The resounding observation among attendees of the 2013 IWCE Conference was newfound “energy”.
Maybe it’s because in 2012 Las Vegas played host simultaneously to HIMSS and IWCE which siphoned off – or at least competed with – attendance at the public-safety and two-way radio technology event. But this year it seemed that IWCE attracted twice the number of attendees!
And with the combination of FirstNet initiatives and the industry push toward LTE public-safety communications, the event appears to be attracting new entrants who are bringing an information technologies (IT) outlook to radio frequency (RF).
Which is a good thing as the public-safety and cellular industries collaborate to ensure that mission-critical communications for first responders work both outdoors and indoors.
DAS (Finally) Gets its Due
Whereas in previous years solving the challenge of indoor public-safety communications was typically handled in a lone signal boosters session, the 2013 agenda hosted multiple sessions on DAS, small cells and interoperability communications not to mention backhaul. SOLiD and many members of the DAS Forum who are active within public-safety were on hand to participate on the educational sessions.
During the In-Building Wireless and DAS Fundamentals workshop, SOLiD’s President and Founder of the Safer Buildings Coalition – Seth Buechley – joined a panel of DAS OEMs and Integrators to explore industry trends and initiatives.
While public-safety communications has moved away from “fireman jacks” (where first responders used to plug in radios to building wiring) and instead to RF wireless coverage, the need for RF coverage extension remains.
The cellular industry solves these challenges through DAS. Which is why the Safer Buildings Coalition advocates for accommodating public-safety on the same in-building network that enables cellular.
Consolidation & Convergence
Increasingly building owners are being mandated to include public-safety coverage. Panelists suggest a trend of consolidation and convergence.
For instance, Seth Buechley asked if DAS is seen as the plumbing that delivers RF, shouldn’t cellular and public-safety be delivered on the same network?
Darlene Braunschweig (Tempest Telecom) likened today’s in-building public-safety market to the early days of neutral-host cellular DAS when building owners insisted on a single platform as opposed to having three systems installed by three different people.
Indeed, Tempest reports that the firm is seeing fewer public-safety only deployments.
And following the trend of convergence, Seth Buechley shared that a key initiative of Safer Buildings Coalition is to create and consolidate myriad cellular and public-safety standards bodies and integrator certification programs so as to ensure that the needs of both industries are satisfied to ensure mission-critical communications.
Look for more from Safer Buildings Coalition at the APCO Annual Conference & Expo.
Public-Safety Only DAS
Although the industry trend is toward a converged, neutral-host DAS platform for both cellular and public-safety, building owners will increasingly be on the hook to enable public-safety communications as local codes include coverage mandates.
To address this need, SOLiD launched its single system public-safety DAS – EXPRESS PS – at IWCE which was showcased in Tempest’s booth.
EXPRESS PS supports 700/800/UHF/VHF public-safety frequencies on a single system and provides coverage for public-safety and land mobile radio (LMR) communications services inside buildings.
Now Your Turn
Did you attend IWCE? What were your key takeaways?
DAS, DAS Integrators, FirstNet, In-Building Wireless, LTE, Public Safety, Public Safety Radio, Safer Buildings Coalition