Bruce Brda, Motorola Solutions’ executive vice president for products and solutions, said that “LTE currently doesn’t have a viable solution for direct-mode” voice communications, noting that the United Kingdom’s Home Office initially plans to use its new Emergency Services Network (ESN) for on-network mission-critical voice traffic and TETRA for off-network/direct-mode mission-critical voice for first responders as early as mid-2018.   

“LTE currently doesn’t have a viable solution for direct mode,” Brda said during the conference call. “The UK Home Office has selected to go down a path of really two technologies: LTE for trunked or group communications, and then TETRA as a direct-mode solution—so, two technologies and two devices.

“We will compete for the direct-mode TETRA device business at the right point in time. That opportunity hasn’t surfaced yet, though.”

Brown said that Motorola Solutions officials “feel very good” about the company’s relationship with AT&T, which won the contract to build and maintain FirstNet’s nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) in the U.S. for the next 25 years. Motorola Solutions does not expect to receive any FirstNet-related revenue this year and is providing an early estimate of $40 million to $60 million in “composite total revenue” from the FirstNet relationship in 2018, he said.

“It [FirstNet-related sales] could … include software and mobile applications,” Brown said. “It could include services activation. It could include the deployment of software we’ve developed which interoperates and links land-mobile-radio and P25 with LTE network. And, of course, it could include a mix of devices—not just handhelds but vehicular modems.”

In addition, Brown emphasized that Motorola Solutions officials continue to believe that LTE-related revenues will represent incremental revenue gains, not a cannibalization of the company’s core LMR offerings.

“We’ve now won five of the largest public-safety LTE awards in the world: Los Angeles [LA-RICS]; FirstNet, as a subcontractor to AT&T; the UK Home Office, in the form of ESN; and two countries in the Middle East,” Brown said.

“And what we see in all of those cases—five out of five—is continued strong investment—either upgrading or, in some cases, brand new—land mobile radio, which speaks to the coexistence and the expectation by our customers that public-safety LTE will be data-focused and video-focused, while mission-critical voice will continue to be provisioned over P25.”

When asked to specify the type of LMR investments being made by the UK government in the Airwave system—the TETRA network owned by Motorola Solutions—Brown said that “they continue to use it. They continue to upgrade system software releases. They continue to add devices and interoperability between fire and police.”

Brda also noted that the UK government also is investing in solutions that allow interoperability between Airwave users and ESN users.