Nice 4G-for-plods demo, Samsung. Good luck actually selling it

3GPP Rel.12 shows its colours under chaebol's direction

Samsung has staked its claim towards being an integral part of the emergency services with a demonstration of its public safety solution - the first based on the 3GPP Rel.12 standard - using LTE technology.

A post on the official Samsung blog explains how 80 devices were connected to a network to demonstrate PS-LTE, or Public Service 4G.

The standard has been in the planning stage for some time, so although it was only completed and released less than three months ago, it’s always been clear what would be included - and the South Korean giant was instrumental in its design.

The demonstration showed end-to-end services with the newly-developed base station, LTE Core, IMS Core, application server and devices.

"The live demonstration of our PS-LTE solution is a significant achievement," said Youngky Kim, President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “It takes us one step closer to successfully participating and building the world’s first nationwide Public Safety network with LTE Technology.”

The live demonstration, which was held at Samsung Electronics’ Digital City in Suwon, South Korea, showed how Samsung’s PS-LTE solution could be used during a real emergency situation.

When an emergency situation occurs, the solution provides relevant parties with an optimal transmitting method, such as voice, multimedia Push-To-Talk (PTT) and video conference services.

The eMBMS technology to connect multiple devices with simultaneously transmitted HD video is akin to LTE-Broadcast, which is being tested by a number of hardware vendors and networks.

Samsung claims eMBMS is efficient at managing the available bandwidth, critical during massive disasters that require more than 1,000 personnel for the rescue mission. Without eMBMS, only a dozen devices can live stream the HD video in one cell, whereas eMBMS enables more than 1,000 devices.

The company is claiming it's the first version of the international mobile specifications which can replace current emergency communications, systems designed for voice and which are now hopelessly outdated. We'll see.


In practice, Release 12 isn’t man enough for the public service job. All the good stuff – including Push to Talk and groups - is in later releases. Some appear in release 13, but eMBMS doesn’t work with groups. Groups don’t work with relays, and device-to-device is a long way off.

And all of this assumes that public service emergencies happen in places where there is decent 4G coverage, and that the public won’t mind the emergency services being used by those saving them rather than calling for help.

There are too many unresolved issues with LTE for it to be a sensible emergency services solution, and no-one is going to buy Release 12 to replace a TETRA system. However, the Samsung demonstration has put down a marker to both rivals and potential customers, proving that the Korean company is serious.

A more interesting potential market is replacing GSM-R, which many railways use with their own private spectrum. How interesting PS-LTE will be to them will depend on how much spectrum they have. ®

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