On the way to 4G-LTE for professional mobile networks

A private mobile radio network also called "PMR" (private mobile radio communications) is an essential means of communication dedicated to actors with sensitive uses that require safety, security and reliability (e.g. police, emergency services, private security, etc.). Private radio system technologies (TETRA, DMR, LTE, INPT, WIFI, etc.) have been transformed with the needs of professionals. Voice communication is no longer sufficient, and they are now evolving towards high-performance and secure multimedia communication systems while maintaining basic functionalities such as PTT (Push To Talk by Walkie-Talkie).

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The professional radio network or professional mobile network is intended for actors who need to manage communications in dense and urban environments (interiors of buildings, business areas...) as well as in industrial or isolated sites.

These professional networks must resist power outages in crisis situations and must never be saturated, unlike mobile cellular networks to maintain quality mobile communication dedicated to mobile teams... With the new generations of 4G and 5G cellular networks (slicing), professional mobile networks can hybridise independent dedicated architectures with operated architectures to ensure the combination of greater resilience and control of the service level.

Professional mobile networks: what is it?

Professional mobile networks, or Private Mobile Radio (PMR) in English, are radio networks traditionally used for grouped communications requiring a high level of security in terms of reliability and resilience.

Mainly used by civil security professionals (e. g. armies, police, fire brigades, etc.), but also by industrial and transport companies, PMR networks are those that must remain operational in the event of a major crisis, ensuring a minimum communication service.

Its main qualities are:

  • A high level of security: it is an independent, resilient and confidential network, which is distinct from mobile networks open to the general public through the use of licensed frequency bands,
  • A high level of quality: communications are possible at long ranges and have good indoor coverage,
  • Cost optimization: : PMR networks are easily extensible and scalable, and are often the subject of international or European agreements to allow economies of scale in their deployment,


  • Group communication : this « group talk» feature is essential and consists in opening a radio channel so that all actors working on the same mission can receive the same communications almost instantly and at the same time.


However, "traditional" PMR networks, known as analogue, no longer meet the digital needs of their users (e.g. file and image sharing, etc.). To meet these new requirements, PMR networks are moving towards broadband et LTE standard on the 4G network.

Regulation of PMR networks at the international level

The frequencies used by PMR networks are generally those of the bands allocated to the mobile service by the Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Regulation of PMR networks at European level

Within the European Union (EU), the objective of allocating PMR frequencies is to harmonise technical conditions through European regulatory provisions adopted by the European Conference of Post and Telecommunications (CEPT).

These provisions, resulting from CEPT decisions and recommendations, are not binding on Member States: their level of implementation is left to the discretion of the signatory administrations in a purely voluntary approach.

Regulation of PMR networks at national level

In France, it is the Agence nationale des fréquences (ANFR) which is mandated by article 4.20-44-11 of the French Post and Electronic Communications Code to represent the country during European and international negotiation sessions.

Then, the frequency bands are distributed nationally between categories of services and between administrations (e.g. the Electronic Communications and Posts Regulatory Authority, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, etc.). And it is ANFR that establishes and maintains the national frequency distribution table.

For the use of the 50MHz, 60MHz, 80MHz, 160MHz and 400MHz bands as PMR networks, it is necessary to contact the ANFR which, on behalf of the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP), issues individual authorisations under three different schemes:

  • Individual authorisation by allotment: authorisation is given for a block of frequencies in a given geographical area, without specifically identifying potential users but guaranteeing protection against harmful interference,


  • Individual authorization by assignment: authorization is given according to the specific use of the frequency, it also guarantees protection against harmful interference, and any site relocation or conditions of use must be requested from ARCEP,


  • Individual authorisation for shared use: this time no protection guarantee, the authorisation for the use of frequencies is non-exclusive and therefore without protection guarantee vis-à-vis other users.


Thus, at the beginning of 2018, more than 24,000 PMR networks were individually authorised.

