Four business models for mobile broadband public safety communications

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1 Four business models for mobile broadband public safety communications To share or not to share? That is the question. White paper Public safety professionals require the highest level of reliable mobile communications, including broadband data services that deliver real-time imagery, video, location and mapping data and always-on connectivity to cloud based information. LTE provides the most cost-effective and secure way to support these services. The transition to LTE requires technical, operational and business expertise to ensure a smooth evolution for the public safety community. This white paper examines the advantages and disadvantages of the four main business models that bring such mobile broadband connectivity to first responders: MNO (contracting services through an existing mobile network operator), public safety MVNO (operating or getting service from an S-MVNO), dedicated (building a dedicated network), and hybrid (combining a public safety MVNO with a dedicated network). 1 White paper

2 Contents The mobile broadband imperative 3 Business models for critical communications over LTE 3 Contract services through an existing MNO 6 Operate or obtain service from an S-MVNO 7 Public safety dedicated network 9 Hybrid model (combining an S-MVNO with a dedicated network) 10 Is there a preferred model? 11 Acronyms 12 Contact 12 2 White paper

3 The mobile broadband imperative Public safety communications are at a tipping point. In today s world, the highest level of reliable, integrated mobile communications means not only mission-critical voice, but also real-time imagery, video, location and mapping data, and high-speed access to private cloud-based information and applications. These demands must also be matched with dependable, real-time coordination between multiple government agencies. Existing private mobile radio (PMR) systems, based on APCO Project 25 (P25), Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) and TETRAPOL standards, cannot deliver this set of capabilities, because they were designed primarily to support mission-critical voice. However, standards-based Long Term Evolution (LTE) the global mobile broadband technology can greatly enhance operational effectiveness and coordination within a secure infrastructure shared by cooperating agencies, and has now been endorsed by major mission-critical users and industry associations, such as APCO and the TCCA. When evolving to mobile broadband, a public safety agency may choose from numerous business models that will support its specific needs, taking into account existing mission-critical network operations, available spectrum, regulatory environment and financial resources. It may contract services provided by a mobile network operator (MNO), operate or use a service from a dedicated virtual network over a mobile operator s infrastructure (public safety mobile virtual network operator [MVNO]), build a wholly owned and operated dedicated network, or use a mix of different approaches. We can already see some concrete examples of these different models in the market: The police of New York decided to equip officers with smartphones using a contract from a commercial service provider. In the UK, the government decided to go for a public safety MVNO, which is relying on a commercial access network operated by EE. In the US, the nationwide public safety network, FirstNet, will rely on both dedicated and commercial access networks. This is a hybrid solution. Qatar has a dedicated nationwide LTE network, which is owned and operated by the government. Business models for critical communications over LTE Public safety agencies migrating to LTE broadband networks must consider many factors that will influence the selection of their optimal deployment model. The most important ones are as follows. 3 White paper

4 Spectrum availability and implementation timeline Spectrum is a critical asset for deployment of a dedicated public safety network. Its assignment for public safety varies across the world: there is no worldwide harmonization. However, in Europe, a flexible harmonization has been adopted that recommends 400 MHz and 700 MHz spectrum (Bands 31, 28 and 68) for PPDR, each country defining its own rollout strategy (ECC Report 218, October 2015). The US has allocated MHz in Band 14 (700 MHz) to broadband public safety. This allocation provides a basic starting point for implementing its national FirstNet interoperable broadband initiative. Korea has allocated MHz in Band 28 (700 MHz) for the dedicated public safety network. The implementation timeline and the spectrum availability will influence the type of network implementation. If high-speed mobile data connectivity is urgently needed, while spectrum is not yet available, then the dedicated network option cannot be considered, at least in the initial phase of the project. However sharing the radio access network (RAN) of an existing commercial LTE network (MVNO) that is providing good population coverage will enable a quick start of the broadband services to first responders. Coverage A very strong requirement for public safety services is coverage. Commercial MNOs are providing good coverage in dense urban areas, but first responders also have to operate in semi-urban and rural areas. Provision of such coverage will be essential to public safety agencies. This criterion is also directly linked to the spectrum. The lower frequencies are more cost efficient as they require fewer sites to achieve the same coverage; however, the drawbacks with lower frequencies are limited availability and the need to add an additional capacity layer on higher frequencies, particularly for dense urban areas. CAPEX/OPEX In the context of tight public spending, what budget can governments allocate to public safety communications modernization, and how will that budget be split between CAPEX and OPEX? Here, an analysis of the TCO over a relevant period (7 or 20 years), will be critical to help assess the cost of the different options that can be considered, and determine which ones could best fit budget constraints. 4 White paper

