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Telstra announces world-first radio trial for emergency services


In a world first Telstra has completed trials of a new service known as Group Radio Solution that could see Australian emergency service organisations use the Telstra Next G" network to operate their emergency radio communications.

If interest is expressed by private mobile radio network operators, the Group Radio Solution capability designed by Ericsson could be made available across the Next G™ network footprint and complement existing essential and emergency radio networks.

Telstra is also working with mobile device manufacturers to design a prototype that would allow mobile voice and data services as well as two-way radio functionality on a single device should Telstra decide to deploy the Group Radio Solution.

Australia’s emergency service organisations currently use a range of different technologies such as mobile phones and two-way radios to communicate with each other. This mix of technologies may restrict the ability for some emergency services to communicate with each other, and means many emergency service personnel carry around both radios and mobile phones.

The Group Radio Solution was put through its initial paces late last year by Telstra and Ericsson to understand the potential application and capability of the technology for essential and emergency services.

Telstra Wireless executive director Mike Wright said the trial found a very real potential to combine the advantages of Telstra’s expansive Next G™ coverage footprint and range of services with the specific needs of private radio network operators.

“The extreme weather conditions over the past week illustrate the extraordinary challenges our emergency services organisations face and it’s at these times when communications are paramount,” Mr Wright said.

"While the technology is in its early days, the Group Radio Solution could some day provide a single network to help Australia’s emergency services organisations provide a rapid and synchronised response, especially in large-scale disasters that cross state and territory borders.

“In turn, this can foster a clearer and quicker assessment of incidents, as well as facilitate effective command, control and co-ordination across the various organisations and their agents and assets in the field.”

“If we proceed with this technology, it will provide a complementary interworking service to our existing private emergency networks by allowing customers to use the same device to access advanced private radio features, together with their mobile voice and broadband services.”

Ericsson Australia/NZ VP Business Development and Marketing Tony Malligeorgos said the demonstration of this integration was the culmination of several years of collaboration with Telstra and Harris Corporation, Ericsson’s technology partner for Group Radio Solution.

“Ericsson’s Group Radio Solution has been developed to address the critical communications needs of professional mobile radio users. The convergence of voice, video, data and GPS location into multi-function 3G handsets now enables emergency services to improve their operational communications,” Mr Malligeorgos said.

The Group Radio Solution is being demonstrated at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) annual conference at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre. Telstra will make a decision about the potential broad deployment of Group Radio Solution following consultation with the industry.

At this year’s APCO Australasia 2010 Conference and Exhibition Telstra has also launched a white paper Public Safety and Security outlining the increasing challenges faced by emergency services and explores technological changes that could potentially help them cope with the challenges of the future.


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