Finally, there are also frequency bands identified and managed by ARCEP whose use for a PMR network does not require prior authorisation. These bands are subject to a general authorisation regime: it is only necessary to notify the Arcep of the use to be made of the frequency band.

The opportunities of 4G-LTE for RMCs

Users of PMR networks (e.g. civil security professionals, industrial or transport companies, etc.) nowadays need to transmit voice, data and video content with the same level of security and availability as historical PMR networks.

However, we can see that many professionals share documents, photos or videos, sometimes confidential, with their smartphones without worrying about the security of these exchanges. The many applications supported by smartphones have become part of professional communication, and the growing simplicity and relevance of these means of communication must not be denied.

In addition, the 400MHz band, one of the most used for PMR networks, is approaching saturation.

To meet these new needs, the Ministries of Defence and Interior have decided to set up a new common infrastructure network in successive stages until 2025. In order to limit the cost of deploying these networks, 4G-LTE technology was chosen, as it is already widely used by public networks.

The ambition of these high-speed PMR networks is to regain on a secure professional tool the simplicity and possibilities offered by new telecommunications technologies, without losing the basic functionalities of the historical PMR networks.

In concrete terms, it is therefore a question of integrating data and video flows in "Push To Talk" (PTT), as allowed by historical PMR voice communications. The management of these networks should make it easier to create user groups by assigning variable rights to them, if necessary. It should also make it possible to benefit with the same tool from the opportunities offered by the geolocation of connected equipment, and therefore agents. In addition, the virtualized management of these networks can enable the implementation of predefined processes to be triggered if necessary, typically in a crisis situation.

The so-called "private LTE" or "PMR 4G" networks naturally attract a lot of interest from civil security professionals and other private companies who wish to benefit from these advantages while maintaining the security of a PMR network.

To this end, ARCEP opened in May 2019 a 40 MHz allocation window in the 2.6 GHz TDD band for professionals who request it. In mid-September, 3 players issued an interest: Hub One, EDF and Transdev.
Other solutions operated by operators can be proposed by operators such as the solution implemented by Orange on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior.

There are many uses: security of a major cultural event, monitoring and security of sensitive energy-generating infrastructures such as nuclear power plants, crisis management on railway networks, intelligent coordination of waste collection teams, etc.

Today, a few dozen 4G PMR networks are in use in France, and the PMR market is expected to grow at around 11% per year in France until 2025 thanks to this migration to 4G-LTE.

Finally, it should be noted that the switchover of these networks to 5G will be the logical evolution of the technology, to allow to improve services by benefiting from the possibilities of « slicing » (virtual and secure bandwidth splitting) and tracking of moving equipment through « beamfarming / beamtracking » for example.


Tactis expertise in professional mobile networks

Whether it is a project for a public authority (national or territorial), a public service or safety operator or a manager of an area (airport, port, mining operations, etc.), Tactis has a team with the expertise to support the technical, economic and regulatory study and the establishment of professional networks (indoor or outdoor) in France and in emerging countries (particularly in Africa).

In addition, Tactis is able to offer you, as part of an integrated turnkey offer, support in the implementation of a secure professional Voice, Data, Images/video platform service.

External sources









Tactis - Directeur associé - Benjamin Fradelle- Aménagement numérique des territoires

Benjamin Fradelle

Associate Director
Since 2002, Benjamin Fradelle has been developing expertise in digital spatial planning, both in terms of defining the strategy of local authorities and in the technical and economic approaches associated with public initiative networks.


Contact Benjamin Fradelle

A question about PMR networks ? Need to remove doubts in view of a future project? Send an email to Benjamin Fradelle, Tactis Associate Director.

Tactis - Directeur associé - Benjamin Fradelle- Aménagement numérique des territoires

Benjamin Fradelle

Associate Director Tactis
Since 2002, Benjamin Fradelle has been developing expertise in digital spatial planning, both in terms of defining the strategy of local authorities and in the technical and economic approaches associated with public initiative networks.
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