Interview with Avi Tooba, CEO Mobile Tornado Group

We recently interviewed Avi Tooba, CEO of the Mobile tornado Group and asked him about; the opportunities for MCPTT and PoC in the World Wide Public Safety environment, his thoughts about market challenges, the major increase of the R&D staff at the Mobile Tornado HQ and other questions concerning the migration of PMR to MCPTT over LTE.

Can you explain in more detail about your proposition for the enterprise and especially the public safety market?

Mobile Tornado delivers a complete E2E solution. On the server side, the solution can grow from a single server to a redundant configuration that can be deployed as an Active-Active Geo-redundant solution. This is specifically suited to public safety needs where reliability and availability is extremely important to their mission critical operation.

On the device side, we support iOS and Android that allow our customers to choose either smartphones or ruggedized special devices for their operation. We are cooperating with leading handset manufacturers and we have certified many devices for our network. We also provide a dispatch console for organizations that need it for their workforce management.

The recent press release stated that, since you joined the company in May this year, you have strengthened the technical team across all key areas. Can you provide more detail in how you have strengthened the team?

We have increased the R&D staff dramatically because of the huge demand from our customers and many new initiatives in our roadmap, this includes a new R&D design center in Ukraine.

Mobile Tornado is a technology company, to lead this market we must come up with innovative solutions for our customers that request solutions beyond the old PMR features.

As we currently see a migration from traditional PMR technologies such as TETRA and P25 towards Mission Critical Push to Talk solutions (MCPTT) over LTE, where does Mobile Tornado fit in this market. How do you see the company positioned?

Mobile Tornado has been in this market for over 10 years, it has enormous experience in PoC, but for years neither the cellular networks nor the devices have been available or reliable enough to replace the old PMR networks. As 3G became more available we saw more interest in our solution, with 4G our solution will surpass all PMR networks in features and call latency. We can deliver a lot more features at much lower cost with a lot more device offering for all kinds of users.

MCPTT will come later as part of our roadmap but it may turn out to be difficult to introduce the MCPTT standards into existing 3G/4G public networks.

In order to become one of the leaders amongst other larger companies for instant communications, what will you do differently in order to become this industry leader?

First and foremost, we must be the best, we need to deliver the most reliable solution with features that surpass the old PMR networks. We also need to deliver an E2E solution including a full featured dispatch console. Another aspect is the user experience and ease of use, here there is no room for mistakes. We also need to be very price competitive.

One of your target markets is the Public Safety market. One of the major challenges for Public Safety users is to receive call priority on Public networks for data and voice. How do you solve this issue and how reliable will your solution be in case of a large emergency situation, for example like the recent bombings in Brussels?

Once we talk about public safety, the most important parameter is coverage, this is not something we can solve without the operators help. We have one of the best vocoders that can operate at very low signal levels with good voice quality. About the QoS, this is also a function of the network and public safety users must turn it on for their operation, our app will be able to request it for the public safety devices during emergencies.

The 4G networks will deliver over 100-time capacity compared to Tetra and P25 networks, therefore other features will soon be available as well, such as video.

What is your distribution model?

We have several distribution models. The first one is on premise PTT network for a network operator and they support their customers. We have also several servers around the world that are used by many network operators for their customers. As their network becomes more populated by their users, these operators tend to buy their own PTT servers for on premise operation.
We have also many resellers in many countries that sell our solution, usually on one of Mobile Tornado’s servers closest to their territories.

Finally, we have partners that integrate our E2E solution into a much bigger Command & Control solution in public safety and military systems.
We also provide branded apps specifically for these operators or resellers.

Can you elaborate on the new upcoming products?

We are upgrading our servers to be a lot more efficient to support over 1M users. In the future, we plan to deliver a much smaller server for private customers with less than 5000 users as well. We are also planning a full featured dispatch console for large enterprise organizations and public safety organizations.

We plan a whole new device app to improve user experience and an SDK to allow our customers integrate our app into their app for their systems.

When do you think the PTT over LTE will replace the PMR networks?

The existing PMR networks are going to be around for a few years until the 4G networks will deliver the same footprint as these networks. There is no doubt 4G networks deliver much better capacity but coverage like the existing networks could take some time. However, the decisions are being made as we speak, several countries are already using these solutions, UK Home Office has already awarded a contract to move all public safety agencies to a public 4G network and of course US FirstNet initiative, which is a nationwide LTE network. We do not think setting up a whole new TETRA or P25 system now is a trivial or wise decision for any organization, there are a lot more options now.

"The public safety over broadband train has left the station, it can not be stopped."