Softil Blog

IWCE 2024 Impressions – MCX Train is Departing the Station

Coming back fresh off an intense week of International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) 2024, I can’t help but to reflect on what transpired in Orlando, Florida.
In short, MCX is happening. In a few more words, MCX is reaching critical mass.

Yes, you can glance over what I just wrote, say “ha, what’s new”, and go on your merry way. MCX, 3GPP standards-based broadband group communications technology had been actively discussed and pronounced “happening now” for the past 7+ years. And yet outside of South Korea, you will be hard pressed finding first responders in the field using MCPTT (a push to talk portion of MCX). However…

We were talking with Ken Rehbehn, one of the top industry analysts covering broadband communications space, and Ken used a very good analogy which I have to borrow, to explain my uncontainable enthusiasm. Imagine a train standing at a station. Not one of those high speed or metro line trains, but a freight train, carrying 40–50 cars, each heavily loaded to the brim. When this train starts moving, the initial motion is very, very slow. For a while, you are sure that train is standstill, until the forward motion is noticeable. Slow, a bit faster, and then it’s gone.

This is what is happening in the MCX space right now. The train is actually departing, and the forward motion can be already observed.

In the conference sessions, MCX was readily discussed. MCX was a subject of presentations and panel discussions, and MCX was actively discussed in the audience. MCX deployments were discussed, including the end-user perspective, such as the one of Chief Joe Duvall, the Chief of Police of Dallas, Georgia. There were powerful opinions shared from the audience, some even angrily asking how come FirstNet allows deployment of proprietary PTT technologies where it really should only promote standards-based MCPTT.

Device to device communications, a missing link to the full-blown, unconditional, end to end deployment of MCX was finally discussed on the solution level, powered by Qualcomm’s 5G-Sidelink technology. T-Mobile announced their MCPTT service, and Verizon will be following the same path over the next few months, effectively completing the picture with all major US carriers now offering standards-based MCPTT technology.

Speaking about Softil, we were happy to share our expertise and experience, participating in 3 panel discussions. We also had a great time at the Softil booth, with great number of visitors coming to see our live MCX demo, showcasing AdvanceTec Industries’ vehicle mountain MCPTT terminal, L3Harris XL–200 hybrid MCX/P25 radio, and Catalyst IntelliLink dispatch solution connected to the live Southern Linc Critical Linc MCX network and interoperable with standard MCPTT application running on the smartphone.

The main attraction, however, was live D2D demonstrations conducted by Qualcomm at our booth, showcasing MCX direct mode (off-network) standards-based communication between MCPTT applications from Softil and Alea (a Leonardo company), enabled by Qualcomm’s 5G-Sidelink technology. It is important to mention that the use cases for the 5G-Sidelink go well beyond just the public safety vertical, offering the “last hope” communication and message exchange for everyone where mobile network is simply not available – think of natural disasters, for example. But for the public safety operations, direct mode communications is a critical piece of the puzzle – the transition to public safety broadband can be completed only when direct mode broadband communications will be in place. This is what Qualcomm’s 5G-Sidelink enables, and Softil’s BEEHD SDK facilitates – once complete, all of Softil partners will be able to add support for direct mode communication to their products.

Last but not least it is always give us great sense of pride knowing that our partner products are MCX-enabled with the Softil technology – AdvanceTec, Catalyst, Eventide, JRC, L3Harris, Sepura, Tait, Zetron – and it is great to see these products live on the show floor.

MCX is happening. The train is leaving the station. You can still catch the train and join MCX rEvolution, but the time to act is now – unless, of course, you enjoy running after the train.


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