Altran recently hosted a webinar titled Leveraging LTE to address opportunities in the area of Public Safety, Rural Networks and other specific industry segments. The webinar provided exhaustive insights into the market dynamics of niche markets such as public safety, rural and enterprises along with detailed description of the functionalities and features needed in a LTE core solution to cater to these markets. Given the huge number of questions asked we were not able to answer every one of them live, so we’ve addressed others that we didn’t get to below.
You can also view the archived version of the webinar
You mentioned about prioritization in in-campus networks. What do you mean by priority in these networks and how do you achieve that?
In-campus solutions need priority for various reasons such as business users may use the network for video and multimedia calls, if these are high priority “deal making” calls, they would need higher priority whereas an application that sends data to enterprises for regular updates may take lower priority. Some non-real time applications like emails can take lower priority compared to real time applications like voice and video calls. Higher grade employees and meetings with higher grade members may require higher priority compared to lower grade members. Prioritization is also required between locations of access. Enterprise access may have lower priority compared to external access. Priority of applications may also vary depending on the time when it is accessed. Hence in-campus environment required a lot of prioritization.
Prioritization can be achieved using complex policy management at PCRF. Some policies can also be passed on to UE so that UE can access it at the defined priority instead of loading the networks.
There are many countries wanting 700 MHz for commercial networks. Do you think this would affect public safety deployments which also require same spectrum?
Commercial providers want 700 MHz for good in-building penetration. In fact recently a provider was asked to move away from LTE only because the government of that country was not ready to offer 700MHz for commercial usage. Operators accrue huge cost savings when using this spectrum because the number of eNodebs needed in a network is minimized.
On other hand where there are commercial LTE deployments in this band, a different class of spectrum is being used for public safety as compared to commercial deployments.
How easy is it to integrate Altran solution to any customer’s specialized applications?
Altran’s EPC offering complies with standard 3GPP specifications for all its external interfaces enabling quick interworking with customer’s voice/media/data IMS/PMR applications. It also has well defined interfaces to integrate with external DPI engines, proprietary algorithms and external management frameworks.
Do you have a reference COTS platform today?
Yes. Altran has reference COTS platform over Adax ATCA packet runner and on other form factors like Rack mount servers from Dell and HP.
Why do you think, 3G networks have not been able to capture the rural networks and why do you think LTE would not undergo the same problem in rural markets?
3G data networks lack the level of latency provided by LTE networks. Hence with 3G data networks, providing voice support is very difficult. So in order to support both voice and data, one needs both 3G data and CS networks. This brings in additional network node requirements. Moreover since CS networks are not “all IP” they require higher level of maintenance and redundancy path which is highly complex. Thus cost of laying down 3G networks as primary network for rural areas is very costly. With LTE networks, these issues are not present. Hence we feel LTE networks are more suitable for rural environment.
Are there any successful/profitable business models that leverage LTE for public safety applications that you are aware of?
There are many successful public safety applications that we are aware of. These are very proprietary to specific deployments. These applications help in services meant for public safety for e.g., in case of fire, informing the firemen, in case of defense, informing the field personnel by general in command, and providing information from field. Details of the applications cannot be revealed, but many multi-media applications are possible.
We are a rural carrier. In rural areas to provide a 4Mbit download speed at distances of 13Km, an external antenna will be required. What CPE is available at Band 12 that will provide this?
We are sorry and cannot address specific equipment needed for specific bandwidths. Mostly we have seen that the operators request specific handsets for these niche areas, so that frequency band and applications can be made adaptable for that specific network
What spectrum band is likely to be used for Public Safety LTE outside the US? E.g. in the Middle East or Asia Pacific Region?
We feel that in Asia pacific region, the 700MHz band is going to be used for public safety usage specifically in India.
Is there support of LTE for public safety markets outside of North America similar to the APCO support?
Yes, many countries are planning to use LTE for public safety. Many European countries and developing countries in Asia-pacific are considering LTE for public safety, mainly due to the advantages that LTE offers for this market.
Is LTE’s inherent security as secure as today’s Public Safety Radio networks like TETRA ?
Today’s Public safety networks offer additional security over and above what the 3G networks offer. In similar manner to offer additional security for LTE, operators are planning to use additional security mechanism, like separate frequency band, additional algorithms for ciphering and authentication etc., to offer better security in public safety networks. Application level security is additional functionality that is being considered by public safety vendors.
