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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Nedaa to complete Dh300m 4G disaster relief project by 2020

The company is working with Nokia to implement a communication system used during crises

“In Tetra you have more flexibility when compared to GSM. You can communicate with up to 200 people in one go but this is not possible on GSM. 4G will be one step ahead of Tetra," said Mansoor Buosaiba, chief executive of Nedaa. Antonie Robertson/The National
“In Tetra you have more flexibility when compared to GSM. You can communicate with up to 200 people in one go but this is not possible on GSM. 4G will be one step ahead of Tetra," said Mansoor Buosaiba, chief executive of Nedaa. Antonie Robertson/The National

Nedaa, the Dubai government specialist in developing communication systems for use in crises, will complete a Dh300 million project by 2020 to help its customers communicate faster during disasters.

Security agencies usually rely on commercial 4G networks, which are prone to crashing during emergency situations. Therefore, they need dedicated broadband communication networks, known as mission critical communications, for their public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) efforts.

“Phase one is already complete and we are in the last stage of finishing the phase two of LTE [Long Term Evolution] or 4G mission critical project. We aim to complete the entire project by 2020,” Mansoor Buosaiba, the chief executive of Nedaa told The National.

PPDR networks (mission critical 4G or LTE) allow immediate group communications with a high degree of reliability, accessibility and safety

The mission critical LTE network allows rescue authorities to operate remotely, even while kilometres away from the emergency spot.

“Recently, we had done a trial during one of the incidents in Dubai and the result was fantastic,” said Mr Buosaiba. “It was about live broadcasting of videos from the venue to the control room, which was 40km away, using the LTE network.”

GCC mission critical LTE revenue is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.6 per cent to $1.9 billion in 2028 from $1bn this year, according to the consultancy Strategy&.

The public security LTE infrastructure market – which includes base stations, mobile core and transport network equipment – is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 45 per cent from this year to 2020, according to SNS Research, a market intelligence and consulting company. By 2020, these infrastructure investments will be supplemented by up to 3.8 million LTE device shipments.

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“There is an absolute need for a dedicated communications network, for PPDR, which can offer the highest levels of security, data privacy, and which can be scaled up to support government departments and the supporting functions involved to handle any such incidents,” said Krishna Chinta, programme manager of telecoms at International Data Corporation, Middle East and Africa.

“A dedicated LTE network is emerging to be an attractive option to that effect. This is owing to its well-evolved broadband cellular functionality capable of supporting voice, video applications, as well as group calls and group management with certain upgrades,” he said.

Nedaa will set up 200 base ­stations to support a mission critical 4G network and 100 to 120 will be ready by the end of this year. It is working with Finnish mobile networks operator Nokia to implement mission critical LTE grid across Dubai.

Nedaa, which has more than 150 clients, now offers a Terrestrial Trunked Radio (Tetra) network, based on European standards. The Tetra network played a crucial role in demonstrating the importance of having a dedicated mission critical communication in December 2015.

“When the fire broke out at the Address Downtown hotel [on New Year’s Eve in 2015], rescue teams were able to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from the building as well as from around Burj Khalifa by using our Tetra network, in less than 40 minutes,” said Mr Buosaiba.

“At that time, emergency agencies could not use commercial networks as they got jammed and data was also not working.

“In Tetra you have more flexibility when compared to GSM [global system for mobile communications]. You can communicate with up to 200 people in one go but this is not possible on GSM. 4G will be one step ahead of Tetra.”

Nearly 80 per cent of Nedaa’s clients are government entities, including DP World, Dubai Metro, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dubai World Trade Centre, Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Municipality and Department of Economic Development. Nedaa is anticipating 10 per cent growth in the number of Tetra subscribers and in overall revenues by next year.