Catalyst is Moving!

Growth Drives Relocation to Larger Facilities

Catalyst Communications Technologies, a leader in mission critical dispatch, interoperability, and incident command solutions to the First Responder community, today announced our relocation to new headquarters facilities at:

107 Vista Centre Drive

Forest, VA 24551

The new headquarters is close to Catalyst’s prior building, and the phone number stays the same: 434-582-6146.

The move to larger facilities was driven by the growth Catalyst has experienced over the past few years. Robin Grier, president of Catalyst was gratified to acknowledge “A growth driven move is cause for celebration and reflection on the success we’ve had over the years. I am grateful to the Catalyst Team, Customers and Partners who have supported our mission. I’m looking forward to hosting you at our new headquarters – the invitation is open!”

Catalyst Solutions Engineer Jerry Adams promoted to IEEE Senior Member

Jerry Adams has earned a promotion within the IEEE community as Senior Member. Amarnath Raja, Chair, IEEE Admission and Advancement Committee, acknowledged “IEEE Senior Membership is an honor bestowed only to those who have made significant contributions to the profession.”

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.

When Jerry is not engaged with activities that improve the future of humanity, he can be found on his bass boat in tournaments throughout Georgia and the Southeast.

Here at Catalyst, we’re proud of Jerry and his accomplishments. Pass along a CONGRATULATIONS when you see him.

Catalyst’s Professional Organization Participation

Catalyst has been an innovator and leading technology proponent to the critical communications market space for over 20 years and more evidence of that position is represented by our contributions to the leading technical and professional organizations that serve our industry. Some Catalyst employees are members of IEEE -the world’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology – and take advantage of the technical and educational opportunities offered by this worldwide organization.

Catalyst has been a member of PTIG – the Project 25 Interest Group, for many years. The purpose of the group is to promote the P25 standard and educate interested parties about the benefits of the standard. In addition to Catalyst’s wide portfolio of P25 standard products, we participate with PTIG during seminars and trade shows where PTIG has a presence.

Another influential standards creating body is TIA – the Telecommunications Industry Association. TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a standards developing organization (SDO). TIA’s engineering committees create standards and technical documents based on guidelines established by the ANSI Essential Requirements. Catalyst participates in the TR8.18 Wireline systems (ISSI) Working group to keep our customers current with standards for that LMR interface.

ATIS – The Alliance for Telecommunications Standards – is another professional organization with Catalyst Association. We sit in on the JLMRLTE meetings (In North America, the ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications
Industry Solutions) TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association) TR-8.8 (Broadband Data Solutions) Joint Project Committee (JLMRLTE) is defining the LMR interface for Interworking. At its core, the organization exists to support a competitive, interoperable market. Their work creates the critical common base upon which our members can further their own innovation. Catalyst observes in working group meetings to further interoperability between different vendor radio systems.

NPSTC – the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council – is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership. NPSTC regularly submits comments, ex parte communications, and filings to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) via the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) and to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and speaks as a voice for it’s community to FirstNet(tm). NPSTC produces reports that are developed by the cumulative efforts of many volunteers’ time, energy, and knowledge to benefit the public safety communications community. Catalyst participates in working group meetings that help craft the positions that NPSTC takes on behalf of its community.

Catalyst has developed a number of interfaces to the Digital Mobile Radio standard and are members of the Digital Mobile Radio Association – DMRA. The Association works with members, worldwide, to ensure that DMR Digital Mobile Radio is the most widely supported digital business radio standard. Members are companies, organisations and individuals who use or build DMR products professionally or those working to support the DMR standard in other ways. 

While many individuals contribute to, and take advantage of, the information flow back and forth between Catalyst and these professional organizations, the effort is led by IEEE member Jerry Adams, Catalyst’s solution engineer. Jerry’s ability to synthesize volumes of data, and to represent Catalyst’s position on competing ideas put forth for standards consideration, help insure that Catalyst customers are at the leading edge of technology developments in the critical communications industry.

New White Paper “The Compelling Case for Standards Compliant Interworking” Available for Download

A new White Paper to help explain why Interworking between LMR and LTE public safety users needs to be based upon standards, and the dangers of using proprietary Push to Talk over cellular services, can now be downloaded from the Catalyst website.

Head over to https://www.catcomtec.com/download-interworking-white-paper/, and you have two choices. Select The Compelling Case for Standards Compliant Interworking – FINAL to download this Interworking White Paper.

This paper is comprehensive and 20 pages long. TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read)? Then Select the 6 page summary The Compelling Case for Standards Compliant Interworking – abridged.

These papers provide valuable education for First Responders and other public safety officials as we navigate new, uncharted waters with FirstNet and other mission critical push to talk services on LTE Networks. Contact us at interworking@catcomtec.com if you have any questions or comments about LMR LTE Interworking.

