“By successfully demonstrating Alcatel-Lucent’s Public Safety LTE solution with standards based priority and pre-emption functionality, we are taking another tremendous step toward providing essential capabilities required by public safety organizations, along with interoperability with other LTE systems. Alcatel-Lucent has long been addressing the communications needs of first responders, and this testing with NIST of priority and pre-emption functionality will be a critical part of preparing for the FirstNet network.” said Wim Brouwer, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent’s FirstNet team.
The work was done in conjunction with the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, a joint effort of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that coordinates interoperability testing and standards development for the nationwide public safety LTE network being created for the US by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). This demonstration of priority and pre-emption capabilities is a critical part of developing LTE for public safety as it enables smooth, prioritized ultra-broadband connections for first responders at the scene of an emergency.
The technology enables public safety authorities to prioritize access and bandwidth usage based on the role of a first responder as more first responders arrive at the scene. For example, in a fire requiring a response from multiple crews, the incident commander could be assigned a higher priority to ensure unbroken real-time video delivery as more first responders arrive at the scene. If required, sessions of lower priority users can be pre-empted to assure higher priority users can send or receive the information they need.
Priority access and the ability to leverage access priorities during incidents is specifically identified by FirstNet as a key guiding principle in establishing a nationwide interoperable public safety network. A standards-based priority capability is present but not operational in U.S. commercial LTE networks. This demonstration achieves an important milestone by confirming the availability of a feature critical to FirstNet’s ability to deploy a national broadband network with the USD $7 billion of funding provided in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.
The successful demonstration of these capabilities also hightlights the fact that the need for first responders to have the appropriate levels of bandwidth whenever and wherever it is required can be supported through Public Private Partnerships that enable spectrum sharing, if priority and pre-emption capabilities can be effectively implemented.