5 Mission-critical requirements Public safety agencies have specific requirements in terms of security, high availability and quality of service (QoS) that are not necessary deployed in commercial LTE networks. Key security aspects include end-to-end application ciphering, network protection and secure device management. High availability is achieved through resilient architectural design, taking into account georedundancy of core sites, resiliency in the IP network, redundancy of network elements and guaranteed power supplies. For prioritizing mission-critical voice and data and emergency calls over nonmission-critical and commercial voice and data, access classes, admission control, pre-emption and QoS parameters can be used. Depending on the level of requirements, there will be impact on the network design and specific cost associated to it. If mission-critical services are carried over an existing MNO network, the level of security and resilience of that network might need to be improved. So additional investment on the MNO network will need funding. This is the case of EE in the UK. Number of users and capacity The number of users as well as their expected consumption patterns will have a direct impact on how the network and/or the service will be dimensioned. This will also be a critical factor when assessing the TCO of the different models. Over time, the gathering of all public safety agencies (police, firefighters, emergency medical services, customs, etc.) under the same interoperable communications system, which is another driver for evolving toward mobile broadband, will also have to be considered when assessing the TCO of the different models. In view of these key criteria, this paper discusses the advantages and challenges from following models: MNO: Contract services through an existing mobile network operator S-MVNO: Operate or use services through a secure mobile virtual network operator Dedicated: Build, own and operate a dedicated network for dedicated services Hybrid: Combine an MVNO approach with a dedicated network. 5 White paper

6 Figure 1. Responsibility of MNOs vs public safety agencies Access network MNO responsibility Core network Application platform Customer care MNO S-MVNO Hybrid Dedicated network Public safety agency responsibility Contract services through an existing MNO In this model, the public safety agency simply contracts data subscriptions with an MNO to provide mobile broadband services. Public safety agencies may want to buy their own ruggedized devices and manage them, and in most cases specific public safety applications will be their responsibility. As shown in Figure 2, public safety users and consumers share the same spectrum and network. The public safety entity pays a consistent, predictable periodic fee for network access, usually a function of some known factor, such as the number of end users, devices or usage. Figure 2. Contract services through an existing MNO Mobile network operator AS, IMS, PCRF HSS MME enb S/P-GW Shared spectrum Public safety apps Public safety agencies MNO owned and operated Public safety agency owned and operated Advantages The advantages of this model are: Fast time-to-market as commercial mobile operators typically have existing networks with good coverage and available services No specific spectrum needed to run the mission-critical services 6 White paper

