The worldwide success of UMTS Long Term Evolution (LTE) as THE wireless communication standard for mobile broadband data and High Definition (HD) voice delivery, including video, in today’s commercial communication networks has led to a commitment by governmental authorities to select LTE as underlying technology also for the next generation public safety network. In the United States, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has reserved paired spectrum of two times 10 MHz bandwidth in the 700 MHz for a nationwide public safety network, which should be deployed, maintained and serviced by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Recently, South Korea has also announced plans to deploy a nationwide network for critical communication based on LTE. However, LTE as a technology, and in its current version, is not quite ready to support all the requirements of the public safety community. Features like device-to-device communication (D2D) or group communication are not yet part of the standard. In fact the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the standardization body behind LTE, is still working on these enhancements. They are intended to become part of the next release of relevant technical specification, known as 3GPP Release 12 to be finalized by end of 2014. Further enhancements like Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT) will be part of the following release 13. Adding these features and its Self Organizing Network (SON) capabilities makes LTE also an interesting candidate to be used as underlying technology for next generation tactical communication to be used at the “battlefield of the future”. In this presentation, the current status of standardization will be presented and resulting technical challenges will be identified.
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