Enhancing and advancing critical communications for the benefit of all

07 May 2024

Mladen Vratonjić, Board chair, TCCA

Mladen Vratonjić, Board chair, TCCA

In today’s time, full of security challenges and unexpected situations, both those caused by man and those where nature plays the main role and which affect everyday life and business, it has been proven time and time again, all around the world, that having robust and reliable communications systems is essential when managing major events, whether planned or unplanned. TCCA’s Critical Communications World (CCW), the most significant world event dedicated exclusively to critical communications, is coming this year to the region, to Dubai. CCW aims to bring closer and showcase the best in critical communications, from products and services to case studies and future technologies across narrowband and broadband networks, for visitors around the world, and especially from the Middle East and Africa.

The theme for CCW 2024 is ‘Securing society and industry - connection is the lifeline.’ Every innovation, every new product and service, every insight at Critical Communications World – all are based on the need for resilient, robust connectivity. As our world becomes increasingly reliant on connected communications – whether for the consumer, the business, or the critical user – the availability and quality of communications is relevant to, and important for, everyone.

We chose this region for CCW 2024 as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have long been recognised as digital leaders in critical communications. When it comes to digitalisation, there are regional differences in global migration - Asia and Oceania have a large analogue installed base that is falling moderately; Europe and the Americas have a faster transition to digital technologies; but in MENA the transition is even more rapid. Critical communications analyst house Omdia expects that this year, MENA will become one of the most digitised regions in the world with more than 95% of LMR users converted to digital.

The increasing economic diversification of the Middle East and Africa, the accelerated development of the strategic industries of transportation, energy, utilities, mining and the requirements for public safety and security (PSS) provide strong market drivers for robust communication infrastructure. The largest adopter of LMR technology in the MENA region is the PSS sector, which accounted for almost two thirds of all users at the end of 2023. The region followed a very positive trend last year across technologies and applications, and Omdia forecasts digital LMR technologies as having overall growth, illustrating the development of critical communication networks in the region. The mission critical communication market in the Middle East & Africa is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8.1% from 2022 to 2028 (Business Market Insights, 2022).

Historically, MENA has been divided between countries rich in natural resources and relatively poorer countries in parts of Africa. The wealthier nations have opted for TETRA and P25 solutions, whereas the economic efficiency of cost-optimised digital has appealed to the more cost-sensitive governments. Replacement terminal shipments have recently dominated this market, accounting for more than 75% of deployments. There are notable examples in Middle East countries where new TETRA networks have been deployed to address the needs of sports as well as tourism-related contracts in Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, including for the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain as well as mission-critical solutions for the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

MENA has been an early adopter of LTE, with several private LTE networks for public safety in the region. However, TETRA is a tried and tested, established technology for public safety users, and Omdia projects that this region will continue to adopt TETRA well into the second half of the decade.

This dynamism and growth is reflected across the conference and exhibition of Critical Communications World. With a wealth of conference content including presentations covering critical communications for vertical sectors: smart cities, airports and utilities; how to increase efficiency and security for critical communications users; the use of AI, early warning systems and more. Topics around networks – whether narrowband, 4G, 5G or looking forward to 6G, the conference looks at how the critical communications sector is moving forward.

Within the conference, and within their own dedicated area of CCW, governments from around the world will be bringing their perspectives to share in CCW’s unique Government Authorities Global Village. This provides a forum for government operators of critical networks to meet with their counterparts from other nations, to discuss progress and compare experiences. Critical communications networks around the globe are in various stages – from established TETRA networks that are being enhanced and contracts extended, to early-stage hybrid networks where critical broadband is being introduced, to fully fledged critical broadband networks already serving thousands of critical users. The Global Village is representative of all.

There are many, many elements that need to come together to ensure truly mission-critical networks and services, and CCW’s Focus Forums take a more in-depth look at key areas. With concentrated sessions providing knowledge sharing and comprehensive updates in each topic area, and led by our TCCA Working Group chairs, the 2024 Focus Forums will cover critical broadband roadmaps, legal and regulatory issues, interworking, testing and certification and TETRA.

CCW’s Focus Forums, the three-day conference, and the extensive exhibition, all are free to attend. It is an unrivalled gathering of those who are setting the agenda for the future, enhancing and advancing critical communications for the benefit of global society.

Critical Communications World takes place from 14-16 May in Dubai. Full details and how to register at www.critical-communications-world.com
All statistics quoted courtesy of Omdia unless otherwise stated.