CCW 2018 Points the Way to Emerging Opportunities for Mobile Network Operators

Part 1 in a series of reflections in the lead-up to Critical Communications World 2018

With Critical Communications World (CCW) 2018 rapidly approaching, we are taking the coming weeks to reflect on some of the big issues that will be front-and-center at the annual exhibition and conference. Over the twenty year history of CCW, much of the focus was on establishing TETRA as the professional mobile radio (PMR) technology of choice for mission-critical voice and data communications. This year, however, marks a turning point for CCW's parent as the TCCA moves to supplement TETRA communications with high-capacity mobile broadband data capabilities built on LTE networking. 

While debates continue to rage about the potential of shifting mission-critical voice communications to LTE, the benefits of incorporating robust mobile broadband networking into the communications toolkit are well-understood by stakeholders in government. CCW 2018 will bring these stakeholders as well as supporting ecosystem partners from across industry together for in-depth discussions on the future of public safety communications around the globe. This combination makes CCW 2018 an essential destination for those planning for the future of mobile network operator enterprise services. 

The timing of CCW 2018 is particularly important for mobile network operators. Terror attacks and natural disasters prompted security officials around the globe to look aggressively at LTE technology. By augmenting voice-centric TETRA communications with mobile broadband networks, these officials can deliver better incident command tools that increase situational awareness. Mobile network operators need to take advantage of CCW 2018 to engage with these potential customers and explore their requirements. 

Mobile networks today offer best-effort IP data services to serve both consumer and enterprise customers. Fortunately, the continued evolution of LTE technology provides quality of service and access barring tools that serve to protect select traffic streams during times of network congestion. These tools have made possible the FirstNet service offers delivered by AT&T in the US as well as the planned UK Emergency Services Network hosted on EE. An opportunity now exists for other operators around the world to engage and initiate new classes of service offers that cater to business-critical and mission-critical needs of demanding enterprises.

CCW 2018 stands as an ideal venue for mobile network operator strategy planners to explore this opportunity in depth. Aside from conference sessions featuring governmental leaders, the exhibition floor hosts a wide range of vendors ready to add different perspectives on the opportunities and challenges. Just as important, the one-on-one networking that is possible at the conference helps open direct lines of communication between MNO planners and government agency officials. 

To be sure, mission-critical voice communications will continue to remain centered around TETRA for the coming years. But interoperable mission-critical push-to-talk (MC-PTT) over LTE is making progress thanks to continued efforts across the industry. Some users, such as frontline police and fire personnel may remain on hardened TETRA systems, but many secondary users can safely rely on MC-PTT devices. As a result, we expect an increasing volume of MC-PTT traffic to shift toward mobile networks offering mission-critical service with quality of service and priority functionality. When coupled with the benefits yielded by mission-critical mobile broadband data, LTE will rise as the dominant networking platform serving public safety organizations. Mobile network operators aiming for highly competitive enterprise service offerings will recognize CCW 2018 as a crucial opportunity to explore and understand the market.