FCC approves LTE for emergency responder network

The FCC has approved a proposal that will require LTE technology to be used for public safety mobile broadband networks used by first responders.

The FCC’s order requires all 700MHz public safety mobile broadband networks to use a common air interface, specifically Long Term Evolution (LTE), to support roaming and interoperable communications.

The FCC’s actions build on the technical requirements that state and local 700MHz broadband waiver recipients are already subject to in the early build out of their regional public safety broadband networks.

The new regulations specify that LTE will be the standard for interoperability between broadband equipment used for communicating information, videos, photos and e-mails during standard operations and emergencies.

The agency is currently seeking public comment regarding other related issues, such as interconnectivity between networks, encryption, coverage and roaming or priority access between the public safety broadband networks.

“It has been almost 10 years since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and more than five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast,” the FCC wrote. “During those horrific events, and others, it became clear that the lack of a nationwide interoperable public safety network hampered rescue efforts and the overall effectiveness of public safety operations.

“Our action today takes an important step toward remedying the lack of such a network by establishing initial rules for a nationwide technical interoperable framework for the first nationwide broadband network for public safety,” the FCC wrote.

The commission said that given the overwhelming record support for LTE among public safety organizations and other stakeholders, and the importance of ensuring that all public safety broadband networks adopt a common air interface to establish an important building block for interoperability, “we will require that all networks deployed in the 700MHz public safety broadband spectrum adopt LTE, specifically at least 3GPP Standard E-UTRA Release 8 and associated EPC.”