In rural markets, what is the average cost for deployment of LTE networks, given that, as you mentioned CAPEX is lesser?
As was discussed in the presentation, the advantage of rural markets is that it can start deployment with low end solution with EPC hardware cost as low as few 1000 dollars and can be scaled to higher level as more and more subscribers and additional value added applications are introduced.
For rural markets that cover a large geographic area but with a low density of users it seems there would need to be standards modifications to support higher power transmissions to enable covering larger areas with fewer base sites; true?
It depends on the kind of rural areas. Sometimes larger areas may not be covered even by increasing power transmissions due to other blockages. Moreover, the main requirement that we see is to have single EPC covering wider areas, but eNodeBs can still be heavily distributed. We believe that the areas covered by eNodeB as per standard is sufficient enough for rural deployments as well.
With current Femto & Nano cells market, how do you see LTE being used instead of already established 2G/3G Femto/Nano cells?
Femto/Nano cells help in additional radio coverage. With LTE it is not only solves the cell coverage isssue, but gives lot of additional functionality like better latency, better bandwidth, flatter architecture and single network serving both voice and data. Thus we see a definite market for LTE which cannot be fulfilled by 3G/2G femto and nano cells.
Could the “relay node” concept in LTE Advanced be used to enhance the in-building coverage for enterprises?
Yes, that can definitely be used for enhancing in-building coverage.
Have colleges been receptive to deployment of LTE and if not, why?
Colleges have still not been receptive of LTE due to non-availability of specific value added applications. Once the market is mature with many in-campus applications over LTE and better convergence, we will see higher interest in LTE from colleges.
A key public safety service not currently supported is unit to unit sessions that do not require an intermediated infrastructure leg (units at the scene sharing information with each other directly); how can this be supported?
Scene sharing is an important public safety application requirement. Scene sharing can be done using multi-media data flow through LTE networks. Application support is required in core network for allowing the scene sharing applications. We feel this is best possible through IMS based applications.
In 3rd scenario of Public Safety LTE deployment, if it has to be used for disaster management, can you clarify how a backend connection (using Satellite or Wifi Mesh) can be established in case of an earthquake, tsunami etc
The LTE core is transported over a portable van to the disaster management site. The data is collected by the LTE core within the portable van. It shall use Satellite connection as a satellite device connecting to the server using satellite based antennas on the core network device. All data collected through the portable vans can then be transmitted using applications within the transportable vans.
Which frequencies are optimum for the LTE deployment in rural or sparsely populated areas?
For rural deployment the lower frequency bands (700 MHz) is best suited, for better penetration and wider area coverage.
What is the overall cost for the deployment of LTE in rural or sparsely populated areas? `What bandwidth size is required?
Bandwidth size depends on the number of users and the bandwidth usage. More the usage more is the bandwidth required. Overall cost depends on multiple factors, like number of users, data throughput, area covered, redundancy requirement and alternate paths etc.
In public safety we must avoid single points of failure. How can we mitigate the risk of SPoF with such a highly integrated platform as LTE Lite?
Each of the nodes – MME, SGW, PGW, HSS, PCRF and backend applications can be redundant and can run on different cards for a blade/card architecture. Card, node and link failures can be avoided using active/standby execution on different cards of the chassis.
Does Altran have a smaller EPC? (microEPC)?
Yes, Altran has microEPC called the EPCLite which can scale from 10 to 200K subscribers. It supports HSS, PCRF, MME, SGW, and PGW on single system, where all are managed through common element management system. There is a Web based GUI to manage them.
Would this technology be suitable to e-health in rural areas? Assume X-rays are transmitted wirelessly. Could noise effects not distort the pictures resulting in a misreading of the x-rays?
Both in case of rural e-health areas as well as public safety, the pictures have to be precise to the dot. For this LTE defines better QoS class identifiers, with guaranteed bit rate and lower error rates. These can be used for non distorted pictures.
What are the challenges for core hosting in case of rural operators?
There are multiple challenges such as maintenance, remote monitoring, remote upgrades, high redundancy, finding alternate paths and establishing warning systems etc.
Does LTE for public safety support multicast services?
LTE specifications define multi-cast services which can be used for public safety as well.