The Future of Mission-Critical LTE Communications

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A Recap from IWCE LTE Forum Chicago

Earlier last month, a group of technology professionals, public safety agencies, and enterprise and government representatives gathered in Chicago at the IWCE Critical LTE Communications Forum. The conference explored the challenges and solutions for mapping the transition from voice-centric land mobile radio (LMR) to mission-critical multimedia LTE network solutions.

The key themes of the conference centered on the transition from LMR to LTE, and what technology solutions are needed for mission-critical LTE.

The Transition from LMR to LTE: As mission-critical communication needs evolve from being voice-centric to including multimedia data, including group chats and video applications, there is a need for more sophisticated and reliable LTE networks. An ecosystem of players is gathering to create the solutions and applications for enterprise, government and public safety organizations to transition to LTE networks that provide secure, reliable voice, data and multimedia for emergency services and other mission-critical events.

Technology Solutions for Mission-Critical LTE: Device-to-device communications, focusing on mission-critical data, video and Push-To-Talk (PTT) applications, requires high levels of interoperability and collaboration across multiple industries and groups. From operators to device manufacturers to solutions providers, the ecosystem requires interoperable standards and open solutions for mission-critical LTE to become a reality. And it’s a big opportunity – for example, there are currently more than 3.5 million PTT users who will need to migrate over to mission-critical LTE in a seamless, reliable transition.

During the forum, Kyocera participated in a panel with several key partners who are collaborating to bring the mission-critical LTE ecosystem together. We spoke about Kyocera rugged mobile devices and how they are built to survive harsh environments, drops, water spills and hazardous conditions, all with a lower total cost of ownership. Kyocera phones deliver the features needed for critical communications, from security, to 810G and IP68 certification for protection against dust, water, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures and more, to dedicated PTT buttons, long-lasting batteries and dual front-facing speakers for noisy conditions.

Our partners and co-panelists who are helping to navigate the shift to mission-critical LTE and build solutions that serve multiple verticals, from public safety, to transportation, logistics, utilities and hospitality, included:

  • ESChat: Josh Lober, President and CEO, ESChat
    ESChat (Enterprise Secure Chat) is dedicated to providing solutions for secure PTT voice, group text messaging and live location tracking & mapping. With a focus on the interoperability between communication technologies, ESChat is enabling a more seamless and secure LMR to LTE transition. The ESChat secure communication platform is compliant to the 3GPP’s mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) standards and ensures interoperability between MCPTT vendors on various mobile devices.
  • Blueforce Development: Michael Helfrich, Founder and CEO Blueforce Development Corporation.
    Blueforce Development specializes in providing products and services that enhance safety, increase operational efficiency and enable better decisions, particularly in the defense, law-enforcement and security industries. By transmitting vital, actionable information in real time, Blueforce helps ground teams in making split-second decisions. Mission-critical LTE helps overcome challenges like low visibility and information fidelity, especially when it comes to visuals, and is an important part of the solution in transmitting data quickly, reliably and securely.
  • Visual Labs: Alex Popof, Founder and CEO, Visual Labs, Inc.
    Visual Labs, which calls itself the “the body camera company that doesn’t make body cameras,” specializes in live streaming with body cameras. Solving connectivity limitations faced by traditional body camera solutions, Visual Labs utilizes mission-critical LTE to provide real-time situational awareness via live video feeds, significantly enhancing officer safety in crisis situations.

As key vertical industries, including government, military, municipalities, public safety, school districts and more, look to make the transition to mission-critical LTE, the ecosystem is coming together to support the evolution in the most seamless, secure and reliable way possible. From carrier support to handset manufacturers’ new features and capabilities to solutions providers, critical communications are being upgraded in a major way with real-time location, video, group chat and multimedia applications, as well as rugged, built-to-survive mobile devices.

