Crit Comms Unwrapped: Meet the panellists - Adrian Scrase

Our brand new panel discussion series, Crit Comms Unwrapped, is coming at the start of May with a discussion on the move to mission critical broadband. We spoke to one our panellists, Adrian Scrase, about his role in the 3GPP standardisation process.
Crit Comms Unwrapped: Meet the panellists - Adrian Scrase
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Our brand new panel discussion series, Crit Comms Unwrapped, is coming at the start of May with a discussion on the move to mission critical broadband. We spoke to one our panellists, Adrian Scrase, about life after retirement and his role in the 3GPP standardisation process.

What have been doing since your formal retirement in July of last year?

Prior to retirement, I was appointed as a visiting professor at the university of Surrey, and I’m still actively engaged with that, particularly looking at the way from 5G to 6G. I’m on the steering board for the 6G innovation centre, trying to help make sure we know where we’re heading and that research is aligned with standards and future needs. 

In addition to that I have a small consultancy and do small pieces of work, spread between commercial companies and non-profit organisations. I have a particular affinity for non-profits because that’s where I’ve been for the last 30-odd years of my career. 

You have been heavily involved in the 3GPP broadband standardisation process. Can you talk about the evolution of that, and the increasing role being played by mission-critical organisations?

We’ve been working on mission-critical standards based on different mobile ‘generations’ for more than a decade now. Obviously prior to that, we had TETRA and other technologies. 

Over 10 years ago, there was an ‘a ha!’ moment, with the realisation that we had to move on. I then became involved in the very early discussions with TCCA members saying, well, what can we do? We want to use mobile generations of standards for our work, but a lot has to change.

Honestly, at that point, there was a lot of scepticism about whether that change would even be possible. So, one of my roles was to shepherd the work as a go-between for TCCA, 3GPP and ETSI. 

We tried to promote the overall benefit of that approach, and make sure that all parties could find a middle ground. That’s what standards is all about. Everyone has to give a bit.

How similar is the current environment to what was envisaged when the standardisation process started? 

That’s the interesting thing, because the whole timeline concept was entirely different from what actually happened. Here we are 10 years later, and having spent a decade writing the standards, we haven’t actually seen mass deployment of this approach within the mission-critical community. 

Of course, there are very good reasons for that, and to me that’s one of the lessons that repeats itself in standardisation. Timing is everything, but you can never really predict the timing need.

What were the specific factors that caused the mission-critical timeline to change so drastically?

One of the reasons is that conditions keep changing. For instance, if we reflect on how the world looked in 2012, it’s completely different from today. 

At the time, the community I was working with was very clear that this was for blue light – police, fire ambulance – and if we get the job right, we can then worry about other things. But now the world has changed significantly, and some major world events have occurred.

We’ve come full circle, realising that mission-critical has to be treated as a whole, and not just as a solution for blue-light services. Personally, I’m not disappointed by that. 

There’s an obvious lesson to learn here. Going forward, don’t try to predict what’s going to happen, because you’re probably going to get it wrong. 

The full interview with Adrian can be read in the forthcoming May 2024 edition of Critical Communications Today magazine and you will be able to watch the Crit Comms Unwrapped panel discussion here on the Crit Comms Network from May 7th.

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