Each year the IWCE conference, which is all about Land Mobile Radio and Public Safety communications, is held in Las Vegas. This year’s event will be from February 20 through 24 and there will be a major focus on Public Safety Broadband. The conference is divided into two different types of events. On Monday and Tuesday (Feb 20 and 21) there are in-depth training sessions with the exhibits and conference sessions on Wednesday through Friday.
If you are interested in finding out more about Public Safety Broadband and LTE, this is the event to attend. You can attend the in-depth sessions on Monday and Tuesday for a fee. The rest of the week, for the price of conference admission (and in some cases for free) you can attend one or more of the sessions dealing with Public Safety Broadband and an open APCO Broadband Committee meeting, and find out more about the various National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) committees and sub-committee and what they are working on.
On Monday, the sessions of interest are “What Does IP Mean to Radio Communications?,” a half-day morning session, and “Land Mobile Radio for IT Professionals” a half-day afternoon session. This is a great course for those who are becoming involved in the world of two-way or Land Mobile Radio and have an IP background. There is also an afternoon course called “The Softer Side of Communications: Software Applications over IP.”
The choices for broadband education on Tuesday include one of the morning sessions, “Wireless Backhaul from Microwave to IP/MPLS, or 4G, LTE and Broadband,” which is an overview. In the afternoon, the choice for broadband information is a session on Mobile Data and Multimedia fundamentals.
These two days of seminars are pre-conference activities and are presented by commercial firms and course experts.
On Wednesday, the full conference kicks off with a keynote by Martin Cooper who is a wonderful speaker. Among other things he invented the first handheld cellular phone while he was at Motorola in the 1970s (yes, several years before the first cellular systems came online in the U.S.). He is a true innovator and futurist and I always enjoy listening to him speak.
The exhibit hall opens at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and stays open until 7:00 p.m. while the show’s own sessions start at 11 a.m. The first one on LTE, entitled “What Is LTE?,” is a panel discussion that I am moderating, and from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. there is a free keynote address called “LMR/LTE Vision for the Future” conducted by experts from Raytheon, Harris Public Safety, and Motorola. Starting at 1:30 p.m. there is a panel called “Voice over LTE and Broadband: Will it Replace LMR?,” which I am also moderating. I suggested that the title be changed to “The Myth of Mission-Critical Voice over LTE” but the organizers decided not to take my suggestion.
During the 3 p.m. time slot there are several panels of interest including “IP in an LMR World” and case studies on next-generation communications in airports. During the 4:30 p.m. sessions there is a panel on “Deploying LTE and Broadband Wireless in a Rural Setting” as well as one on a somewhat related topic of GPS interference and its effect on aviation, transportation, and defense, and my guess is that this panel will deal with the current LightSquared threat to GPS systems. From 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. that evening there is a network reception on the exhibit hall floor that is always fun to attend.
However, the 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. slot is also when the APCO Broadband Committee will hold its open meeting. I am vice-chair of this group so I will be there. Last year we had a great session. It is open to everyone who wants to attend and you will hear a report on our activities as well as the first public discussion on our sub-committee’s work on the design for a nationwide network. There will also be a presentation by the waiver recipients working group on interoperability choices and you will have an opportunity to take part in the open discussions as well as ask questions.
On Thursday the day starts out with a general session at 8:30 a.m. called “Technology, Governance and Funding. The Challenges of Building a Nationwide Broadband Network.” This panel includes a host of non-government and government officials who will provide us with insight into how the broadband network might play out. Then at 9:45 a.m. I am on another panel called “Turning 700 MHz Narrowband into Broadband.” Have you noticed that I get the panels that are really unpopular with Public Safety because the ideas make no sense?
The next series of sessions includes one on developing standards for broadband applications. The lunch and learn session is called “The CIOs Speak Out: The Connected City through Technology.” The three CIOs are all deeply involved in LTE deployments for Public Safety and include Seattle, Boston, and Richardson, Texas and it should be a great session. The first of the afternoon group of sessions include one called “Public/Private Partnerships Part 1: Adventures in Joint Venturing,” which should be very good. This is followed at 3:30 p.m. by the second part of this session as well as a panel on broadband spectrum options for critical infrastructure industries.
For any of you who are members or would like to join the Yahoo group Private Wireless Forum, which is a great sig of LMR professionals, attorneys, government radio professionals, vendors, and others with an interest in LMR and Public Safety radio, the creator of the PWF will be hosting a cocktail reception at a nice location within walking distance of the convention center. Contact me directly if you would like an invitation to attend; it is a great place to meet some of the best minds in the wireless business.
Friday, the last day of the conference, is a busy one. The General Session is a panel I will be participating in and the subject matter is the move from P25 to LTE, Co-existence, Migration and Timing. But it is also the day NPSTC hosts its all-day session to bring everyone up to date on the activities of its multiple committees working on broadband subjects. I will be joining this meeting right after the general session, but if you won’t be attending the NPSTC meeting there are three supersessions: one that deals with the various digital technologies; one that is about lessons learned on integration and interoperability; and the final one that discusses how to navigate the mobile road and control bandwidth, connections, and data consumption. The conference is over just after noon on Friday.
As you can see, it will be a full week for broadband at IWCE but there are also many sessions dealing with LMR issues including narrowbanding, systems design and others aspects of planning, building, operating, and maintaining LMR mission-critical Public Safety networks. The show floor will be full of companies waiting to talk to you about what they have to offer and what is next. Some of the companies I will be visiting include Alcatel-Lucent (broadband systems), Anritsu Company (test equipment for broadband systems), APCO (because I am a member), AT&T to see what is new in its world of broadband, Cassidian Communications, General Dynamics, Harris, Kenwood, Motorola, the Push-to-Talk organization, Radio Club of America (I am on the board), Radio IP Software, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, Tait Radio, ThermoBond Buildings (the last building I purchased was from them and it is great), Twisted Pair Solutions (a bright bunch of folks), Wilson Electronics, and I will stop at many other booths that catch my attention as I walk the floor.
IWCE is co-sponsored by Urgent Communications and it is a great show. For the record, I am not paid by anyone for my participation in any of the sessions nor am I paid by IWCE or Urgent. This article was written to provide our subscribers with an overview of the broadband focus of the show and not to promote the show. IWCE is a good event that is a lot of fun and I hope I will see many of you there!