Partner Spotlight: How to Implement PTT into Your Business (And Save Money!) Using Kodiak

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For the past several decades, Push to Talk (PTT) has been a significant technology in enabling business-critical, two-way communications between individuals and groups for businesses and government agencies, helping connect field-force workers with each other and the main office, and first responders providing emergency services. Recently, we’ve explored how the marriage of rugged devices and PTT over LTE networks can power greater levels of enterprise mobility. We’ve also examined how PTT impacts various industries like transportation, construction and public safety to enable everything from dispatching, security and worksite collaboration, to the coordination of an emergency response in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the evolving PTT ecosystem and how a particular player, Kodiak, is working to bridge the gap between traditional PTT technologies (most notably, Land Mobile Radio or LMR) and Push To Talk over Cellular (PoC) and Wi-Fi networks. At Kyocera, we partner with leading developers to deliver highly dependable PTT services on our rugged mobile devices over ubiquitous communications networks, enabling secure and reliable mobility for workers. Under this approach, we allow organizations to supplement legacy PTT and LMR systems with next-generation PTT, extending the reach of business-critical voice applications while reducing both the total cost of ownership (TCO) and complexities associated with their delivery and management.

Kyocera works closely with Kodiak, which provides one of the industry’s leading purpose-built PTT platform that operates across LMR, LTE and Wi-Fi networks — delivering much-needed performance and interoperability between these historically disjointed communication systems. Kodiak helps enterprises expand the range and capabilities of their instant communications investments regardless of their legacy solution(s) or their current stages of implementation.

PTT Enablement and Cost Savings for Every Organization

In the world of PTT, there are two types of user organizations: those with deeply entrenched deployments and those that are newly discovering how PTT can benefit their businesses. For organizations with legacy PTT investments, the Kodiak platform can augment existing two-way radio networks with additional capacity, geographic coverage and fallback support. For new adopters, Kodiak provides an onramp to PTT enablement without the expense of having to build, lease or maintain LMR networks, equipment and devices.

For both of these groups, the cost savings of the Kodiak platform can be significant, as the annual costs of supporting a carrier-integrated PTT user costs the enterprise 55 percent less than the expense of supporting an LMR user. As we mention in our Push-to-Talk white paper, for organizations that must provision thousands of PTT users, using PTT over cellular networks can generate annual costs savings in the millions.

Kodiak enables organizations to accomplish more with less by extending the number of PTT connections that an existing system can support, and by offering the most advanced platform for organizations seeking to introduce PTT services to streamline one-to-one and one-to-many communications and boost productivity. Using Kodiak in tandem with Kyocera’s rugged mobile devices, enterprises can achieve the following:

  • Unify LMR and Next-Gen Communications Networks – Kodiak powers interoperability between old and new PTT networks, delivering fast, near-zero latency connectivity over 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi. Utilizing a Raytheon ACU series interoperability gateway and Kodiak PoC LMR interoperability cable, Kodiak extends LMR fleets by bridging cellular PTT devices and LMR radios for seamless, interoperable and instant voice communications.
  • Augment, Back Up or Migrate From Two-Way Radio Networks – Kodiak-powered PTT eliminates many of the geographic limitations of LMR radios by providing access to nationwide cellular networks. In addition, the solution allows organizations to increase the number of PTT users supported without making additional investments in dedicated, proprietary LMR towers, equipment and handheld radios. Kodiak not only provides organizations with reliable fallback support for critical voice applications, but also the redundancy and guaranteed uptime for organizations looking to transition away from end-of-life systems.
  • Consolidate Handheld Devices for End-Users – Mobile devices have become standard operating equipment for every level of enterprise worker — from the factory floor to the C-level — providing everything users need in a single device. With a Kodiak-powered solution and rugged mobile devices with dedicated side PTT buttons like those from Kyocera, workers can leverage enhanced Push to Talk directly from their feature phones and smartphones to facilitate one-touch walkie-talkie style communications. Not only are Kyocera rugged devices both more affordable and portable than traditional handheld radios, but they also provide workers with a single mobile device that consolidates one-touch PTT, voice calling, text, video and email communications.
  • Lower TCO – With low-cost, fixed-fee PTT plans and carrier-subsidized Kyocera handsets, PTT powered by Kodiak Networks provides a much-needed, cost-effective alternative to LMR. Unlike handheld radios, mobile phones provide the opportunity to cost-effectively upgrade devices every two years. This allows workers to take full advantage of the latest advances in technology, which is of particular importance for organizations that require enterprise-level security and provisioning, and whose workers rely on an array of productivity applications.

