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Nokia, Intel, Ericsson collaborate for US public safety LTE network tender

Funkgerte in einem Einsatzfahrzeug der Feuerwehr

Nokia and Ericsson are among a consortium of companies bidding to build a fifth LTE network in the US, with the aim of providing full connectivity for public safety, the first of its kind in the country.

With partners including Ericsson, Intel Security, Nokia and Fujitsu Network Communications; Rivada Mercury is bidding for the tender with government public safety communications authority FirstNet to develop a fully LTE-enabled wireless network for critical communications purposes.

In the US public safety communications market, the P25 network protocol has been the de facto standard for radio communications, similar to the TETRA standard in Europe. While LTE has threatened to eventually overtake radio for critical communications infrastructure, concerns still exist over its reliability and flexibility for imperative communications in disaster or emergency situations.

As part of the public safety industry’s evolution towards IP communications, where data analytics can provide far greater insight than radio, hybrid LTE/radio models have been emerging recently.  FirstNet is a government entity tasked with building a cost-effective nationwide IP-based network which can suitably provide wireless LTE coverage to all public safety agencies. To support its effort, FirstNet has secured government funding as well as guaranteed spectrum in the 700 MHz band.

The Rivada Mercury partnership is likely to be rivalled by Motorola Solutions, which currently dominates the P25 network space and would most probably see the FirstNet tender as a battle worth fighting in order to secure future revenues.

“The Rivada Mercury team is comprised of proven technology companies – each leaders in their field with unmatched technology capabilities and experience serving the public safety community with innovative and forward-leaning solutions,” said Joe Euteneuer, CEO, Rivada Mercury. “Our team’s approach to FirstNet offers many benefits for America’s public safety community, namely we will provide public safety with a purpose-built Band 14 network and immediate turn-key access to the largest non-Band 14 coverage footprint in the U.S.”

In order to support its wireless attempts, Rivada will also be reliant on a major carrier whose core network can provide connectivity to the LTE RAN. That partner is yet to be announced, but it will be one of the country’s big four – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint. The winning bidder for the tender will be announced in Q4 2016.

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