Mission-Critical Communications: The Next Step for Mobile Broadband Systems

Yossi Segal  |

Unlike conventional fixed broadband systems, mobile broadband systems provide internet service through wireless communications from the server. With technologies like 3G, 4G and LTE constantly delivering greater features and enhancements, wireless broadband communications can nowprovide greater mobile broadband Internet access, including on laptops with wireless modems, smart phones and other mobile devices, in addition to the usual voice applications.These advanced features set new standards for mobile broadband service providers. As a result, there is a constant rise in demand for high-speed wireless broadband and reliable networks for both commercial uses as well as for mission-critical communications. While mobile broadband systems depend on existing communications infrastructure provided by telecommunication and service providers, mission-critical communications often do not, and therefore bring greater value to relevant markets.

Mission-critical communications is often defined as the ability to deliver communication where conventional networks cannot meet the required demands. This often happens in large public events, where thousands of mobile users all use the network at once, and most public communications networks cannot handle such intensity, leading to their collapse. Another example would be disaster-stricken areas or public safety incidents where conventional mobile networks, again, collapse, leaving onsite first responders without any means of communications. Mission-critical communications are also relevant for the oil and gas market, coast guard, homeland security applications, transportation, unmanned vehicles, among other uses.

A Growing Need for Communication Enhancements

Two main factors will continue to contribute to the rise in demand for mission-critical communications:

The natural growing demand for communications enhancements, including HD video on handheld devices for the law enforcement market, oil and gas and tactical communications, which again will deliver the required communications, regardless of any existing or non-existing communications infrastructure.

The second factor is due to global rise in terrorism. Public safety has taken center stage for most governments and municipalities. Assuring public safety requires the collaboration of multiple organizations, including emergency management agencies, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, rescue squads, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Currently, public safety organizations are frustrated by the limitations of narrowband data over their dedicated networks. This collaboration greatly depends on the ability to communicate in disaster stricken areas via multiple means, including HD video, data and VoIP, overcoming N-LOS (non-line-of-sight) environment. We know that the public safety operators (PSOs), which is the largest market sector, is leading efforts to win dedicated LTE standards that will include advanced voice and video features.

Terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) voice will coexist with LTE for at least years in many markets. Standardized interoperability with IP however is essential for backward compatibility and any future transition to mission critical communications MESH based solutions.    

North America seems to be a growing market for mobile broadband for mission critical communications. This is due to the growing demand from the oil and gas industries. The Asia-Pacific region, due to increasing industry in countries such as China, Japan and South Korea is also expected to show a high rate of growth, and Europe will follow accordingly.

It seems that in the near future, we will be seeing a growing demand for mission-critical communications, and suppliers must be ready to deliver the highest level of reliability, coverage, flexibility and functionality.

Yossi Segal is the Co-Founder& VP of Research and Development for Mobilicom


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