TCCA Broadband Industry Group Takes Shape

With its formation of a Broadband Industry Group (BIG), the TETRA and Critical Communications Association (TCCA) paves the way for broader engagement of LTE network infrastructure stakeholders. The goal of the new working group is gain infrastructure vendor cooperation in the development of common global critical communications solutions. 

The move is important because tension exists among ecosystem players focused on narrowband Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) technology and players rushing towards mission critical LTE systems. For PMR-focused companies, the shift to broadband represents an existential threat to future network infrastructure business. LTE equipment suppliers see unmet needs across industry sectors that rely on critical communications, requirements that can be readily addressed with mission critical LTE systems coming on the market.  The pressure is growing, mainly because governments struggling with challenging public safety missions demand the broader functionality offered by mobile broadband deployments.  By engaging with the suppliers building the vast majority of LTE networks in operation today, the TCCA can speed resolution of the tensions and shape a viable long-term strategy that makes optimal use of narrowband and broadband technologies.

While commendable, the formation of a committee is not a guarantee of success. Curiously, only two LTE infrastructure players are noted in the press release, Ericsson and Nokia. There may be other participants, but the lack of Huawei's name suggests a major industry supplier is not part of the discussion. It is important that TCCA flesh out the membership of the group, potentially expanding the group to include mobile network operators that serve the public safety community. 

I am looking forward to hearing more about the group's membership and, just as important, its terms of reference. What exactly does gaining cooperation with the infrastructure suppliers mean? It will also be good to understand how the TCCA's long-standing Critical Communications Broadband Group factors into future progress. To what extent do these two working groups operate in silos?

There is momentum around the world towards mission critical LTE networks serving public safety, transport, mining, utilities and other vital sectors. Establishing a coherent forum that brings together diverse viewpoints from all stakeholders can lead to a harmonized future delivering essential capabilities that solve real problems.