Ericsson (ERIC.Q) signed into an agreement to acquire Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MC-PTT) solutions provider, Genaker, today.

The acquisition beefs up Ericsson’s MC-PTT offering as the market for this device is going through a significant technology shift, because of course, there are apps that can turn your phone into a walkie-talkie.

“We have worked with Genaker as a partner in Mission Critical Applications for many years and we are now taking this step to further strengthen our end-to-end offering. We’re really excited that the Genaker team is joining us and that we can bring the value of their expertise to our customers,” said Monica Zethzon, head of solution area communication services for Ericsson.

Traditionally, you would see walkie talkie technology used by security guards and public safety communications using private land mobile radio (LMR) networks. Now the increasing demand for exchange of other types of data, like pictures and videos, has rendered the LMR networks nearly obsolete. Now the cellphone is the preferred medium to meet these requirements.

Ericsson has been involved with MC-PTT through their membership in the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a standards organization which develops protocols for mobile telephony, and has been driving the standardization from the start in 3GPP release 12. The 12th release involves enhanced small cells, carrier aggregation, and new and enhanced services. Now they’re taking the next step by investing in the MC-PTT applications and Genaker’s clients. The acquisition is building towards Ericsson’s focus on strengthening service providers’ capabilities towards mission critical users.

Our societies are in a state of acute change right now, especially given the rise of pervasive phenomena like COVID-19, and there may be a distinct possibility that communication via cellphone, which is the dominant mode of interpersonal communication today, may be either reliable or available. Having a strong, reliable alternative form of closed-network communication wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Canadian tech-scholar Marshall McLuhan said that some obsolete technologies don’t just disappear, they’re repurposed. The radio was de-centered in the home by the television, but it never really disappeared. It still has its place, often as an alternative for news or something to listen to in the car. When the internet came along the television was de-centered like the radio before it, but it still has a place in many homes. The walkie-talkie, or MC-PTT technology, hasn’t really disappeared, but instead been decentered as the means of networked communication by the cellphone, but it could easily serve as a cheaper, more reliable alternative in case of a catastrophe.

For example, if a natural disaster topples cellphone towers, killing the only form of communication for most people today, then having an alternative form of communication device that relies on batteries and bandwidth might be a Godsend.

Public safety communications are going through a period of transformation right now, and new opportunities are arising for telecom service providers and traditional MC-PTT operators. Ericsson’s solution was recently selected by Southern Linc, a U.S. communications service provider, who will provide the solution to its utility and public sector entity customers.

—Joseph Morton

Written By:

Joseph Morton

Joseph is a Vancouver-based author and journalist with both a communications degree and journalism diploma (and a few novels) under his belt. His joie de vivre is to spin difficult technical topics into more human-centric narratives. Buy him a coffee and he'll talk your ear off for hours about privacy issues, blockchain, cryptocurrency and martial arts. Don't talk to him if you're either a tomato, a bully, or if you're not a fan of either 1984 or Tender is the Night. No. You can still talk to him. Just be prepared to be told why you're wrong.

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