Butler County, PA’s radio system was facing end-of-life and had begun to experience reduced reliability. As a county the requires reliable mission-critical communications for 60 first responder agencies, it is crucial that the County’s land mobile radio (LMR) system, and the network supporting it, be available whenever and wherever it needs to be. In addition to decreased reliability the system also faced several other challenges that led the County to make the decision to replace it, including:
Nick Falgiatore, an MCP subject-matter expert from the radio and wireless team and a 2017 recipient of the IWCE Young Professional award, investigated a key question on the minds of many public safety officials last month in an Above Ground Level (agl) Magazine article.
The article, “What’s the Future of Land Mobile Radio in a FirstNet World?”, discusses how the nationwide broadband network being implemented by FirstNet will eventually provide mission-critical voice, but predicts that it’s a long way off. As a result, public safety officials should consider not only investing in—but also replacing, when appropriate—their land mobile radio (LMR) system.
For a while now, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has been describing the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) that it is implementing in partnership with AT&T as a “mission-critical” communications network for public safety. And it is entirely possible that the network will live up to its promise. But that is not the type of thing that the public safety sector will accept on face value—it is going to need proof. That’s just the way it is in public safety, a sector where lives are on the line and seconds count, every day.
A myriad of commercial push to talk application options exist for public safety users, and for good reason. There are many benefits that can be realized by interfacing an existing mission critical land mobile radio system with a commercial push to talk service. You can read all about these benefits on our earlier post, “What is commercial push to talk technology and why does it matter for your public safety land mobile radio strategy?”
Or you can download our free whitepaper on this topic, “The Case for Push to Talk Technology in Public Safety.”
In this post, we will summarize what’s available in commercial mission critical technology, provide some detail around how the solutions work and what their advantages and disadvantages are.
At a very basic level, there are essentially three classes of PTT apps that integrate with LMR systems.
- LMR-based – Apps that are available from traditional LMR vendors such as those that are provided by Motorola Solutions and Harris Corporation
- Carrier-integrated – Apps that are available from commercial wireless carriers
- Third-party – Apps that are available from third party providers
Mission-critical communication technologies have evolved at a dramatic pace in the last several years, leaving public safety leaders trying to evaluate what’s available, how it functions with other technologies, and how it can augment their existing systems.
One of those emerging technologies is commercial push-to-talk (PTT) functionality.
Commercial PTT functionality already has proven extremely valuable to public works, utilities, transportation, schools, etc. Within the public safety industry, and with our clients, we’re starting to see greater opportunities for it to integrate with traditional land mobile radio (LMR).
In this post, we’ll talk more about PTT technology and how it could directly benefit first responders. (If you want an in-depth look at this technology and how it’s impacting our industry, download our free whitepaper on this topic.)