Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) radio communications refers to radio applications designed for public safety, security and defence. National authorities or relevant operators use the applications to respond to emergency situations.

The European Commission, in co-operation with Member States, seeks to ensure that sufficient spectrum is made available for public safety and protection, civil protection and disaster relief, under harmonised conditions, to:

  • support the development of safety services,
  • the free circulation of related devices,
  • the development of innovative interoperable solutions.

Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP)

The RSPP emphasises the development of an internal market for PPDR devices, which will benefit of economies of scale:

  • on lowering the cost of purchasing and operating commercial equipment used for broadband PPDR, and
  • on the interoperability of PPDR systems, allowing for coordinated cross-border operations.

Harmonisation of spectrum for PPDR

The Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) report on strategic sectoral spectrum needs highlights that spectrum needs for broadband PPDR services differ for each Member State. Also, national solutions depend on political decisions, including the method of conducting missions to ensure public safety, and the related role of national authorities or public operators.

In the context of public authorities providing funding to the PPDR sector (initial investment in networks and terminal equipment plus covering future maintenance cost), the goals are to:

  • move to a next generation PPDR (high-speed mobile data/broadband systems), and
  • foster the internal market with PPDR equipment.

Current legislation

In 2016, the Commission Implementing Decision on the 700 MHz band was adopted, specifying the following objectives:

  • harmonising technical conditions for terrestrial wireless broadband services in the bands 703-733 MHz and 758-788 MHz,
  • enabling the deployment of broadband PPDR services, provided that PPDR networks can make use of these technical conditions and have the same co-existence characteristics as terrestrial wireless broadband networks,
  • deploying PPDR when needed by Member States, while using the designation for electronic communications services on a non-exclusive basis,
  • availability of additional parts of the 700 MHz band for PPDR networks depending on national decisions and choice: 698-703 MHz, 733-736 MHz, 753-758 MHz and 788-791 MHz.

Commercial networks for PPDR including 5G

A study on the Use of commercial mobile networks and equipment for mission-critical high-speed broadband communications in specific sectors was completed in 2014, finding that commercial mobile broadband networks could be used for mission-critical communications with the right legal, regulatory and contractual framework and only if several requirements are fulfilled.

The testing of PPDR applications using 5G technology is ongoing in some Member States. On 5 December 2017, Slovenian and Hungarian telecoms regulators signed a cooperation agreement to support a pilot project for the implementation of 5G technology. The project is in the field of public security, protection and rescue technology (5G PPDR). The cooperation agreement is part of a wider integration between the countries in this field, after the signing of a cross-border memorandum between Slovenia and Hungary for the 5G project. The goal is to improve the management of incidents and reduce the costs of disasters and other extraordinary events. Slovenian authorities in charge of the project expect one outcome to be the provision of technological solutions for the prevention and management of consequences of terrorist attacks and border control for illegal migration or in case of increased tourist flows.

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