Kyocera’s goal is to deliver one-to-one and one-to-many communications over cellular and Wi-Fi networks, and we design our devices to enhance the PTT experience with loud speakers and a dedicated side button, among others. Kodiak represents a critical partner in helping us revolutionize enterprise mobility. Together, Kodiak and Kyocera’s purpose-built technologies can cost-effectively and reliably augment and even replace many existing land mobile radio (LMR) deployments, while also providing an end-to-end solution for organizations just entering the realm of PTT usage. Kodiak offers greater coverage, reliability and sub-second call set up that can boost organization’s productivity and efficiency. Coupled with Kyocera’s market-leading rugged and waterproof mobile phones, together we stand committed to delivering long-lasting, low-cost PTT solutions to a variety of businesses.

John is director of corporate communications at Kyocera. He has worked on the Kyocera team shaping its communications strategy over the past 15 years – 13 of those years in-house and two with a Kyocera agency partner. John has always had a passion for writing and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Whittier Daily News, part of a multi-paper syndicate in Los Angeles.  When not working, he and his wife can usually be found coaching, shuttling, refereeing or cheering for his three sons and their numerous plays, concerts and sports teams. 

The Business of Building Demands Construction-Grade Mobility

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Like most industries, construction has been largely transformed by mobile technology. After all, this is a business whose decision-makers and front-line workers are heavily dispersed, yet they must collaborate (often in real-time) on high-dollar projects with tight deadlines and budgets, with many interdependencies and moving parts. The ability to connect those in the construction industry and provide instant access to back-end data, plans, procurement and models is empowering a wave of productivity across the supply chain and, to the benefit of builders, architects, engineers and subcontractors alike.

According to Autodesk, 75 percent of construction dollars are spent in the field, yet less than 10 percent of technology spending is allocated there. Companies rely on sophisticated software to manage the end-to-end construction process, and now, mobile devices are the primary method for gaining remote access to business-critical systems and information. Consequently, construction companies are extending the footprint of their in-house technology investments to improve communications, decision-making and response times in the field.

Mobile devices are helping deliver efficiencies across the following construction industry practices:

  • Project & Field Management – Smartphones and tablets are helping manage the entire lifecycle of a construction project, connecting the various people responsible for the information, processes, employees, subcontractors and suppliers. And because mobile devices come in many different flavors and with enterprise-management capabilities, different users are armed with the most appropriate devices and feature sets for their job requirements.
  • Communications & Connectivity – Feature phones and smartphones are being used to facilitate instant voice, text and email communications between jobsite workers and the main office. Push to Talk (PTT) capabilities also empower workers, subcontractors and suppliers with one-touch walkie-talkie style communications for instant communications to individuals or groups about safety conditions, deliveries, change requests and other time-sensitive events.
  • Materials & Resource Management – Materials are often procured and purchased at the corporate office, but supplies are delivered directly to the jobsites. As construction companies increasingly leverage Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for improved materials management, mobile devices can help automate this process with on-the-ground scanning capabilities and the ability to trigger instant notifications in the event of order shipment errors. In addition, these devices can provide project managers with remote-surveillance camera access to keep watch on potential theft or employee productivity when they are absent from job sites.

Rugged Devices Maximize Mobility Investments

Construction personnel at all levels are tapping mobile devices to improve communications and streamline efficiencies across the planning, designing and building phases of projects. A study by Engineering News Record estimates that 93 percent of general contractors and 87 percent of subcontractors use some sort of mobile device at construction sites.

These devices come in many flavors to accommodate virtually every type of worker and organizational budget. Feature phones and smartphones offer the greatest portability for laborers and their feature sets can be customized to user type, while larger-screen devices provide the convenience of a data-friendly display and are ideal for superintendents and project managers who require remote access to plans and 3D models, and who are more likely to interface regularly with back-end business systems.

Despite both the user and device type, rugged design is one requirement that should be inherent to every mobile device used in the construction industry. Along with support for virtually all Android-based productivity apps, Kyocera’s rugged devices are intentionally built to withstand construction jobsite conditions, which may include dusty, dirty, wet environments, as well as the threat of drops from heights. Kyocera’s rugged line is also designed with superior audio technology to facilitate loud, crisp and clear voice communications, even in the presence of noisy equipment and machinery.

