Motorola to extend, transform Victoria's MDN

Motorola Solutions and the Victorian Government to trial new Metropolitan Data Network technologies

Motorola Solutions and the Victorian Government have signed a $41.5 million agreement to extend the management of Victoria’s Metropolitan Data Network (MDN) for two years from March 2015, with an option for two additional one-year extensions.

MDN was the first emergency communications network to be procured under a build, own and operate public-private services model in Australia.

Motorola Solutions originally signed a five-year contract with the Victorian Government in 2003 to design, build and manage the MDN, providing agencies with direct access to data in the field for the first time.

First deployed in 2005, it provides secure data for Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria, primarily across the greater Melbourne metropolitan region with roaming capability on to a commercial network to provide coverage beyond the metropolitan area.

The MDN is monitored and controlled by Motorola Solutions Australia’s network operation centre in East Burwood in Melbourne.

This is the second time the contract for MDN has been extended with Motorola Solutions, following a decade of successful service delivery, during which it has consistently met and exceeded service levels, including stringent availability targets.

The agreement will also see the agencies stay at the forefront of technological innovation, eventually enabling a wider choice of devices and applications, including the option to integrate bring your own device and application (BYOD and BYOA) solutions.

This would be managed without compromising MDN’s highly secure and reliable performance.

The contract positions the Victorian Government to deliver against a key goal outlined in its Emergency Management Long Term Communications Plan to “Establish a statewide, sector-wide broadband capability.”

In addition to MDN, Motorola Solutions manages the Metropolitan Mobile Radio network for ESTA and the emergency services agencies it supports. Motorola Solutions designed and built this network and has managed it for the Victorian Government since 2004.

Steve Crutchfield portrait photo

Motorola Solutions ANZ Managing Director Steve Crutchfield.

Critical Comms spoke with Motorola Solutions Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Steve Crutchfield to get a few more details.

CC: What technology does the MDN use, and where is the technology heading?

SC: It’s a narrowband technology that’s manufactured by Motorola - it’s a standard developed by Motorola. I guess one of the key things [is that] the State of Victoria has recognised that data is just as important if not more important than voice, and the fact that 10 years ago narrowband was enough. But there’s a clear recognition that the move to broadband is a key requirement of the state, and the opportunity to have a range of different devices and applications running over that environment is a key requirement. One of the key elements of this agreement is to work with the state to allow them to transform effectively to that end game, which is a statewide, ubiquitous broadband environment.

CC: Tell us more about the upcoming 4G trial aspect. What will that involve?

SC: Today with MDN, when a user roams outside of the metropolitan area they roam onto a 3G service. So we’ll be trialling 4G in a similar mode as a first step, and then in the second step we’ll be also running a proof-of-concept trial for Enhanced LANES.

CC: So Victoria is interested in an Enhanced LANES concept?

SC: Absolutely … in terms of security, prioritisation and providing that ubiquity and same experience across the state of Victoria is very valuable.

CC: How will you go about trialling BYOD and BYOA?

SC: As part of the initial scope of this contract extension, we are to work with the state to define user requirements so that they can understand what devices are going to best fit the needs of the user base out there. It’s a concept of the right device for the right user. In some cases that might be a consumer device in a BYOD environment versus a purpose-built, highly ruggedised device that’s a requirement of a user in emergency situations.

CC: What’s the timeline for the rest of the year?

SC: Clearly we have to manage the current environment and manage the life cycle of the current environment to make sure it continues to meet the high standards of the state. So that’s a clear baseline of the contract renewal. The workshops for the user requirements around devices will start to occur around the middle of this year. And then the trials of both 4G and Enhanced LANES will begin in earnest in the second half of this year and into the first half of next.

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