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.
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™.
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.
The design captures a popular symbol of the first responder community and the interaction between LMR, Catalyst, and LTE.
Here at Catalyst Communications Technologies we’re looking forward to 2020 with more energy and excitement than ever! We’ll be introducing our IntelliLink(tm) Interworking solution at IWCE this year, and have a strong promotion campaign to let everyone know what’s coming and how it will help users take advantage of FirstNet(tm) by providing interworking between subscribers on LMR and LTE networks.Up first, a NEW AD promoting the usefulness of our DISPATCH SOLUTIONS for managing communications to both LMR and LTE subscribers.
You can expect more information as we launch INTERWORKING SOLUTIONS with the foresight of our 2020 VISION and you’ll learn about it here at THE DISPATCH BLOG!
Star City Communications, https://www.starcityinc.com/the-company/ a Bedford VA Authorized Catalyst Dealer, attended the 2019 VA APCO/NENA/Interoperability Conference last week with the support of Catalyst Communications Technologies. Here’s a shot of Ron Lee, Star City president, at the booth:
In addition to the terrific education sessions afforded to the attendees, visitors were able to learn about Star City Communications, Catalyst Communications Technologies, and the services and solutions we jointly provide to the First responder community here in southwest Virginia.
Robin Grier, president of Catalyst Communications Technologies, announced that John Hilliard has joined Catalyst as Vice President of Sales. John is charged with leading the effort to continue Catalyst’s growth and will also be responsible for deploying Catalyst’s LMR LTE Interworking solution beginning in 2020.
John Hilliard brings extensive experience leading communications technology sales organizations in the public safety marketplace. He has a solid track record of building successful sales teams, is a skillful negotiator, and has deep industry experience in both the global telecommunications marketplace and the First Responder Community.
Speaking about John, Robin Grier said “We’re excited to have John on our team and especially the skill sets and experiences he brings as we roll out our LMR LTE Intellilink™ Interworking solutions in 2020. These solutions will require close coordination with FirstNet™ and the FirstNet™ network provider AT&T, as well as other Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) systems. John’s carrier experience will be crucial for the successful deployment of Catalyst Interworking solutions, as well as growth and management of our core Dispatch, Interoperability and Incident command solutions.”
More details about John Hilliard can be viewed at his Linked In profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jvhilliard/ .
The FirstNet(tm) Responder Authority have produced a document outlining a roadmap for FirstNet(tm) deployment, and it’s clear they are planning for solutions to the problems that Catalyst is addressing through our DHS funded research and development for an Interworking solution. Specifically, the roadmap expresses what the FirstNet(tm) Authority will do to evolve and advance the FirstNet(tm) Experience, and identifies a framework for progress in 6 key domains:
- The Core
- Coverage and Capacity
- Situational Awareness
- Voice Communications
- Secure Information Exchange
- User Experience
Readers can view the Roadmap at https://www.firstnet.gov/network/roadmap
Catalyst is most active today in the area of Voice Communications, as the key technologies to support this domain include:
• Mission-critical Push-to-talk (MCPTT): A standards-based, group-enabled PTT function that is designed for public safety’s use of mission-critical voice communications.
• MCPTT to LMR Interworking: Ability for interworking of LMR systems with the FirstNet MCPTT solution
Interworking is key for FirstNet(tm) deployment and Catalyst intends to lead the deployment of LMR LTE Interworking solutions under our IntelliLink(tm) brand of interoperability solutions. We’re developing these solutions as part of a Department of Homeland Security funded project to define and develop this needed capability.
Going forward, Catalyst expects to also impact the Situational Awareness domain. Location is a key technology for Situational Awareness and our Location Services solution InterLoc(tm) is positioned to integrate seamlessly into both our FirstNet(tm) interface and our Dispatch solutions. When you consider the data capacity of FirstNet(tm) and it’s ability to not only capture the location of First Responders but also present the location of nearby First Responders to other via a map application on a LTE mobile device, the advantages of integrated locations services into the FirstNet(tm) solutions matrix is obvious.
Meet Catalyst Communications Technologies at APCO in Baltimore!!!
Catalyst Communications Technologies will be a major exhibitor once again at APCO 2019 August 11 – 14 in Baltimore. Please visit us there at Booth 1113 to see our newest products, announcements, and our coolest giveaways! We look forward to seeing you!
For complimentary exhibit hall registration:
- Go to https://www.apco2019.org/registration/
- Select the “Register” button
- Enter your email OR APCO member ID if known
- Select the “Add Myself” button and enter information
- Answer APCO’s General Data Protection Question
- Complete APCO 2019 Attendee Registration Form, Select “Complimentary Exhibit Hall Only Pass (Received Code from an Exhibitor)”, highlighted in red. LAh6CaPx
- Complete the Demographic Profile
- Purchase Tickets to Events. Special event tickets are NOT included with this registration category but are available at this time for purchase
- Review the Registration Summary page and enter code received from exhibitor in “Discount Code” field The CODE for CATALYST is LAh6CaPx.
- Select Apply to remove the cost of the registration price
- Select the box to accept the Cancellation Policy
- A confirmation will be sent to the email provided and to the CC email if applicable
And, our “disclaimer” … this is for the Exhibit Hall only, no tracks or other events.
