Last Thursday, the local radio communications industry gathered at Comms Connect Brisbane, a one-day event dedicated to discussing trends, sharing ideas and networking with peers. The program spanned a range of topics like wireless mesh, Li-Fi, radio spectrum management, Internet of Things, private LTE and the next generation 5G technology.

Opening the event, Hamish Duff, President of Australian Radio Communications Industry Association (ARCIA) gave a brief review of recent events in the industry while Ian Miller, Executive Officer of ARCIA provided insight into technology trends in public safety. Ian talked about the proposed Pan-European public safety broadband project which is at an advanced phase of procurement, along with an update on Australia’s own Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB), setting the scene for Sohan Domingo (of Nokia) who provided a vendor’s perspective of PSMB.

The 5G hype

As to be anticipated, 5G featured prominently on the program with Roger Kane and Dale Stacey both presenting updates on the development, current trends, challenges and the potential applications of 5G technology.  While 5G vs 4G is a heavily debated topic in our office, it was encouraging to hear from the presenters that the technology will overcome its RF challenges and become the desirable option to enable driverless cars and augmented reality.

Dr Haider Sabti and I presented a case study on the deployment of a private LTE network including a demonstration on the Huawei Rapid Deployment LTE system which was implemented for the client. The first-hand live demo successfully showed how the system can support voice calls using PTT, video calls and data transfers (emails) between ruggardised handhelds and an operator console.  Interestingly, a similar unit played a vital role during the Thailand cave rescue proving its ability to support both voice and video traffic in a public safety environment.

The thing about of IoT

Another buzz-topic for the industry is the Internet of Things (IoT), and my colleague Haider was also on the panel discussing “The growing footprint of IoT – delivery, application and outcomes”.

A lengthy and lively discussion was had on the rapidly growing IoT innovations including: how vendors and integrators are adopting different technologies for implementation of IoT networks, how IoT low cost, easy deployment and reliability makes it an attractive technology, and IoT applications and solutions as a means for effective application in the industrial control domain.

Haider also listed examples, such as wellhead smart pressure sensors and asset tracking devices, where IoT can be used for automation within the mining, oil and gas operational environments which he believes can support growth in production, reduce downtime and increase capital gain.

Discussion led to the existing IoT spectrum allocation in Australia and around the globe, and ACMA’s approach to setting private spectrum within their current framework and regulations to enable businesses to benefit from IoT. This topic raised several questions from the audience debating the need for standardisation in terms of IoT operations and frequency allocations.

The time-honoured tradition of the ARCIA Industry Gala Dinner wrapped up the conference. Held on the rooftop of the Rydges Southbank against the stunning backdrop of the Brisbane River and city skyline, the dinner provided the opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues and hear about the Motorola radio system used for the GC2018 Commonwealth Games.

Events of this calibre take a great deal of time and effort to pull together and, with this year’s local Comms Connect conference representing four years in Brisbane, credit must go to Paul Davis and his team at WF Events who continue to deliver a bigger and better event each year.