Private networks of the future

Context

Public service networks dedicated to the needs of the security and emergency services are generally referred to as Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) systems.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and several users of professional mobile radio (PMR) networks have expressed a need for additional spectrum resources to cope with the shift in usage towards broadband. The plan is to work from the LTE technology used by commercial 4G mobile networks and carry out the additional developments needed to support specific PPDR features. The spectrum needed for implementation of the future sovereign PPDR system has been evaluated at a minimum of 2x10 MHz at European level. This does not cover the needs of direct mode communications, or of air-ground-air or voice communications.

Another option lies in the use of 5G: with its capacity for tailoring throughput, latency and quality of service to each user within the same spectrum block, it offers a possible solution to the specific operational constraints of PPDR. As regards the future PMR network, systems that will provide broadband communications are eagerly awaited by existing PMR operators such as Aéroports de Paris, EDF or Société du Grand Paris. Their low-speed networks are currently regional or national in scope, in the 400 MHz band. They have joined forces to set up an organisation of major PMR network users (AGURRE).

Certain usages could in future be hosted by mobile networks open to the public, but most PMR users prefer to retain control over their facilities, in view of security considerations and the need to fine-tune coverage according to their needs, for example in areas out of bounds to the public (power stations, airports, railway stations) or with no other coverage (power lines in mountainous areas).

The Prime Ministerial decree of 23 October 2015 amending the French National Table of Frequency Allocations (Tableau national de répartition des bandes de fréquences/TNRBF) provided an initial response to broadband PPDR and PMR needs with an exclusive allocation to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of 2x5 MHz and 2x3 MHz respectively in the 698-703 MHz, 733-736 MHz, 753-758 MHz and 788-791 MHz bands, with effect from 1 July 2019 in Region 1 (Europe-Africa-Middle East), and with effect from the date of the decree’s adoption in Region 2 (the Americas), for the implementation of a sovereign broadband PPDR network. Notwithstanding the Ministry’s exclusive allocation, ARCEP is empowered to issue authorisations to third parties in these bands, on conditions that will be subject to agreement between the two assignees, thus offering an initial solution to certain broadband PMR needs.

ANFR is actively working on the possibilities of identifying additional spectrum for the broadband PPDR and PMR networks in other bands. Technical studies are under way at the European level to assess the possibilities of introducing LTE in the 410-470 MHz band, and the 450-470 MHz band is already subject to European harmonisation for the purposes of broadband PPDR. In France, a plan to make two 2x3 MHz sub-bands available to meet broadband PPDR and PMR needs in the 400 MHz band was confirmed by a working group chaired by ANFR and made up of representatives from ARCEP, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The group concluded that the initial aim of the proposed replanning should be to introduce a broadband PMR network in the frequency bands allocated to ARCEP, followed by the introduction of a broadband PPDR network in the 450-470 MHz band. A number of different options, mainly relating to the migration programme, have been identified and will be examined over the next few years before decisions are made.

The bands above 1 GHz are among the new territories to be explored, with a particular eye to opportunities in the 1900-1920 MHz and 2570-2620 MHz bands. The PPDR sector has expressed an interest in the 1900-1920 MHz band, particularly for “tactical bubbles”. In the 2570-2620 MHz band, encouraging results have emerged from the many broadband PMR experiments already carried out in France.

Proposal 1

ANFR will produce a detailed plan for migration to broadband PPDR and PMR in the 400 MHz band, taking into account the necessary trade-offs between the options proposed.

Proposal 3

ANFR will study the identification and harmonisation of high frequency bands (above 1GHz) for broadband PPDR or PMR at the European level (CEPT).

Proposal 2

ANFR will support development of the LTE ecosystem and work on LTE standardisation in the 400 MHz and 700 MHz bands, in accordance with the associated rules of coexistence, with particular emphasis on Ministry of Internal Affairs needs.

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