7 Scalability, as It allows access to the very important capacity that an MNO can provide. In case of crisis, a prioritization mechanism can be activated to support a large number of first responders concentrated in a fairly small area. Elimination of the need to plan and allocate funding for network deployment, upgrades, maintenance contracts and training a team for network operations, which results in much lower infrastructure investment cost. These expenses are all handled by the MNO, which is responsible for keeping the platform current, resolving all technical issues and ensuring the appropriate level of service negotiated with the public safety agencies. Challenges Commercial networks are not mission-critical grade. The public safety authority will thus need to define the service level agreements (SLAs) with the MNO. It will be a trade-off between the requirements for coverage, availability, prioritization and resilience for mission-critical needs on the one hand, and on the other hand the cost impact, which will be paid through higher subscription fees or setup fees. An example is a feature such as priority access or network redundancy in case of an outage. This will have impact on investments and the business case of the MNO. The SLA between public safety authorities and MNO,will generally include a pre-emption mechanism for first responders in case of crisis. Nevertheless, the MNO will have to confirm this can be done from a legal standpoint. Observations Please also note that public safety traffic profiles differ greatly from those of commercial users. For example, services such as mobile video protection may consume large volumes of uplink data. A daily uplink transmission of two hours of an HD video stream will consume more than 50 gigabits monthly. Public safety agencies will have to take this into account when discussing SLA and price with their MNO. Operate or obtain service from an S-MVNO The MVNO approach has become prevalent in the commercial sector, where branded operators resell bulk-purchased wireless services to consumers while providing their own usage plans, billing and customer support. The MVNO approach can be extended to the support of public safety users. In that case, the MVNO, called a secure-mvno (S-MVNO), which is operated by a dedicated public safety service provider, provides added-value services (such as secure public safety applications, user and device management, customer care, endto-end security, billing and so on) to the different public safety users. They get access to secure broadband data services when the S-MVNO leverages the 4G access network from one or several different MNOs. 7 White paper

8 Different S-MVNO business models may apply, depending on whether the S-MVNO owns and operates, for example, the subscriber database and the full Evolved Packet Core or only some of the elements. S-MVNO services can be operated by the public safety entity itself or by a public or private organization. Figure 4 depicts a full S-MVNO model operated by a public safety organization itself. Figure 3. S-MVNO model Public safety services HSS AS, IMS, PCRF MME S/P-GW Public safety apps S/P-GW MME enb Shared or dedicated spectrum MNO MNO owned and operated Public safety agency owned and operated Advantages The S-MVNO model offers most of the previous model advantages: Fast time-to-market, even though in that case it will probably be longer as the S-MVNO side of the network will have to be deployed and tested No spectrum needed Scalability, through access to the MNO large capacity in case of crisis or large event Moderate network investment, although a bit higher than in the MNO model. Depending on the chosen MVNO approach, it will focus on selected LTE core network elements and respective management systems. Provides more control over services and security than the MNO approach, as important network elements are under the public safety service provider s responsibility. A public safety MVNO can manage services, users and its own network elements with preferred prioritization and secure control over user profiles. Ability to leverage network coverage from multiple MNOs. 8 White paper

9 Challenges As with the MNO model, an S-MVNO will rely on the access networks of commercial MNOs, which are not mission-critical and may not offer the expected coverage. A proper SLA will have to be negotiated with the MNOs to achieve the right balance between mission-critical network enhancements and their cost impact for public safety agencies. Here also the legal feasibility of preemption mechanisms will have to be confirmed by the MNO. Observations This model requires stringent SLAs between the MVNO and the MNOs, particularly in case of extraordinary events such as crisis or disaster recovery. Public safety dedicated network In this model the government, in collaboration with the public safety agencies finances, procures, builds and manages its own network. It takes full responsibility for all network elements and software, and the deployment, management, operation and maintenance of the network. The extent of upfront costs depends on the scale of deployment (local, regional or national), whether the network is shared among several entities and whether the deployment is scheduled gradually over years or within a shorter time period. An alternative scenario of this model is when network operations are outsourced to a specialized company (managed services). Figure 4. Public safety dedicated network Public safety services HSS AS, IMS, PCRF MME S/P-GW Dedicated spectrum Public safety apps enb Public safety agency owned and operated Advantages The main advantage with a dedicated LTE network is that the governmental agency has full control over the procurement and the decision-making process. A dedicated network offers the highest level of protection against intrusion. Coverage in semi-urban or rural areas can be more easily taken into account and optimized up-front, leveraging existing assets of the PMR network. There won t be any discussion about legal feasibility of some elements of an SLA with an MNO. 9 White paper

