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Public safety spectrum & systems

  • March 2015
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  • 48 pages


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Which pathways to broadband PPDR networks?

PPDR usage worldwide is concentrated on a limited number of frequency bands. Among them, the 400 MHz is the most currently used for narrowband systems.
At the WRC-15 in November 2015, a decision is to be taken on allocation of frequencies for broadband PPDR spectrum. The 700 MHz is the best candidate at world level, with distinct scenarios being considered.

TETRA-like narrowband networks have served PPDR issues well in the last decade.
Major PPDR users and industry associations have defined LTE as the technology for broadband PPDR systems.

This report presents the considered pathways to broadband PPDR spectrum and systems for the next decade.

What is PPDR?

Public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) is a top-priority subject for both citizens and governments. Radio solutions are an essential element in public safety operations. The public safety services, including fire brigades, police forces, ambulance services and maritime and coastguard services, are the primary protector of life and property in cities, towns and beyond, throughout the world. These organisations provide an individual and professional response to incidents and disaster situations. PPDR is the general designation given to a range of public safety services. Informally, they consist primarily of police, fire and emergency medical services. Also included within the ambit of PPDR are search and rescue, border security, event security, protection of VIPs and dignitaries, evacuation of citizens and other aspects of response to natural and man-made disasters.

The formal definitions of PPDR derive from Report ITU-R M.2033 ‘Radiocommunication objectives and requirements for public protection and disaster relief’:
- Public protection (PP) radiocommunications: radiocommunications used by responsible agencies and organisations dealing with the maintenance of law and order, protection of life and property, and emergency situations.
- Disaster relief (DR) adiocommunications: radiocommunications used by agencies and organisations dealing with a serious disruption of the functioning of society, posing a significant, widespread threat to human life, health, property or the environment, whether caused by accident, nature or human activity, and whether developing suddenly or as a result of complex, long-term processes.

The work of the FM49 in ECC Draft Report 199 defines three types of PPDR events:
- Day-to-day operations (category ‘PP1’) encompass the routine operations that PPDR agencies conduct within their jurisdiction. Most public protection spectrum and infrastructure requirements are determined using this scenario.
- Large emergency and/or public events (category ‘PP2’)
The size and nature of the event may require additional PPDR resources from adjacent jurisdictions, cross-border agencies or international organisations. Large fires encompassing three or four blocks in a large city, or a large forest fire, are examples of a large emergency under this scenario. Likewise, a large public event, be it national or international, could include a G8 summit or the Olympics.
- Disaster relief (category ‘DR’) can be those situations caused by either natural or human activity.

Natural disasters include an earthquake, major tropical storm, a major ice storm or floods. Examples of disasters caused by human activity include large-scale criminal incidences or situations of armed conflict.

A PPDR framework should include frequency bands for narrowband, wideband and broadband systems. The ITU-R Report M.2033 defines narrowband, wideband and broadband systems:
- Narrowband: Wide area networks with typical bandwidths up to 25 kHz. Narrowband systems are generally national and permanent networks.
- Wideband: Wideband systems will carry data rates of several hundred kilobits per second (such as in the range 384-500 kbit/s), which will allow the transmission of large blocks of data, video and Internet protocol-based traffic. Wideband systems will complement narrowband systems and will also be national and permanent networks.

- Broadband: Broadband technology will allow new capabilities and functionalities to support higher data speeds and higher resolution images. It is foreseen that these broadband systems will generally be localised at the scene of the incident or accident (also referred to as ‘hot spot’ areas) or at a large-scale event (concert or sport), where PPDR personnel are operating. These systems could provide voice, high-speed data, and high-quality digital real-time video and multimedia applications requiring data rates in the range of 1-100 Mbps. Broadband networks will generally be temporary and localised in nature.

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