Vision for 5G, IoT and Public Safety in NAM

Augustin Chang

25 December 2018

According to market research Public Safety in-building communications is set to grow by 12% CAGR from under $300M in 2017 to over $550M in 2023.


We spoke with Augustin Chang, general manager for Comba North America to discuss the role of 5G in critical communications within the U.S. and how Comba is preparing for this new technology.


1.)  How has the U.S. prepared for the upcoming 5G wave?

Augustin: 5G has been a popular topic for several years. Major carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have conducted real-world trials from testing the technology and progressively improving the performance as well as expanding the coverage to even larger areas to meet this coming demand1.   As stated on CNET, following closely behind China and South Korea, the US is one of the top global leaders for 5G2.   Already, certain mobile operators in the US have launched some form of 5G services – fixed or otherwise, in certain cities, mass roll out of mobile 5G networks is set for late 2019/2020 timeframe. Having said that, here is still plenty of room to learn and grow for all industries and still coexist with 4G in the form on 5G NSA networks. 


2.) How has Comba performed in the critical communications market?

Augustin: Comba is one of the leading solutions providers for in-building communications in public safety. With our latest release for the CriticalPoint™ Public Safety UHF BDA and our popular award winning 700/800MHZ Class A BDA we have seen a dramatic rise in demand for our public safety line. We have collaborated with notable partners for large projects that need the implementation of our BDA and DAS systems as well. For example, Comba and Wave Wireless partnered together to release the first public safety system in Washington D.C., known to have one of the nation’s strictest fire codes. Providing cost efficient products is not only our main goal, but innovation for the latest technology is a factor that will drives us to provide the necessary equipment First Responders can rely on.


3.) What are some challenges you see with 5G?

Augustin: Although 5G will allow operators to have a greater improvement in their wireless communications, challenges are expected with this new technology. One concern is how well 5G will work with various spectrum bands, implementing a network core that is ready for 5G and upgrading current technologies to a faster service and at higher performances with low costs3.   Of course, 5G is not expected to replace 4G in its early phases, but there are limitless opportunities for many industries especially in the public safety space. Ranging from the development of smart cities to improved communication for First Responders there may be difficulty in compliance with local jurisdictions, security risks, and more that will take research, time and testing to perfect.


4.) What are the steps Comba is taking to ensure their public safety line will be ready for this wave of new technology?

Augustin: Since 2015, Comba’s R&D has invested their efforts in supporting the 5G infrastructure and testing. To showcase our latest developments, during 2018’s Mobile World Congress, Comba had the opportunity to reveal their solutions under the theme of “Smart Connectivity, Bringing the Future Closer”, which included HetNet, Macro Networks, Smart City, and Public Safety solutions. Our new UHF Bi-Directional Amplifier was widely received and plans for future development for our Public Safety line are in the works to meet all customer expectations. With a few years left for the 5G roll out plan, Comba has been closely monitoring the latest research topics and discussions to further incorporate our products especially in the public safety space in this trend.


5.) Bringing it together: where do you see the future for 5G in critical communications?

Augustin: 5G is expected to have up to 10 times the speed and extremely low latency compared to current 4G technology. With an increase in bandwidth come new opportunities and essential services that are crucial for mission critical communications. FirstNet™, a nationwide broadband public safety network that was awarded to AT&T is currently is being built to support this new public safety network. This buildout strategy is designed to let AT&T make the jump to 5G and holds promise for LTE critical communications.  The key element for First Responders is how well 5G will enable information to be relayed in real time by antenna on vehicles, drones, planes, surveillance cameras and even on backpacks. Imagine fire fighters or police officers on a disaster site. In the case that the traditional communication tower for LMR services is down, these First Responders can use 5G for major advantages such as sharing and receiving live feed or location coordinates, and real time video situational awareness. Not only will 5G improve team communication, but enhanced productivity that will revolutionize how we save lives. In dire situations that can mean life or death, having the latest communication capabilities will be immensely beneficial to the public safety sector.



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About Augustin Chang

Augustin Chang is general manager of the Group’s international branch in North America. Mr. Chang is responsible for the business development & R&D activities for the high power amplifier in the US & Canada.

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