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5G for first
responders and
the benefits of
network slicing

Author: Adam Kimmel

Network slicing is a powerful tool that will be able to offer customizable 5G services for first responders. With many industries poised to benefit from the significant improvements in speed, capacity and latency that 5G can provide, sectors like public safety are keen to incorporate the technology.

Municipal IT leaders want to realize the capabilities of 5G that they can use to power advanced public safety applications without massive cash outlays for capital. The benefits of network slicing could include a flexible, budget-friendly approach to unlock 5G for first responders and public safety professionals.

What is network slicing?

Network slicing provides flexibility by layering several virtual networks within a shared, physical one. These virtual networks can operate independently and optimize the performance of a given application. To understand the benefits of network slicing, consider two examples of the challenges that can arise from running the applications together and the ways network resources can be optimized specifically to better support these applications.

The first use case is the differing requirements imposed on the network by an Internet of Things (IoT) application that uses static, low data rate sensors, as opposed to one that uses high definition video surveillance cameras.

An IoT sensor application can support a very large number of devices, but bandwidth requirements on the network are typically low, due to the limited data rate generated by those sensors. Although the requirements of this application could potentially be addressed by a 4G network, the massive device density—and associated control and management overhead—can be seamlessly supported by Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) on 5G.

On the other hand, an IoT video surveillance application, in particular one that uses HD video, presents a substantial bandwidth demand on the network. This use case can be accommodated by the Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) high bandwidth capability of 5G. As a result, the network can be virtually partitioned in slices, each one tailored to support different scenarios with competing network requirements. This can allow one physical network to deliver, seamlessly, the public safety customer experiences promised by 5G for first responders for both massive sensorization and low bandwidth, as well as very high bandwidth use cases.

5G for first responders and public safety professionals

The high capacity and low latency that 5G can provide for first responders and public safety professionals may be able to enable the deployment of dedicated emergency slices. Slicing can enable numerous public sector mission-critical applications, three of which are listed below with their requirements.

Mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) 

MCPTT requires under 300 milliseconds of end-to-end talk setup time with around 6,000 users in a call. It also needs to have high voice quality/low noise, end-to-end encryption, and group and broadcast call capability, among other features.

Mission-critical data

In the form of images, text messages, and files, this data helps public safety officers stay current in dynamic situations and gain better context into an opportunity. To that end, the data needs to have essentially real-time capability, up to 5 Gbps bandwidth in a network cell, preemption and prioritization for certain services, symmetric utilization, and end-to-end encryption.

Mission-critical video

Like mission-critical data, transmitting video over 5G for first responders and public safety professionals can provide them with a more precise picture into the context of a situation. Video requires many of the same features as data, such as up to 5 Gbps bandwidth in a network cell, preemption and prioritization for certain services, symmetric utilization, and end-to-end encryption. Videos need to be recorded in 1080p60 or higher and run in real time without delay or latency.

The benefits of network slicing

Network slicing could deliver 5G services to first responders with the capability and security required for both leading-edge performance and uncompromising security and reliability. Because of the applications' nuances described above, network slices need to address the unique performance and security measures required by each use case.

By adding customization and flexibility with network slices, 5G can boost first responders' effectiveness without compromising your existing infrastructure or investing a disruptive amount in acquiring the capability.

Learn more about how Verizon's 5G is built for first responders and public safety professionals.