A consortium of cities in North Carolina led by Charlotte using a $16.7 million BTOP grant from the NTIA for a public safety 700 MHz LTE network, has awarded the contract for building out the network to Alcatel-Lucent. The project is owned by CharMeck Connect, a joint venture among the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville. To reduce the costs of the deployment, as well as the maintenance and operation of the LTE network, CharmeMeck Connect is using a “hosted model” which according to this LTE white paper from Alcatel-Lucent involves “network access is provided by another party and leased to a public safety entity for a monthly fee.”
Here’s an excerpt from the Alcatel-Lucent white paper entitled Long Term Evolution (LTE) for Public Safety: Enabling Flexible Business Models:
2.3 Hosted model
The hosted model allows each public safety entity to use network assets that are owned and managed by another party. These assets are usually shared among several similar types of customers with similar needs, creating economies of scale for both capital and operational expenses. While core infrastructure is shared, Radio Access Networks (RANs) are usually owned — and may be unique to — each individual public safety entity. The shared core provides the benefits of the platform while reducing startup costs and ongoing operations costs.
With a hosted model, the public safety entity pays a consistent, predictable periodic fee for network access. The fee is usually a function of some known factor, such as the number of end users, devices or usage. This model also eliminates the need to plan and allocate funding for network upgrades, maintenance contracts and ongoing training for operations. These expenses are all handled by the hosting provider, who is responsible for keeping the platform current, resolving all technical issues and ensuring the appropriate level of service.
Figure 3 shows a hosted model architecture, where a non-public safety entity, such as Alcatel-Lucent, is the host — thereby owning a portion of the core and handling OA&M activities. The hosted core (fractional core 1) may include all functions related to mobility control, bearer management, gateway selection and authentication, messaging center, device management center, subscriber databases and Quality of Service control. The public safety portion of the core (fractional core 2) consists primarily of gateways to provide external connectivity and IP addressing. Both fractional cores could be physically separate. This approach accommodates large implementations and can eventually serve multiple jurisdictions. Transport is split between public safety-owned backhaul — for example, within a given jurisdiction — and a third-party transport cloud that carries traffic (mainly signaling) toward the hosted core. Individual agencies may be able to remotely monitor the health of the network.
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Please read the rest of the white paper to see details on the other models of deployment – Managed model and CAPEX model, both of which require significantly greater startup costs than the hosted model.