Catalyst contributes to Mission Critical Services Standard testing at ETSI MCX Plugtest #5

LMR LTE Interworking Services from Catalyst compliant with 3GPP Standards for Mission Critical Push to Talk

Catalyst Communications Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of IP-based Dispatch, Interoperability and Incident Command solutions for Critical Communications, demonstrated its solution with other leading vendors of mission critical communications services at the recent ETSI sponsored plugtest. Catalyst was able to demonstrate LMR LTE interworking and dispatch while conforming with the Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT) standard as defined in 3GPP Releases.

ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute), with the support of the European Commission, EFTA, TCCA and UIC, organized the fifth MCX Plugtests event. This year’s testing took place as a remote-only event from 21st September to 9th October 2020 as a result of COVID-19.

According to ETSI, Plugtests events serve two main purposes: They provide essential feedback to our technical committees to help us improve our standards and to accelerate the standards-making process, and they enable engineers to get together to test the interoperability of their implementations – which can reduce a product’s time-to-market. The benefits of such events include: improving the interoperability of products and services, supporting the deployment of new technologies, enabling networking between partners, competitors and other experts, and validating our standards. The concept of “Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT)”, “Mission Critical Data (MCData)” and “Mission Critical Video (MCVideo)” started with 3GPP Release-13 and is ongoing in current Releases. Interoperability and Mission Critical service harmonization are critical challenges for the successful deployment and operation of Mission Critical Communication. Catalyst provides LMR LTE Interworking services that are compliant with the 3GPP standard for mission critical voice, and on the LMR side, compliant with standards developed for P25 and DMR, and a number of vendor specific radio communications and control interfaces.

For the 5th ETSI MCX Plugtests Event, Catalyst’s goal was to connect our MCPTT Gateway to other vendor’s MC Application Servers to test interoperability through several test cases that make up the 3GPP Release-15 MC Services standard. Our primary focus was to configure our product and demonstrate MCPTT functionalities with different MCS Application Servers while also gaining access to MCX Services that are not available in our lab. Catalyst has tested compatibility with a significant number of other vendors who are building mission critical applications in conformance with the 3GPP standard.  Catalyst believes that these types of collaborative events between different manufacturer’s and their solutions is instrumental in creating and maintaining Mission Critical interoperability that is technology and vendor agnostic.

Catalyst to Exhibit at Virtual IWCE 2020

Online Virtual Trade Show and Conference transformed from an in-person event into a digital experience due to Covid 19 restrictions

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Catalyst Communications Technologies, Inc., will participate Virtual IWCE 2020 to be held Monday through Thursday, August 24- 27. Catalyst will be part of the Virtual Expo Hall, a fully interactive experience allowing attendees to engage with Catalyst professionals and learn of our recent product and technology contributions to the critical communications industry.

The virtual booth platform simulates the experience of a face-to-face meeting. Catalyst sales professionals will be on hand to engage visitors through the live video chat functionality which will facilitate real-time interaction. The virtual booth serves as a private session between Catalyst and attendees. Catalyst can receive visitors live, and we’ll have both pre-recorded demonstrations to guide the conversation as well as scheduled presentations of our IntelliLink™ Interworking solution at specific times. The virtual booth platform supports 1-to-1 conversations in separate breakout rooms where your specific questions can be answered fully.

In addition to IntelliLink™ Interworking, we’ll be showcasing InterLoc™, our location services solution; ICE™, our Incident Command and advanced vehicular repeater solution; and our impressive line of Mission Critical Dispatch solutions. Our demonstrations will have a strong LTE/FirstNet™ flavor, as IntelliLink™ Interworking enables standards compliant communications between LMR subscribers and users on LTE cell phones with Mission Critical Push to Talk applications, and our Dispatch solutions will demonstrate dispatch to both LMR and LTE devices.

Catalyst will also participate in the virtual online conference. “Tech Talks” are short, 15-20 minute sessions to bring attendees up to speed on the latest technology development, and on Wednesday, August 26, from 1:30 pm – 1:45 pm, Catalyst president Robin Grier will join Sridhar Kowdley from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and Chris Kindelspire from Grundy County (IL) 911 / Sheriff’s Office to talk about Bridging the Gap: LMR/LTE Interworking. Also, Robin is a panelist on an exciting session exploring MCPTT and PoC over Broadband – Are They Really Mission Critical? Donny Jackson, Editor of IWCE’s Urgent Communications magazine, will be moderator of this session, to be held on Thursday, August 27, from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm.

More information about Catalyst and our participation in Virtual IWCE 2020 will be release over the coming weeks. We hope to meet you – virtually – during the show!

