Band 68 spectrum: a lifeline for public safety services in Europe
After more than a decade of laying the groundwork for public safety broadband spectrum and mission-critical communication services in Europe, Ericsson together with leading industry players Crosscall, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and Streamwide will demonstrate live how these services can be deployed on a wide scale using Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) Band 68.
The live demo will take place at Critical Communications World 2023 (CCW 2023) event on May 23-25. It will showcase how mission-critical services (MCX) can be deployed in a multivendor environment using radio base stations and core network from Ericsson, devices from French smartphone maker Crosscall equipped with Qualcomm QCM6490 chipsets, and applications and services from Streamwide, one of the leading MCX vendors in the market.
Following World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-2015) and subsequent European regulation, the lower 2 x 5MHz segment of Band 68 has been reserved for PPDR agencies in Europe. To date, a growing number of European countries are targeting the band for nationwide or regional coverage, as well as situations requiring rapid deployable network solutions or air-to-ground coverage. This option of having a supplementary layer of dedicated connectivity now offers first responders with additional resilience and capacity to supplement that provided to them by a commercial operator.
Manuel Ruiz, Head of Mission Critical at Ericsson, says: “This live demo will give attendees at CCW 2023 a unique opportunity to see how far we and the wider industry have come in terms of developing an ecosystem for mission-critical communications systems enabled by PPDR Band 68 in Europe. With this added layer of dedicated connectivity for wide-area coverage and deployable systems, mission-critical services for first responders will be more available, more resilient and more dependable.”
Growing support for PPDR Band 68 ecosystem
Prior to the live demo, Ericsson and Qualcomm successfully tested the compatibility of the QCM6490 chipset and radio access network equipment using Band 68. The collaboration for the demo expanded to include Crosscall, which offers durable smartphones for hostile and unpredictable environments, and Streamwide, which offers reliable device applications, services and solutions that deliver advanced voice over IP (VoIP), mission-critical push-to-talk and next-generation (MCX) services.
There is now a critical mass of network, device and chipset vendors forming to support the PPDR B68 ecosystem. Deployment scenarios for this band are known, and discussions on future standardization items such as carrier aggregation combinations and 5G NR support are underway.
“This is a major milestone for the entire industry, as it signals to the user community that they can migrate safely and smoothly from their existing narrowband networks to 3GPP standardized technologies and macro networks,” Ruiz says. “This will allow them to take advantage of everything this broader ecosystem has to offer, such as gaining greater insight and control, and making decisions based on heightened situational awareness which, in turn, will make them better able to save lives.”
The solution that will be demoed at the Ericsson booth differs from existing offerings in that it is designed to operate over a wide area such as several provinces or indeed nationwide, rather than a single location.
The demo will show how this ecosystem collaboration on PPDR B68 can further support services such as real-time video streaming for situational awareness about an accident or major incident. Ericsson will also present other use cases at CCW 2023 that illustrate the journey to mission-critical 4G and 5G, including air-ground coverage, 5G-enabled virtual control rooms, the security automation center, and a cellular network failover solution.
Ericsson, through its technology leadership in 3GPP, provides innovative mission-critical mobile broadband network solutions to service providers either by leveraging their existing infrastructure assets or offering scalable and tailor-made solutions from deployable networks through to nationwide networks. These solutions enable service providers to deliver secure, resilient, and high-performance mobile communications to public safety, defense, rail, and utility organizations.