Public safety operators face several trends and challenges that pull them in different directions. They need to keep their customers, the public safety organisations, happy. But this is only one of the challenges...
Public safety operators are under pressure from their governments and taxpayers to be more efficient in their work.
On the other hand, emergency services want to make greater use of applications, which means moving towards broadband data. Broadband services (4G/5G) can make it easier and more efficient to manage units and resources in the field. The major needs here are allocation of tasks to units and efficient communication, both between units and the control room and between units.
Using 4G/5G, it is possible for example to send video from the incident scene to the control room, allowing better decision making.
We’ll also see public safety agencies sharing more information and communicating more frequently than ever before, both between themselves and also with the public.
All this leads to the ever-increasing need for
- new applications
- new features
- new devices and support for those new devices
- new, innovative ways to use existing services.
Yet, at the same time, public safety organizations don’t want to lose the high availability, excellent reliability and uncompromised security of their tried and trusted, mission-critical communications system.
Although keen to meet these needs, public safety operators also need to be confident that any evolution they undertake will be cost-effective.
- Any evolution has to make the best use of scarce site space
- Running costs must be kept in check
- Previous investments must not simply be abandoned.
This means that operators are on the lookout for solutions that can help bridge the gap between existing narrowband networks and future broadband solutions.
Smoother is safer
For public safety operators, it’s typical to adopt the hybrid approach: provide the existing mission-critical voice and data services in one network and broadband data services in another. This is smooth evolution and the safest way, as public safety users simply cannot have interruptions to their services.
Modern mobile networks are built using simple building blocks – radio coverage is achieved with base stations located all over the country, together with a far lower number of switches and servers where most of the intelligence lies. Typically, different base stations – TETRA and 4G/5G base stations for example – can share the same site space but nothing else.
And this creates additional demands for operators: how can they manage these two technologies at the same time?
The two-in-one approach
Operators and network owners can have several approaches to the use of parallel technologies. For example, they might buy the services from mobile operators or let end-users buy it. This creates questions about service levels, priorities and security.
One way to solve all these challenges is to use a hybrid base station, which can support two technologies, for example TETRA and 4G/5G. This can save on maintenance, power consumption and site space, cutting the overall operating costs of the network.
The good news is that there is now a base station that combines both technologies: the TB4 hybrid base station from Airbus. It uses the Nokia AirScale 5G platform and Airbus TETRA and offers the smoothest evolution to mobile broadband. The AirScale platform is also designed for high energy efficiency, making it easier to cut operating costs.
Designed to save site space, each TB4 system module can support up to three TETRA base stations and up to 48 4G/5G cells. The system module acts as a baseband hotel and can be separated from the radio units by several kilometers.
Flexibility is another watchword of the TB4, which offers several options for implementing the site:
- One option is to use an existing indoor cabinet, with all the units inside it.
- The digital unit can also be housed either indoors or outdoors, with the radios outdoors, closer to the antenna.
- There are also numerous vertical and horizontal mounting options for the system module and radio units.
The TB4 hybrid base station is also backwards compatible with any existing Airbus TB3-series base stations there may be on the sites.
Although the move to broadband can be a challenge, the hybrid TB4 makes things much easier with its two-in-one approach.
Learn more about hybrid solutions – watch this expert interview of Markus Kolland from Airbus. In the interview, he explains the revolutionary thinking behind the development of the TB4 hybrid base station.