The objective of the study was to examine the potential role that commercial mobile networks – with associated economies of scale for commercial equipment (including handheld devices for end-users) – could play in ensuring the provision of mission-critical high-speed broadband communications in the following sectors in Europe: Public safety, civil protection and disaster relief (PPDR); Utilities – intelligent energy management systems and smart energy grids; Intelligent transport safety and transport management systems (ITS).

The two main options considered were public land mobile networks run by commercial operators and the dedicated networks created specifically for use in these sectors. The Study also examined broadband needs of all three sectors. Five scenarios based on different types of deployments were studied:

1) Dedicated networks and dedicated specialised equipment
2) Commercial mobile networks and commercial equipment
3) Dedicated networks with commercial networking equipment
4) Hybrid networks
5) Common multi-purpose network

The Study report emphasised the European society's dependence on mission-critical services which increasingly require wireless broadband support. Mission-critical users have two major reservations about relying exclusively on commercial mobile services:

1) Can commercial mobile operators (MNOs) be trusted to provide reliable services under fixed-price contracts over long periods of time?
2) Will MNOs provide the needed level of network availability, resilience, service quality, security and coverage, particularly in emergencies?

The Study team concluded that commercial mobile broadband networks could be used for mission-critical services with the right legal, regulatory and contractual framework and only if several requirements are fully met. The Study team is further proposing specific measures to build the confidence of mission-critical users in the commercial mobile networks.

The study could serve as guidance document to administrations in Member States who consider the use of commercial mobile networks for broadband PPDR communications. In line with Study recommendations, the Commission does not intend to adopt any legally binding measures related to the harmonisation of dedicated spectrum or obliging Member States to use commercial networks. The results of the Study can be explored in Horizon 2020 (EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation) for the preparation of the Call DRS-18-2015: Communication technologies and interoperability, topic 1: interoperable next generation of broadband radio communication system for public safety and security.

The full report and executive summaries in English, French and German can be downloaded from the EU Bookshop. The conclusions of the Study were presented in a public workshop on 15 October 2014 in Brussels.

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