Today’s PPDR (Public Protection and Disaster Relief) devices are still mostly built on narrowband technologies, providing mission-critical voice and short messaging services. These services are often available within nationwide PPDR network coverage, utilising dedicated frequency bands.
The narrowband PPDR device ecosystem is well established, including infrastructure and terminal suppliers, system integrators, service providers and resellers. From a device procurement perspective, there are existing frame agreements in place. The solution costs are well known, device lifecycles are long, and there are no major changes in the product specifications. Finally, TCCA’s TETRA interoperability (IOP) process allows for multi-vendor procurement.
Now, as the PPDR industry is transitioning to a new era with the adoption of 4G and 5G broadband communications, there are several issues that need to be considered. In addition, from the procurement perspective, the transition to mission-critical broadband will require a series of well-planned steps.
Bringing devices to market that support these new device technologies, and meet various PPDR requirements, will require investments by the vendors, as well as commitment from customers in terms of development support, minimum order quantities, user testing and acceptance, etc.
Many current procurement models also allow device purchases from other sources. User organisations can run their own procurements, broadband devices can be leased from IT service companies, or even purchased by individual employees (BYOD – Bring Your Own Device).
Device and OS/software lifecycles of modern broadband devices are short compared to LMR/PMR radios, even though vendors are doing their best to extend them. The current procurement, testing, certification and approval processes required for PPDR usage therefore need to be adapted accordingly.
At the same time, the vendors must be able to provide information on their existing capabilities and present a roadmap that shows how they plan to meet the evolving customer needs and requirements throughout the contract period.
As in any change there is room for improving the status quo. We should look back on what has been working well and what has been a problem, and then try to find a better way forward.
The aim of this TCCA white paper is to provide a holistic overview of PPDR broadband device related requirements, to list the main topics and issues to be considered, as well as provide recommendations for a successful procurement. Hence this paper is mainly written to address public safety organisations who are planning new device procurements.