Telcos call on disaster relief bodies to upgrade to advanced tools


NEW DELHI: India’s telecom operators have called on public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) agencies to replace old and inefficient communication technologies with 4G LTE for better coordination with digital tools such as images, vidoes, location and mapping.

PPDR agencies that work for rescue and relief operations during floods, earthquakes, coastal cyclones and pandemic currently use analog and digital systems supporting narrowband voice and data communications.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, besides equipment vendors such as Ericsson and Nokia, called for an overhaul of PPDR communication for public safety and first responder agencies such as police department, fire department, medical teams and armed forces, which is based on legacy technologies such as TETRA, P25 or old analog systems.

Lt. Gen SP Kochhar, Director General, COAI said PPDR agencies must transition to 4G LTE to leverage digital tools “such as access to instant messaging, high-quality images and video, mapping and location services, remote control of robots, and other applications.”

“Moreover, it has been observed that PPDR agencies have their individual networks in place, which work in silos. This issue needs to be urgently looked into and our industry is ready to provide the requisite support to these agencies to enable this,” he said at an industry webinar.

Experts pointed out that the current framework has resulted in fragmented spectrum assignments with an inefficient use of precious and prime sub-GHz frequency.

Randeep Raina, Chief Technology Officer, Nokia said current PPDR network is unable to have seamless communication and information sharing among the PPDR agencies.

“This is because their networks are either not inter-operable or they are just not compatible with each other. To overcome current challenges, LTE for public safety network brings many advantages and provides a host of services like IoT, Video streaming and is also scalable,” Raina said.

Among other advantages, LTE also promises interoperability, security with installed encryption and is also suitable to support large ecosystem.

“We understand India wants to adopt LTE but spectrum availability is an issue, so we hope all stakeholders work in this direction to adopt new technologies,” Raina added.

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