10 From several engagements around the world, we also often found that OPEX might be lower for the public safety operator. This will significantly impact the TCO over a long period of time (7 to 20 years). Nevertheless, we can t generalize this statement and it will have to be studied on a case-by-case basis. Challenges A prerequisite for this model is that LTE spectrum has been dedicated for public safety and has been cleared of any previous service, which may require a long planning cycle. Specifying, building and maintaining a dedicated network require significant upfront investments. If the allocated spectrum band is not in use in the commercial sector, it will further increase the cost of the entire system including network elements and devices. In some countries the narrow spectrum allocated to public safety can limit the capacity offered to first responders. This can be the case in a crisis in a given spot with many public safety officers in action. Hybrid model (combining an S-MVNO with a dedicated network) Governmental agencies that are finding the completely dedicated public safety network too costly to implement will consider the hybrid model. A typical scenario is that dedicated RAN is built in selected areas and commercial mobile operator networks are leveraged in other areas to complement the coverage. Figure 5. Hybrid model Public safety services HSS AS, IMS, PCRF MME S/P-GW Public safety apps S/P-GW MME enb MNO MNO owned and operated Public safety agency owned and operated This model brings together the advantages and challenges of previous models. 10 White paper

11 Advantages It offers the scalability and the capacity to get started quickly with the MNO model, with the security, control and coverage of a dedicated network. It brings flexibility and positions the public safety agency for future evolution to a fully dedicated network if that is the selected approach. Challenges The upfront investment in a dedicated network will still be required, although it can be optimized to leverage existing coverage offered by MNOs. Here again a stringent SLA with its associated costs will have to be clearly defined between the public safety operator and the MNO. This model is the most complex from network design and operational point of view. To fully benefit from both the public safety network and the MNO networks, handsets will have to support all the different LTE bands, which might be an issue of availability (at least within a short timeframe) as well as of cost. Is there a preferred model? This short analysis shows that no single model provides many more advantages over the others. Each government will have to conduct an indepth analysis of its situation, its requirements and priorities to find the best choice, matching its operational needs and financial criteria. The Nokia Bell Labs business consulting team has already performed such in-depth analyses for public safety agencies. We can leverage this expertise to help governments find the best model fitting their specific constraints and needs. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of using LTE for public safety is that it leaves the options fairly open. Public safety agencies will not be locked into the model they chose initially; they will be able to change the model as their needs and situation evolve over time, while protecting their initial investment. We might very well see governments starting with a MNO model, evolving toward an S-MVNO model, and finishing with a dedicated network or perhaps starting with a dedicated network but evolving toward a hybrid approach. Last, but not least,when choosing the best overall design and business model, agencies should also have a plan for doctrine change management, because the wealth of robust data will offer new ways of conducting operations. Regardless of the model chosen, the network must be defined through an end-to-end service-centric approach. This approach enables operational support to be maintained from the core through the network to the end user. 11 White paper

12 Acronyms 4G APCO CAPEX ECC EPC LMR LTE LTE-A MNO MVNO OPEX PPDR PMR Project 25/P25 QoS RAN S-MVNO SLA TCCA TCO TETRA TETRAPOL Contact 4th generation of mobile telecommunications technology Association of Public Safety Communications Professionals capital expenditures Electronic Communications Committee Evolved Packet Core land mobile radio Long Term Evolution LTE Advanced mobile network operator mobile virtual network operator operating expenditures public protection and disaster relief private (or professional) mobile radio A suite of standards for public safety digital radio communications mainly used in North America quality of service radio access network secure mobile virtual network operator service level agreement TETRA and Critical Communications Association total cost of ownership Terrestrial Trunked Radio Standards for public safety digital radio communications used throughout the world Philippe Agard, VP Public Safety and Defense Markets Nokia Nokia is a registered trademark of Nokia Corporation. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks or trade names of their respective owners. Nokia Oyj Karaportti 3 FI Espoo Finland Tel (0) Product code: SR EN (November) 2016 Nokia nokia.com

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