 

 

More Details about Catalyst’s Interworking Announcement – How Nemergent helps the Catalyst Development Team

logo_h_NemergentSolutions

With the excitement about our IntelliLink™ Interworking announcement, we have received many inquiries about our development process. We’re using development tools and software libraries from Softil, our Israeli partner we identified in our IntelliLink Interworking launch (and a separate Press Release from Softil, also announced on our blog). However there’s another technology partner that’s critical to our success, so get to know Nemergent.

Some of you have asked how we can develop and test our products to insure they are compliant with 3GPP LTE Networks, and FirstNet™ specifically. And that’s where Nemergent comes in. Nemergent provides a development and test environment that includes a complete software suite of 3GPP MCS-compliant components. Their tools provide an Application Server that “behaves” like a LTE network, and a Management Server that provides a number of required background tasks necessary for making an Interworking connection to LTE, including Identity Management, Configuration Management, Group Management and Key Management. These management tools are just as important as passing voice and meta data between the networks! Catalyst can be confident that software developed using Nemergent tools will be compatible with 3GPP LTE Networks like FirstNet due to Nemergent’s expertise with a fully standard MCPTT ecosystem. Nemergent is headquartered in Spain, demonstrating that best in class technology, and the development of mission critical communications over LTE Networks, is a global challenge.

The participation of multiple partners is critical to achieve the best results. No one company can tackle these challenges alone – and if they can, they cannot be taking advantages of best in class technology and innovation that derives from companies with excellence in their area of expertise. Catalyst is proud to lead the effort to develop standards compliant LMR LTE Interworking, and we couldn’t do it without our technology partners!

 

Catalyst Chooses Softil Technology for DHS LMR/MCPTT Interworking Gateway and Dispatch Consoles

Pioneering communications gateway IntelliLink providing first MCPTT voice interoperability bridge between LTE and LMR systems

Radio Control over IP solutions provider Catalyst Communications Technologies and the world’s leading enabler of mission-critical communications (MCC or MCX) Softil today jointly announce that Softil’s BEEHD technology has been selected to build Catalyst’s  IntelliLink™ Interworking  solutions as well as Dispatch Consoles for FirstNet™ and other standards-based MCX networks around the world.

First responders currently rely upon Land Mobile Radio (LMR) analog and digital radios to communicate in the field. Radios offer familiar simplicity and reliability when it comes to emergency communications. While MCX technologies offer much greater capabilities, enriching traditionally voice push to talk communications with video, message chat and file exchange, the transition from radio communications to MCX communications will not be instantaneous.

As with any new technology, it will require time for first responders to migrate to MCX technologies. Switching to MCX will also require investments by first responder organizations. A transitional bridge between LMR and MCX allows first responders to start using new MCX technologies gradually without abandoning previous investments.

Intellilink™ Interworking solutions are that bridge and the first in the emerging MCX landscape. They have been developed by the Catalyst and Softil teams under a contract to Catalyst from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) under its Small Business Innovation and Research program.

“Catalyst chose Softil as its technology partner for the DHS program following careful analysis of available MCX-enabling solutions and we concluded that Softil’s BEEHD SDK solution was clearly ahead of the competition,” says Catalyst’s President, Robin Grier. “Our teams have since collaborated closely to develop our IntelliLink Interworking Solution in just a handful of months.”

“Enabling interworking communications between First Responders using existing public safety LMR radios and those using mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) compliant devices on the new FirstNet™ National Public Safety Broadband Network is a win-win for all involved in public safety,” adds Pierre Hagendorf, Softil’s CEO. “The pioneering IntelliLink™ solution is an accelerator for widespread deployments of 3GPP standards-based MCX networks.”

Softil’s BEEHD technology is a cross-platform client framework designed for chipset vendors, device manufacturers, system integrators, application developers and service providers to develop IP-based mission-critical voice and video communications over LTE (VoLTE and ViLTE) solutions.

Catalyst’s Dispatch Consoles are FirstNet™ ready and allow dispatchers to control interworking between LMR and LTE/MCPTT talk groups through an intuitive graphical user interface.

Catalyst Introduces Intellilink™ Interworking – Innovation in LMR LTE Communications for FirstNet™

Standards Compliant solution enables communications between MCPTT devices on LTE Networks including FirstNet™ and legacy Land Mobile Radio subscriber units

Catalyst Communications Technologies, a leader in mission critical dispatch, interoperability, and incident command solutions to the First Responder community, today announces a new platform that enables Land Mobile Radio subscribers to communicate with users of Mission Critical Push to Talk applications on LTE Networks through standards compliant interfaces. IntelliLink™ Interworking leverages Catalyst’s 20 years’ experience with sophisticated radio control and interface technology with new development using the 3GPP Standards to interface to LTE Networks, including FirstNet™. The result is the first interworking solution in the market based upon these standards and follows the industry trend toward standards-based solutions and away from today’s profusion of incompatible PTT over cellular solutions.

