Push to Talk (MCPTT) Services for First Responders

As the professional Mobile Communications world grapples with determining the direction for land mobile networks, a small but growing number of mission critical network managers are looking to Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) services for LTE offering Push-to-Talk Over- Cellular (PoC) as an enticing offering for non-public safety needs.  Aging analog LMR (Land Mobile Radio) infrastructure needing replacement or significant upgrades, coupled with limited financial resources make PTT services attractive. MCPTT will likely gain more traction as services meeting 3GPP standard are rolled out beginning in 2017. 

Mission Critical Push to TalkMany states are facing the decision to replace aging analog LMR systems with enhanced push-to-talk (PTT) service.   It is felt that thhis decision will save millions in upfront costs annually. While cost is often cited, along with improved services and coverage now afforded by commercial carriers, the nagging question about the reliability of commercial networks, particularly during periods of crisis and recovery, should give government managers reason to be pursue MCPTT cautiously.  

Key LMR decision makers are treading carefully not to fall victim to public relations nightmares caused by communications failures impacting their control and command during the most critical times-in an emergency. Commercial carriers are driven by profit, and while their prices and services look attractive, trends in commercial network design and operation may place significant emphasis on cost reduction.   The main requirement for any LMR network is reliability, thus finding the right fit for both technology and public safety is a key element for consideration.

3GPP standards body has approved the components of MCPTT over LTE, FirstNet deployment as part of LTE Release 13.   This standard will have global implications for not only the US but other countries including South Korea and the UK.

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