Paris, 14 May 2013
ARCEP held a consultation on professional mobile radio (PMR) systems from 8 October to 30 November 2012.
PMR networks are systems that are independent from the cellular mobile service, generally local or regional in scale and used for professional purposes. This category of system includes public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) networks which are used to perform government duties, and are put into place by the ministries of defence and of the interior.
The purpose of the ARCEP consultation was to obtain feedback from stakeholders on the future outlook for PMR networks and their spectrum needs, particularly in relation to the development of broadband and ultra-fast broadband systems. Today we are publishing a summary of the responses and all of the contributions we received.
ARCEP received some 20 contributions in all, most of which were from users or associations representing the heaviest users of these professional mobile radio networks, manufacturers, installers/contractors and their unions and representative bodies, as well as public PMR network operators.
The public consultation provided PMR stakeholders with an opportunity to express their needs
Stakeholders' main point of emphasis was the need for a sufficient quantity of radio spectrum resources, for the following two reasons in particular.
- To satisfy existing requirements, i.e. created by the current use of PMR systems. These include chiefly narrowband voice and data services, providing access to certain functions that are available only on these PMR networks such as direct (e.g. walkie-talkie) calls, group calling, instant calling, guaranteed access to the resource and monitoring radio coverage.
- Future broadband and ultra-fast broadband PMR network needs. This includes new types of data transmission such as video, collecting data from industrial systems and transportation systems (trains, planes), real-time file sharing and disaster management.
According to stakeholders, LTE is the technology best suited to satisfy their future broadband and ultra-fast broadband PMR network needs. The results of the consultation nevertheless make it difficult to obtain an accurate assessment of exactly how much spectrum will be needed. This could only be achieved through a detailed estimate of all users' functional needs, although some contributors provided an overall estimate of around two 10 MHz duplex blocks to satisfy civilian PMR requirements.
Lessons learned from the consultation demand the following work be undertaking or continued
- Examine the possibility of introducing LTE onto current PMR bands. A more in-depth examination of the occupancy and management of PMR bands today will be needed to assess the feasibility of introducing LTE channels. However, given the current intensity of use in certain areas, particularly densely populated ones, it is by no means certain that existing bands will be able to satisfy all needs nationwide.
- Identify potential additional frequencies for broadband and ultra-fast broadband PMR services. Those who responded to the consultation underscored the appeal of 700 MHz to enable the introduction of a broadband channelling arrangement for PMR. This frequency band is currently the focus of international efforts which include examining mobile services' spectrum requirements.
- Create greater opportunities for pooling network resources. The contributions highlighted the value, first, of continuing to explore possibilities of pooling network resources between government and civilian applications for security networks, to have enough spectrum resources to deploy broadband networks. And, second, the value of using public mobile network services to satisfy certain broadband and ultra-fast broadband access requirements.
In light of the contributions received and the suggested directions they provide, ARCEP will continue to work on this issue in concert with stakeholders from the public and private sector.