Virtual conference brings the industry together

Comms Connect (WFevents)

By Jonathan Nally
Thursday, 17 December, 2020

Virtual conference brings the industry together

The Comms Connect Virtual conference series covered a wide range of topics and attracted speakers from around the globe.

Following the imposition of COVID-19-related restrictions on gatherings and events in 2020, all in-person Comms Connect events had to be cancelled. But the WFevents team very quickly pivoted to an online model, culminating in the successful Comms Connect Virtual (CCV) conference series in November. Online attendances were excellent, no doubt attracted by the great line-up of local and international speakers the team had put together.

The first session, on 5 November, tackled the important topic of cybersecurity and the protection of critical infrastructure such as communications systems. NSW Chief Data Scientist Dr Ian Oppermann spoke about the future of society and accelerating technological change. John Beltz and Bill Fisher from NIST spoke about identity systems in the context of the interoperability of communications systems.

Nokia’s Steve Hwang gave a very interesting overview of how South Korea plans to keep its new public safety mobile broadband communications network secure. And SGS ECL’s Peter Jackson spoke about maintaining the security of industrial operational technology.

The second session, 12 November, covered private LTE. Simon Lardner spoke of how his company, Challenge Networks, has helped 17 clients deploy private LTE around the world. Randy Richmond (Zetron) outlined the sorts of things that customers and systems providers need to consider as they contemplate the switch from LMR to MCPTT command and control systems.

Rui Chen (Commtel Network Solutions) gave an interesting insight into some practical considerations for private LTE system design, using as a case study the installation of communications for remote pump sites in dense tropical forest.

Roger Kane (Vicom Australia) looked at various aspects of deploying private LTE systems, emphasising the need for complete end-to-end planning, from design to deployment to ongoing use and maintenance. And finally, Rodney Nebe from mining company Gold Fields presented a case study of the company’s impressive deployment and use of private LTE at several of its mines.

The third session, 19 November, was all about location and positioning services. Chris Stevens (CartGIS) spoke about GIS technology and how it is being used in real-world scenarios. Station Officer Graham Tait (NSW Fire & Rescue) outlined some of the technological changes happening in the first responder sector, including trials of positioning systems for tunnels, where GPS signals are generally not available.

Hamish Duff (Mastercom and Orion Networks) spoke about the capabilities of LMR systems to provide and use positioning information. And Benoit Vivier from the European Emergency Number Association gave an eye-opening look into automatic mobile location (AML) technology, which is enabling emergency services to pinpoint citizens in distress with accuracies as good as five metres.

The final session, 26 November, focused on the future of LMR and how it will survive and even thrive in a world of broadband technologies. Kevin Graham (ACCF) spoke about the convergence of voice and data services, and how industry and governments are moving to shared-platform models.

Simon Riesen and Dave Thuringer (DAMM Cellular Systems) provided a very interesting insight into frequency sharing within TETRA systems and how careful planning can vastly reduce frequency usage while enhancing redundancy. And Neal Richardson (Public Safety Network New Zealand) provided an overview of New Zealand’s recently announced next-generation public safety communications system. Once again, New Zealand is showing other countries how it should be done.

Peter Scarlata (Simoco) presented insights into the steady rise of digital systems worldwide, and how new business models are helping the LMR industry stay relevant. And finally, Lawrence McKenna (Cumarsáid) presented some very practical advice and feedback from the world of technical project management, outlining some of the pitfalls that unwary players can encounter.

It would not have been possible to present Comms Connect Virtual without the support of its sponsors, Zetron, DAMM Australia, Nokia, Vicom and Simoco Wireless Solutions, and association partners ARCIA, RFUANZ, TCCA, Critical Comms, GovTech Review, Radio China, RadioResource International and The Critical Communications Review. Their support was greatly appreciated.

Face-to-face Comms Connect conferences will return in 2021, with the first one kicking off in New Zealand in May and followed by Australian events on yet-to-be-announced dates. Keep an eye on the Critical Comms website ( for updates.

Image credit: ©

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