25 radios also are certified on the Verizon network and support dual SIMs, so users can take advantage of the network with the highest-quality signal at a given time, he said.
“It’s definitely a win-win for our customers,” Elder said. “What we did was we brought the opportunity for the customers to make their own decisions. If they want to go with FirstNet, because that’s the future for the national public-safety communications network, [they can]. If they decide that they don’t like the coverage they have in their locations, and they want to go with Verizon, they can do that, too. Or, they can rely on LMR as a backup.”
Push-to-talk voice using the LTE connectivity is delivered through the L3Harris BeOn application, although 3GPP-standard mission-critical-push-to-talk (MCPTT) service “is on our roadmap,” Elder said. Most data applications associated with the radios also utilize the BeOn application today, although the devices can function as a Wi-Fi hotspot that enable the use of other types of applications, he said.
Both Elder and DiCosmo noted that L3Harris Technologies is exploring a variety of data-application solutions that leverage broadband capabilities provided by FirstNet.
“We believe that FirstNet is really important to the future of mission-critical communications,” DiCosmo said. “We’re spending a lot of time with them, in a very thoughtful way. It’s a good relationship, where we both see value in the partnership, so we’re really excited about it.
“We’re going to continue that collaboration, and we’re talking about other solutions with them that go beyond just voice—can I stream data, can I stream video, can I stream bio [biometric] information? We’re thinking about all of that stuff. Some of it’s in active development, so we can’t talk about it now, but we’re excited about the future with FirstNet.”
L3Harris Technologies will display the FirstNet Ready XL-185P and XL-200P portable radios in Booth #2618 at the IACP 2019 this week in Chicago.