A Migration to FirstNet™ for P25 – and everyone else

 Interworking is the term for communications interoperability between Land Mobile Radio devices used by First Responders today and new Mission Critical Push to Talk applications on mobile phones running on LTE Networks including FirstNet™. Interworking has long been considered a key component of FirstNet™ adoption, as public safety organizations will need a migration strategy as they and allied agencies move to FirstNet™. They will require simultaneous dispatch and device to device communications between LMR and LTE during the transition.

Industry groups are working on an Interworking approach based on the Project 25 (P25) Inter Sub System Interface (ISSI) standard for the LMR interface and the 3GPP MCX standard for LTE. While that model may be appropriate for many larger agencies, the cost will be high and the low deployment rate of ISSI will make it impractical for the broader market of public safety organizations. These organizations, many with older technologies, will also need an interworking solution to migrate to FirstNet™. Catalyst’s Intellilink™ Interworking solution is flexible and will support a wide variety of LMR radio networks. Catalyst’s IntelliLink™ Interworking Solutions roadmap provides a vision for how interworking will likely develop and how Catalyst plans to augment existing efforts to define a P25 ISSI to LTE interface with a solution that also enables other LMR technologies. This includes other standard LMR interfaces such as the P25 Common Air Interface (CAI) and Digital Fixed Station Interface (DFSI), the Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Application Interface Specification (AIS), analog FM, as well as proprietary radio protocols including Smartnet™, EDACS™, and Nexedge™.

Interworking

As part of the overall IntelliLink™ Interworking solution, two simple user interface platforms for managing Interworking talk groups and channels are provided, both “infinitely” configurable.  One of these tools is for Interworking only and one is a complete Mission Critical Dispatch Console for both LTE and LMR.

Development History – a Department of Homeland Security Initiative

In 2018, Catalyst was awarded a contract by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to investigate standards-based Interworking that will enable mission critical communications between First Responders using Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems and cellular devices over Long Term Evolution (LTE) Networks with push to talk applications. This contract was the result of a Small Business Innovation and Research program solicitation won by Catalyst in competition with other businesses. DHS S&T was interested in technology and solutions that take advantage of existing standards in P25 LMR and 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) LTE technologies to create seamless communications between users on these systems.

With the announcement in April 2019 that Catalyst had been awarded a Phase II, $1.0 million contract from DHS S&T to develop a prototype based upon the results of the Phase I research, Catalyst has firmly established its position as a leading contributor to the maturation of FirstNet™ and other next generation critical communications services based upon LTE technology. Today’s announcement of IntelliLink™ Interworking Solutions is the first public unveiling of the Phase II research and prototype development efforts from this program.

The Compelling Requirement for a Standards Based Solution

FirstNet™ and the First Responder community are committed to standards-based interfaces for both LMR and LTE networks to enable communications between Mission Critical Push to Talk devices on these networks. Catalyst IntelliLink™ Interworking Solutions are a complete departure from existing “Over the Top” PTT over LTE solutions because:

  • We are compliant with the MCPTT Standard, not “almost mission critical”.
  • True MCPTT provides the performance that Public Safety needs (minimal delay, protecting against lost syllables and words, and meta data).
  • True MCPTT can be integrated with the carrier’s broader solution so that, for instance, subscribers can manage their device so that PTT audio is not lost when someone places a telephone call to their cell phone.

The Catalyst approach best meets the needs of Public Safety including:

  • Catalyst’s technology protects against dropped syllables and hung channels.
  • Catalyst’s standards-compliant console provides a high level of symmetry to what First Responders are currently receiving, including Unit ID, Alias, and Emergency Indication from users on both networks.
  • Catalyst’s radio interface technology supports a wide array of LMR radio systems, not just ISSI.
  • Catalyst provides an intuitive User Interface for managing Interworking that does not require a Catalyst console.

To complement our extensive technology and knowledge of Land Mobile Radio networks, Catalyst partnered with Softil Communications Services https://www.softil.com/ for key technology relating to the 3GPP MCPTT/MCX Standard interface for LTE Networks. Catalyst chose Softil’s BEEHD suite of development tools after a comprehensive review of available technology to interface to LTE, concluding Softil is best in class. Softil’s MCPTT BEEHD Framework offers Mission Critical Communication solutions including Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT), Push-to-Video, and other emerging applications for the First Responder community. BEEHD is a cross-platform client SDK designed for developers like Catalyst, looking to accelerate the development of IP-based communications over LTE for mission-critical applications.

To promote the various Interworking solutions, Catalyst has branded IntelliLink™ Interworking with a new graphic to identify Interworking Solutions. Catalyst expects that the technology developed in support of the DHS S&T Award will produce a family of products solving specific Interworking problems, promoted and identified under the new Intellilink™ Interworking brand.

Interworking Logo

The design captures a popular symbol of the first responder community and the interaction between LMR, Catalyst, and LTE.