Motorola Responds to Standards Questions
August 31, 2011
Lawmakers have recently asked questions and vendor executives have made allegations about the competitiveness of the U.S. public-safety communications market and Motorola Solutions’ conformance to industry standards. In this interview, Bob Schassler, senior vice president of radio products for Motorola Solutions, answers questions specific to Project 25 (P25), Long Term Evolution (LTE) and TETRA. Schassler oversees product development activity and research and development (R&D) investments, and is responsible for the product management and development engineering organizations.
Do you think users have fair and balanced representation within the P25 standards process?
The P25 standards development process is a completely open process and incorporates key participation and the collective knowledge of both public-safety user representatives and multiple companies from the manufacturing community. The process leverages the expertise from multiple entities, including the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). Any interested individual, association or entity can become involved.
The P25 standards process is fairly unique in that it is a user driven, not a vendor driven, process. Through the user needs committee and steering committee, decisions on which features should be added to the standard are discussed and voted on. Vendors are available as advisors but don’t vote on these committees. Vendors have the technical resources to validate feature direction and write the detailed technical documents needed to codify exactly how a feature works. The final standards documents, in the order selected by the steering committee, are then approved by public-safety organizations that make up the steering committee.
Does Motorola build proprietary or other features into its P25 products that preclude users from buying equipment from other P25 vendors once those features have been implemented?
The P25 standard process has several levels of features. There are required features that everyone must develop to support P25 in the same way and must have in all P25 implementations. There are also standards-defined optional features that customers can choose to buy, but that must also be developed in the same way to be interoperable. Finally, the user community specifically has allowed in the standard for additional features that vendors can choose to develop. If these features are well received, then the user committee can and has brought these features into the standard, where all vendors agree to implement them in the same way.
Our public-safety customers have come to us with specific needs, and Motorola Solutions is investing significant R&D dollars to provide innovative solutions that meet their requirements. Some of these innovations come in the form of applications that operate over the P25 standards. These applications have been misconstrued or misrepresented by some vendors as proprietary. All vendors have equal opportunity to invest in innovative solutions for the public-safety marketplace, just as Motorola Solutions has done and continues to do.
The P25 Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) board is developing conformance tests outside of TIA because P25 vendors said conformance tests shouldn’t be written within the standards process. Are conformance tests important to ensure interoperability? What’s the best process for conformance standards?
Conformance tests are an important way to verify that a manufacturer has correctly implemented the standard features into their product. Motorola Solutions does this testing as an important step during the development process.
The best way to move forward for public safety would be for the P25 CAP governing board and the TIA to agree on one conformance testing methodology and one set of conformance test standards. Having two different sets of conformance tests results in additional costs and inefficiencies for all public-safety stakeholders.
Should any changes be made to the P25 standards process?
The P25 standards process is working well, and in fact, has grown with more industry participation during 2011 than any previous year. There are more than 12 suppliers shipping P25 subscribers, and this number is increasing. New vendors that previously developed other technologies are adding P25 to their portfolios and are becoming active in the standards process. This involvement demonstrates that there is a good ecosystem around the P25 standard and the adoption of the technology. As a user-driven standard, the user committee always welcomes more participation from active and future P25 users.
What specifically should take place to ensure interoperability among the various public-safety LTE networks currently in procurement or buildout?
Interoperability has become a key requirement for public-safety communications systems. For LMR, achieving interoperability has been a particular challenge because these systems grew over time to cover multiple frequency bands, while at the same time, the underlying technology was evolving from analog to P25. Because public-safety broadband will be implemented in only one band and has already locked down a technology, LTE, interoperability can be achieved by conforming to the LTE standard.
Motorola Solutions supports the definition of interoperability developed by Safecom that has since been proposed for incorporation into the FCC’s rules. Safecom defines interoperability as “the ability of emergency responders to work seamlessly with other systems or products without any special effort. Wireless communications interoperability specifically refers to the ability of emergency response officials to share information via voice and data signals on demand, in real time, when needed, and as authorized.”
This definition has been vetted by the broad range of Safecom public-safety experts and should represent the operational requirements public safety views to be most appropriate. In addition, the industry must comply with the FCC’s rules on LTE standards and the interoperability requirements imposed on public safety through waiver conditions or rules. These elements will provide a solid foundation for interoperability among vendors of the various pieces that comprise an LTE network.
Motorola Solutions believes an appropriate balance will be needed between the direct responsibilities of a national governance entity and those responsibilities that should be delegated to state/local governments. Such a balance will better reflect the differences in operational needs from one jurisdiction to another and recognizes the essential role of state/local governments in deciding how best to meet their own unique public-safety needs.
