Public protection and disaster relief took centre stage at a joint ETSI-CEPT workshop in September. The CEPT’s Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) held the joint workshop, entitled "Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) - Regulatory Changes and New Opportunities for Broadband PPDR (BB-PPDR)". The event took place on 29 September at ETSI's headquarters in France. About 100 people attended.
The first seeds for the workshop were sown in October 2015 when the ECC adopted Report 218. This addresses spectrum options for the implementation of BB-PPDR networks and services in CEPT countries - in the 400 and 700 MHz frequency ranges. The Report proposed the concept of "flexible harmonisation" to enable an efficient implementation of BB-PPDR within the CEPT area (see the ECC Newsletter from November 2015 on BB-PPDR). ECC Decision (16)02, published in June 2016, also addressed BB-PPDR spectrum in the 450 – 470 and 700 MHz ranges.
The one-day workshop provided a platform for all relevant parties, including: those in the standardisation and manufacturing industry; PPDR organisations (authorities, service providers); spectrum regulators; PPDR users (police fire brigade, ambulance services), and Ministries of Interior. It gave them the opportunity to collaborate and exchange views on BB-PPDR issues.
The main objective of the workshop was to inform the audience about the latest situation on BB-PPDR, identify required future activities in various areas (standardisation, national implementation, regulation), and to consider the interdependencies between those areas.
From start to finish, the workshop was packed with useful information. It provided an overview on existing achievements in CEPT/ECC on Broadband PPDR, and it looked at the history dating from the publication of the original ETSI system reference document to the adoption of ECC Decision (16)02 (ETSI-CEPT/ECC collaboration process).
Attendees were provided with information on the existing standardisation activities, and agreed standards and specifications, as well as already agreed work items, in support of the CEPT initiative in 3GPP and ETSI. An interesting discussion followed.
In addition, standard conformance and interoperability was noted to be very important for BB-PPDR. This is especially the case when seen under the flexible harmonisation concept for BB-PPDR as decided by CEPT/ECC.
ETSI outlined the support and tools available in the ETSI Centre for Testing & Interoperability. In fact, work in this area for BB-PPDR protocol conformance and interoperability specifications is already on-going, and it will also include 'plug-testing' in the future. This news was welcomed at the workshop, and several countries indicated that they see the need for standardised solutions supported by multiple vendors.
It didn't end there. Other issues of interest included a discussion around the feasibility of linking the BB-PPDR network to government IT networks and BB-PPDR terminals roaming on commercial mobile networks.
Status reports and national case studies from various countries (France, Nordic countries, United Kingdom) were also presented. Roadmaps and the main expected challenges were reported to give a good overview of what can be expected for national implementation of BB-PPDR networks:
The workshop also provided a platform for industry and stakeholder associations to provide their perspective. This allowed some reflection on the CEPT spectrum harmonisation approach and standardisation activities. It also identified challenges which are still to be solved:
There was a lot discussed over the course of the day, but one of the main conclusions of the workshop was around the BB-PPDR regulatory harmonisation approach. Attendees agreed that technical conditions must be adequately covered and specified in detail in the future ETSI harmonised European Standard. Indeed, ETSI has already set up a work item for this.
Further ETSI standards and specifications to achieve interoperability and cross-border communication are also planned. This work includes the clear identification of the areas for which solutions are still outstanding or still need to progress. Those ‘under progress’ concern some frequency arrangements and associated technical conditions set out in ECC Decision (16)02, which may need inclusion or reflection of the technical conditions in the respective 3GPP specifications.
The workshop gave attendees an insight into the options for the national choice of the most suitable implementation model, and into the selection of the relevant frequency ranges based on the existing European regulatory framework provided by ECC Decision (16)02 for BB-PPDR. The outcome of the workshop will support the ongoing activities in the area of standardisation (ETSI, 3GPP).
The presentations are available, as well as the closing remarks including a more detailed first summary, as presented by Mr Thomas Weilacher, Chairman of CEPT ECC/WGFM, and Dr Michael Sharpe, Director Spectrum and Equipment Regulation, ETSI.
Thomas Weber, Spectrum Expert, European Communications Office