17 September 2021 7 minute read

Reliable data communication, finally within reach

When people’s lives are at stake or high costs are incurred due to breakdowns or emergencies, large organisations and governments rely on mission-critical communications. With just one push of a button on the two-way radio, you will be in direct contact with the control room and communication will be reliable and clear. These days, technological developments are happening at an incredible speed; just think of the vehicle that NASA landed on Mars last week, which we were able to follow on video from millions of kilometres away. Yet sharing data like photos, videos and files via two-way radio is still not possible.

To meet the growing need for data, Flash Smart Com has developed a service that does meet all functionalities. This means with the reliability of the traditional mission-critical two-way radio system and with the added functionality of transmitting data over the national network. Rens Noordeman, Product Manager, explains how that technology works and what benefits Flash Smart Com offers.

Existing mission-critical radio networks lack the functionality to send data. Justice and Security Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus also stated in a letter to the Dutch Parliament that the current C2000 voice network, based on the TETRA Standard, is unable to meet the growing need for services that require data transmission. Flash Private Mobile Networks connects these two needs with Smart Com, enabling reliable data transmission in compliance with the mission-critical standard. In the event of mass data traffic, Flash Smart Com guarantees priority on the national network.

Sending data mission-critical

A regular public broadband network can transmit data such as photos and videos, but until recently could not be considered mission-critical. Total outages of the national mobile network were frequent. Transmission was not fast enough for reliable group communication and networks became overloaded by the many users who wanted simultaneous access or large groups of people who gathered at one location.

Sending mission-critical data over a public network is only possible if the technology is in order.

There is a growing need for services that require data transmission, like photos, video, files and GPS positions. The current mission-critical TETRA networks, like C2000, don’t have this important function. For a long time, traditional radio communication based on the TETRA standard was the most reliable way for mission-critical users to communicate, except that it was unable to send data. Flash Smart Com combines the wishes of the user and offers the solution.

Guaranteed mission-critical communication on the public network

Not every mobile network is suitable for mission-critical applications. Fortunately, Flash Smart Com has developed a solution in collaboration with T-Mobile that guarantees mission-critical communication on a public network. Both mission-critical voice and data communications are sent over a restricted part of the network. A robust network design forms the basis for this. The core of the network is set up according to a high availability configuration. The infrastructure has been constructed redundantly. The network offers sufficient coverage, plus, the transmitters are equipped with emergency power systems.

A reliable infrastructure alone is not enough. The network has to be set up for critical communication. This involves a logical separation of the “normal” users by means of a separate access point. The systems for mission-critical group communication must have sufficient capabilities, be located in the heart of the network, and optimal security measures must protect the users.

Flash Smart Com offers the mission-critical functionality on T-Mobile’s secure, prioritised part of the public network. In other words, the communication on this protected part of the network is prioritised over the communication of consumers and business users.

Evolution in current technology

Nationwide coverage

With the number of stations and overlapping coverage areas, the nationwide coverage of the mobile network is so advanced that the chances of this network failing completely are negligible. The transmitters are built redundantly in rings and monitored by emergency power supplies. This network has been created with so much overlap that it will continue to function as a whole if one or more components break down or fail. The chances of this network breaking down completely are virtually zero. By contrast, nationwide Tetra networks work with adjacent coverage areas; if a transmitter fails in one area, there is a gap in the network. This is rarely the case with nationwide coverage on the public network, especially in urban areas. Reliability of the network is of great value, with traffic routes finding their way dynamically and quickly, and a fault in the network being quickly detected and circumvented.

Redundancy in the network ensures optimal reliability

Priority on the network at peak times

The network is stable, fast and reliable. The greatest risk in consumer mobile networks is that there are so many people in one place that the capacity of the network is no longer sufficient. This could be, for example, during a big celebration for a football team, when everyone starts calling and sending WhatsApp messages in large numbers on New Year’s Eve, or when there’s an accident and lots of people are watching and sending videos. But also when there is a sudden major traffic jam because of an accident in a tunnel and everybody starts watching Netflix or social media in their car. Unanticipated events and large numbers of people using the network cause capacity problems. Flash Smart Com has solved this by guaranteeing priority over other users. A priority that ensures that the restricted part of the network meets the mission-critical standard. So in case one of these situations occurs in practice and a first responder pushes the talk key to get in touch with the control room, the other users are simply pushed off the network to give the first responder access. This makes it mission-critical at a nationwide level.

With massive use of data traffic, Flash Smart Com has priority on the network

No safety compromises

Another important facility is that the service takes place in a restricted area of the network, so it is guaranteed safe. Flash Smart Com has done everything possible to ensure that attackers cannot access the service or the devices on which it operates. Because Flash Smart Com does not route the traffic over the internet but places the equipment within the operator’s network, there is almost no risk. All suppliers and services are certified in accordance with the future-proof 3GPP standard for mission-critical communication.

Flash Smart Com is built in a restricted area of the network and has an ecosystem set up to the standards of the 3GPP. All components in the ecosystem such as the application, the network, the equipment, masts, transmitters and different devices are certified according to this 3GPP standard. Because this standard evolves continuously, Flash Smart Com is future-proof for prioritised mission critical voice and data traffic. Each link in the chain has been selected, assessed and, if necessary, adjusted in order to keep the reliability of the entire service as high as possible.

Time savings and control

With this solution, law enforcement officers, first responders and other users of Flash Smart Com are firmly in control. They are in direct contact with the control room, can ask colleagues for help and can leave control to their helpline. They can send pictures of situations on the ground, know where their colleagues are by GPS location and know that their communication is working, no matter where they are in the coverage area or what situation arises.

All the functions of the old reliable two-way radio, but now on your smart device with which you can also send data such as photos, videos or GPS location determination. It saves a lot of time and provides instant clarity! For good reason, first responders and law enforcement officers who use Flash Smart Com on their smart device call it their lifeline. That says enough.

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