Decision-making authority over elements of the network, such as the regional cores, sites and local applications, also should be delegated to state/local governments. At the same time, a centralized entity should have some level of oversight responsibility for these activities to ensure the appropriate level of consistency in nationwide network deployment and to ensure that implementation activities proceed in accordance with the nationwide buildout schedule.
In addition, the centralized entity should be directly responsible for implementation of national-level components, such as a nationwide IP backbone, common applications and services; a network evolution plan for technology and standards; and the establishment of national interoperability requirements. The necessary governance structures to accomplish this are already largely in place in the statewide interoperability governing board (SIGB) and statewide interoperability executive committee (SIEC). Among the advantages of a less centralized governance approach are faster implementation, greater competition in the procurement process, lower costs and increased network resiliency.
A presentation by a Motorola executive in March said there are some areas of the 3GPP LTE standards that aren’t specific enough for public safety, so Motorola will extend the standards to meet public-safety needs, specifically for priority and quality of service. Will any of these public-safety features of Motorola’s LTE products hinder interoperability in the future? Will they be introduced into the standards process?
Motorola Solutions’ LTE products and public-safety features will comply with the FCC’s rules on LTE standards and the interoperability requirements imposed on public safety through waiver conditions or rules and will not hinder interoperability in the future. Motorola Solutions is dedicated to ensuring interoperability through standards definition within the appropriate open consensus-based standards forums, including the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards that define capabilities for the LTE network. Where there are additions to the 3GPP standardized LTE capabilities that could benefit public safety, Motorola Solutions will work with others in the standards forums to collectively support those standards forums for forward releases of LTE. All vendors will innovate to add capabilities that will require interoperability and meet the needs of the public-safety user community. Motorola Solutions will support the public-safety user community by introducing innovation into National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), 3GPP and other appropriate standards forums to meet the needs of public-safety user community and provide interoperable solutions.
For example, NPSTC’s broadband working group is defining public-safety community user scenarios and then requirements based on the use cases for three areas of immediate focus for public-safety LTE broadband systems — priority and quality of service, local control and multimedia emergency services. The group also recently completed a functional description of mission-critical voice for public-safety LTE broadband systems. Motorola Solutions is actively participating on these NPSTC projects and plans to collectively, with others, support the submission of the NPSTC user needs definitions into 3GPP as the base for enhancing LTE implementation standards definition.
Will users on a public-safety private LTE network supplied by Motorola Solutions be able to roam onto the Verizon Wireless network and maintain their public-safety features on the commercial network?
The private LTE network supplied by Motorola Solutions will support roaming with the Verizon Wireless LTE network. When roaming from any private LTE network onto any public LTE network, it may not always be possible to guarantee similar quality of service for some features.
Once both networks are sufficiently built out, will Motorola’s devices from the San Francisco Bay Area network operate on the Adams County, Colo., network, which will use IPWireless LTE equipment?
Motorola Solutions’ devices are built to LTE standards and will work on any LTE network that complies with the LTE standard and uses common frequencies.
If a vendor begins deployment of a TETRA network in the United States or Canada, does Motorola foresee any standards or intellectual property rights (IPR) issues that will need to be addressed?
Any proposed TETRA deployment would need to address a variety of requirements prior to implementation. TETRA products face several technical and practical issues before they can be implemented in North America, including spectrum constraints, establishment and maintenance of additional radio sites, and interference risk with P25 public-safety networks. Motorola Solutions believes that the best way to ensure that these issues are addressed is to create a North American TETRA standard. However, if vendors want to enter the market prior to development of a North American TETRA standard, it will be their responsibility to ensure their products are legally authorized for North American use — including addressing all relevant standards and IPR issues — and then work with the FCC, regional spectrum planning committees and frequency coordinators, to protect existing North American customers from issues such as interference. Motorola Solutions will work with its customers to make sure their concerns are addressed.
Motorola sells Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) equipment in the United States, and DMR is a European-based standard similar to TETRA. Why does Motorola see a difference in the process for U.S. deployment between the two European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)-based standards?
There are differences between the TETRA and DMR standard. The DMR standard doesn’t have to be adjusted or modified to operate in the United States, however, TETRA as currently configured, does have to be modified.
Does Motorola plan to sell TETRA equipment in the United States or Canada now that both the FCC and Industry Canada have approved the technology in some bands?
It is premature to discuss specific business plans related to this technology.