Public safety networks: Using the LTE network for life or death

Hurricane Sandy, which has battered the East Coast and caused an estimated $55 billion worth of damage, has underlined the need for serious investment in the LTE public safety network. It has been reported that government bodies resorted to using Twitter to issue evacuation orders and updates, because of the damage caused to the communications networks. The New York Fire Department’s (NYFD) phone lines jammed, prompting locals to tweet the NYFD instead.

Rapid-response scenarios such as these require a fast solution. Speedier communications between emergency services, in the form of an LTE network, provides them with exactly that. During the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the emergency services that were called to the World Trade Center were unable to coordinate their efforts as the radio communications between various agencies were discordant. This resulted in redundant searches being made for civilians who were caught up in the attacks on the twin towers.

Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana in 2005, also highlighted the need for a smarter network in critical situations. The communications infrastructure in and around New Orleans was partially destroyed by the hurricane, aggravating the already acute situation. Telecommunications, in particular mobile phones, were left redundant and the Internet proved useless in the attempts to restore order. Emergency services resorted to erecting a temporary communications hub at a hotel in downtown New Orleans, illustrating the lack of preparation and the technological drought that key services were subjected to.

The situation could have been vastly different if there had been an advanced technological infrastructure in place. Better communications would have led to better organisation and rescue attempts would have been made with better understanding.

Aricent and Adax LTE-EPC ‘Network in a Box’ for public safety networks, EPC test solutions, rural networks, in-building networks and LTE offload solutions

Thankfully, the age of distorted radio communication is fading away and the next-generation LTE network offers a wide range of possibilities; not just for the consumer but also for institutions that are dependent on fast and uninterruptible lines of communication. The LTE network may prove to be the difference between life and death.

LTE networks enable faster, more efficient communications and its mobile broadband capabilities can deliver numerable benefits for public safety networks. New applications and faster data sharing, which improves access to people, documents and information, will ensure that public-safety institutions can be more responsive with a greater access to real-time data.

The potential of the LTE network for services reliant on public safety networks doesn’t end with faster communications. The ability to share video transmissions with the command center, access building plans and support license plate recognition systems gives these services a new dimension to emergency communications.

The flatter architecture of LTE networks means that a highly portable communications network can now be shipped out to the disaster zone in question for rapid deployment. This ensures that emergency services can communicate with one another, irrespective of the damage to local power and infrastructure.

There are comprehensive LTE core network solutions available for the LTE evolved packet core (EPC). These highly scalable and cost-effective solutions can support up to 50,000 subscribers, which can be extended to 200,000 for certain circumstances. They will allow operators to own and operate the network they require for specific scenarios.

In the case of a natural or man-made disaster, the reliability of strong communications is paramount. The LTE network has the potential to radicalise the way in which emergency services respond to grave situations and the speeds of communication that the LTE network offers could mean the difference between life and death.



Andrew (Drew) Sproul is currently director of marketing at Adax, Inc. During his 20+ year career in telecom, Drew has held management positions in sales and marketing at Adax, Trillium, and ObjectStream. Drew has a BA in human services from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.




Contact Information

Adax, Inc.

2900 Lakeshore Ave
Oakland, CA, 94610

tele: 510-548-7047
fax: 510-548-5526

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