Public Safety Can’t Wait… Neither Should You!
See Us At APCO Booth 1113
A nice article from Donny Jackson with Urgent Communications about our DHS Award and his follow on interview with Robin Grier, president of Catalyst Communications Technologies
Catalyst Communications today announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded the company with a contract worth as much as $1 million to develop an interworking solution between LMR and 3GPP-standard mission-critical-push-to-talk (MCPTT) offerings that could be commercially available next year.
Catalyst President Robin Grier said that the company’s solution would be compliant with the 3GPP interworking standard and would support interoperability between MCPTT and all LMR systems.
“While we all support Project 25 and recognize that it’s the gold standard, we also recognize that many, many public-safety agencies and critical communicators don’t have Project 25—and many who do [use P25] don’t have ISSI or don’t have the capacity on their ISSI to support all of the talk groups that they would like to have interoperate with FirstNet or another networks that support MCPTT,” Grier said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
“Catalyst is building a solution that will allow interoperability not just with P25 and not just P25 with ISSI, but different types of P25—including conventional P25—using the Digital Fixed Station Interface, as well as being able to connect to legacy trunked systems, to DMR systems and other systems.”
DHS awarded the Phase II contract to Catalyst after a selection process that was conducted after the company competed in the Phase I feasibility stage of the project last year. Catalyst hopes to demonstrate its interworking product at IWCE 2020 next March and make a commercial offering of the solution “soon after that,” Grier said.
“We’re certainly looking for those initial agencies that would like to begin using interworking interoperability between MCPTT and LMR,” he said, noting that entities interested in participating in the development of the internetworking solution should contact Catalyst. “We’re eager to engage with those folks to get initial versions out as carriers fully implement supporting infrastructure that will be able to do more and more on our side.”
MCPTT has not been deployed yet, AT&T has announced that FirstNet subscribers will have a choice of at least two MCPTT offerings from different vendors during the second half of this year. Near-term adoption of MCPTT could be impacted by the ability for users to interoperate with legacy LMR systems, which is why DHS is helping fund development of an interworking solution, according to Grier.
“I believe [MCPTT] is coming, and I believe the demand for it is going to be high,” Grier said. “But it’s not going to be successful until there is the ability to interoperate between our bread-and-butter land-mobile-radio systems and these new MCPTT devices. Without some way to connect push to talk on those multiple system, [MCPTT] is not going to go very far.
“This is critical work for our country to be able to have this capability. We’re honored to be selected.”
Having a commercial MCPTT offering in the marketplace will play a big role in helping Catalyst develop a real-world interworking solution, Grier said.
“We can begin the development in our lab,” he said. “Our plan is to test our solution on the FirstNet system before we bring it out to a public-safety agency and tell them, ‘We’re ready to try this at your place.’”
While Catalyst officials are confident that an interworking solution can be developed, Grier noted that there some items still need to be “sorted out,” such as where the solution would reside.
“I think the carrier needs to decide how they want that to work, in terms of where they want it to sit,” Grier said. “Obviously, public-safety agencies need to have a lot of control over their talk groups and particularly their LMR channels—what gets routed to them and how busy they get.”
June 6, 2019 is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Project Overlord was the largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944. The landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men. When it was over, the Allied Forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties; more than 4,000 were dead. Yet somehow, due to planning and preparation, and due to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied Forces, Fortress Europe had been breached.
The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA – right next to Catalyst’s headquarters in Forest, VA – is planning “The Final Salute”, an expansive program combining the best of the Memorial with the best of the D-Day story: a gathering of veterans and the general public at the nation’s memorial to the invasion of Normandy for reflection and remembrance – the story of ordinary people in extraordinary moments.
Catalyst is a proud sponsor of “The Final Salute”, and our sponsorship include much more than a financial or advertising contribution. Catalyst technology is a critical and active component of the day’s events, as we are providing essential radio and dispatch communications for the many activities planned for the day.
Catalyst equipment in support of this event is installed at locations serving Lynchburg Airport, Roanoke Airport, and at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford. Air Traffic Controllers using our Propulsion(tm) Dispatch software communicates with AM Radios that will be used to coordinate air traffic for the many flyovers of historical aircraft planned and enables intercom – like communications between the Air Traffic Controllers and dispatch attendants at LYH, ROA and at the memorial. We’ll also help communications for ground operations with Gateways connected to Harris P25 radios that communicate over Virginia’s Region 2000 radio network for administration and security support. Throughout all this, Catalyst support personnel are available to insure smooth operations.
Paul Perrone, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Lynchburg Regional Air Show, Inc., the organization responsible for the Aerial Tribute, commented “We are very fortunate to have access to the Catalyst technology which has given our Air Boss a suite of communication tools enhancing his ability to precisely synchronize the aircraft movements with the program events and, most importantly, allow for coordination with adjacent air space controllers, to ensure safe conduct of the event”.
More information about “The Final Salute” can be found at https://www.dday.org/75th/. And if you happen to attend the day’s events, know that Catalyst Communications Technologies is a proud sponsor and technology contributor to this important remembrance.”