Introduction to Unified Critical Communications
The Benefits of Unified Critical Communications
What is Unified Critical Communications?
Unified Critical Communications (UCC) is an approach that is both radical, and deceptively simple. Unlike traditional reliance on a single communications technology, Unified Critical Communications combines the strengths of a diverse range of technologies, while mitigating their individual weaknesses. It can:
- Replace traditional single-technology solutions with multiple communications bearers,
- Open up the choice of a much wider range of equipment types and vendors,
- Integrate different networks so that they are managed as one,
- Deliver communications dynamically via multiple networks, ensuring that communications always get through,
- Future-proof systems by enabling new bearers and technologies to be adding as and when required.
Unified Critical Communications is not a new technology, but an innovative integration platform.
The basic idea is that various different bearers, devices, and applications can be integrated at the network level to present a consistent, unified user interface and experience. This allows voice, data, video, mobility, and services to be seamlessly unified across a multi-bearer network acting as though it was a uniform managed system.
As a critical communications user, you have probably invested in multiple technologies such as LMR, WiFi, 3G or 4G cellular, and connection to your back-office and dispatch systems. Why not continue to use these, especially if they can be made to work better?
Investing in a new technology that promises to do everything is a considerable gamble. It requires a costly changeout of equipment, training, and processes, and risks that existing processes and systems may be disrupted or fail. Unlike smartphone consumers, critical communications operators cannot afford interruptions to their communications.
Of course, a basic integration of different bearers has been carried out before. Proprietary bridges or gateways have commonly been used to combine different technologies, enabling a call from one LMR technology to cross the bridge to a system using a different LMR technology. Interoperability standards have also created interfaces that facilitate cross-network communication.
However, these real-life integrations generally do not go far enough. Often, only a limited selection of technologies can be combined in this manner. The net result can be a collection of communications subsystems that appear to be integrated yet, being only loosely connected, are managed separately. Getting them to work together – coordinating overall performance, monitoring security, and administering consistent access control – is complex and costly. Moreover, integration through proprietary interfaces can severely constrain interoperability, locking organizations into buying only from vendors that support that proprietary connectivity.
Moving beyond those piecemeal integrations, Unified Critical Communications seamlessly integrates any combination of voice, data, text, images, or video. The system itself automatically selects the best network to deliver these quickly, reliably and securely across various devices, endpoints, and applications – without user input. UCC dynamically adopts the best delivery method available at that moment, whether it is LMR, WiFi, 3G/4G cellular, Private LTE, satellite, etc. Thus, UCC supports the most appropriate aspects of existing technologies while accommodating future developments such as 5G.