Additional features offered by Kyocera’s rugged devices include:

  • Dust-proof and impact-resistant to maintain optimal performance and operational integrity;
  • Waterproof with the ability to survive immersion in up to 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes;
  • Highly-durable, scratch-resistant Sapphire Shield display in select devices that protects against incidents and the elements;
  • Continuous productivity with Glove and Wet Touchscreen Operation;
  • Certified non-incendive (Nonincendive, Class I, Division 2, Group A-D, T4) for use in some hazardous work environments where concentrations of flammable gases, vapors, or mists are not normally present in explosive concentrations but may exist
  • Certified to IP68 and Military Standard 810G ratings for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, high altitude, solar radiation, humidity and water emersion; and
  • Off-the-shelf support for both carrier-supported and downloadable PTT services to facilitate one-touch walkie-talkie style communications to individuals or groups.

According to VDC Research, rugged devices can save 46 percent on overall total cost of mobility in the workplace. Mobile devices enable project managers to remotely oversee multiple projects in various stages of construction, and arm every front-line worker with voice and/or data connectivity. With the ability to share videos, images and information between the construction office and field workers, companies benefit from improved workflows based on the most current data available. And when these organizations choose to go rugged, they are afforded increased longevity and reliability from the mobile devices deployed in the field.

Learn more about Kyocera’s construction-grade mobile devices, and how they are helping power enterprise mobility with our new article on empowering enterprise mobility with rugged devices and PTT.

Live from Mobile World Congress: Kyocera and its Partners Demo the Future of PTT, Mobile Enterprise Management and More

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Hola from España. Kyocera is in Barcelona this week for five days and nights of eating paella, drinking sangria, and, of course, defining the future of the wireless industry at the 2016 Mobile World Congress. We’re excited to be here with the movers and shakers of the mobile industry, including many of the partners with whom we collaborate closely to enable the future of ruggedized mobile devices.

Kyocera will be showing off our latest mobile phones and devices, including the recently announced DuraXE and DuraForce XD, and featuring our devices in the booths of some of our partners, including Qualcomm, SOTI and Mobile Tornado. If you’re on the ground in Barcelona, be sure to stop by their booths and see how we are working together to bring dependable, rugged devices to enterprise customers worldwide, and enabling new levels of connectivity, security and enterprise management.

Qualcomm (MWC 2016: Hall 3, Booth 3E310): Kyocera and Qualcomm share a long, rich history, as Kyocera’s North American mobile-phone business was formed through the acquisition of Qualcomm’s handset business in 2000. The relationship and partnership remain strong to this day. The companies’ offices are separated by a few miles and Kyocera continues to use Qualcomm’s top-notch Snapdragon processors in our devices.

SOTI (MWC 2016: Hall 5, Booth 5B40): Kyocera and SOTI have partnered to bring Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) software to rugged devices worldwide. Kyocera recently launched North America’s first LTE-capable feature phone, the DuraXE, which runs on an open-source operating system and uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 1.1 GHz quad-core CPU, typically used in smartphones. This is allows the device to support SOTI’s flagship product, MobiControl, so that enterprises can enable, optimize and secure their mobile workforces across all platforms, for both corporate-liable and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) polices.

Mobile Tornado (MWC 2016: Hall 5, Stand 5E81): Mobile Tornado provides leading professional Push To Talk over Cellular (PoC) and Wi-Fi solutions, and Kyocera partners with Mobile Tornado to deliver the highest-quality PTT solutions, particularly for wireless operator TELUS in Canada. Both companies ensure that Kyocera rugged devices are tested and certified for compatibility with the Mobile Tornado PTT client. This means better business connectivity and continuity in order to solve issues like latency, responsiveness and screen operability in extreme conditions.

MWC 2016 is sure to be full of innovative solutions for the wireless and mobile industry, and at Kyocera, we look forward to seeing how enterprise functionality and ruggedized design will continue to evolve. We look forward to seeing you on the show floor.

Lane Paxton is the senior director of marketing at Kyocera Communications. An industry veteran of 18 years with experience in marketing, product management and product development, Lane has been with Kyocera since July of 2008. Prior to Kyocera, he was responsible for product marketing and product planning for the U.S. and international business units at Gateway. Additionally, Lane was a co-founder of a successful software company and was a key driver in taking a wireless startup through IPO. When not working or shuttling his two kids to their activities, Lane likes to ride waves and mountains sideways…right foot forward.