April 14, 2022

Reflecting on Another Successful IWCE

While last year’s IWCE was the first dip in post-COVID waters for in-person events, this year’s International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) Conference in Las Vegas was more a true return to form for the conference. There were more sessions, more companies, and ultimately more wireless innovation showcased. Thanks to all the customers and partners that stopped by our booth to learn about some of the new public safety products we have in the docket for 2022. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the show this year.

Large Presence from the “Big Three” Mobile Carriers

For the first time in a while, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile all had a large presence at the show, signaling the growing emphasis of critical communications by the most important players in US telecommunications. AT&T was strongly promoting the importance of in-building systems complying with certain public-safety standards (i.e. using a 700MHz Band 14 spectrum) in order to have the best coverage and resiliency for first-responder communications on FirstNet.

T-Mobile participated in multiple panel discussions on disaster preparedness and response, multi-carrier interoperability challenges, and the shift from Public Safety Answering Points/Emergency Communication Centers to Next Generation 911 (NG911).

Verizon focused on the future of 5G, the shift from mmWave to C-band, and what said shift means for the public safety and national security industries. They also discussed how a resilient and reliable network matters for both industries to allow people to effectively communicate.

Smartphones Are Replacing LMR in Public Safety Communication

Public Safety communications goes through a series of changes each year, but there is a meta trend slowly growing over the last half decade that has finally begun to materialize this year. LMR is reaching its end of its life and AT&T’s FirstNet is gaining traction, signaling that some public safety professionals are ready to abandon LMR.

At IWCE, public safety professionals believe PTT (push-to-talk) over FirstNet will be the main source of mission-critical first responder communications. Unlike LMR, the solution has better, more reliable service with LTE networks and won’t require costly upgrades.

ADRF supports this shift as we believe LTE-based public safety will be great for innovation since it allows for more dynamic communication for first responders including Enhanced 911 (i.e. sending/receiving pictures of the crime), z-axis location accuracy (i.e. knowing precise location of people in a burning building) and much more to help coordinate emergency responses. It will also help ensure regular people have the connectivity to dial 911 from common dead zones such as stairwells, elevators or other areas. The reality is, most of the actual “first responders” to an incident are regular people.

“Back to code” – How 2022 NFPA and IFC code will influence all the different jurisdictions

At the end of the day, public safety is a code-driven industry and the future will be decided by the way codes are written and how AHJ’s interpret them. At IWCE, ADRF director of public safety, Dennis Burns, joined a panel on “How New IFC/NFPA Code Requirements Impact Public Safety Communication Professionals” to discuss this very topic alongside executive director of the Safer Building Coalition (SBC) Alan Purdue and other public safety thought leaders. 

Some of the most notable alignments of the 2022 NFPA and IFC codes include 12-hour long battery backup requirement without a generator, new requirements for passive device monitoring, such as splitters and antennas, and most importantly, UL 2524 Second Edition certification in order to be code compliant. Fortunately, ADRF’s PSR-U series of public safety repeaters is already UL 2524 compliant and ready to support jurisdictions that require compliance with the new NFPA and IFC codes.

Overall, IWCE 2022 was filled with cutting edge technology as well as informative educational sessions by critical comms, public safety, and wireless professionals. We already can’t wait for 2023, but for now, check out the video recap of our IWCE experience and see you all next year!