Critical communications market $20 billion forecast valuation by 2020

Critical communications market overview

Every day, there are a multitude of situations where human life and other societal values are under threat and when timely and reliable communications between first responders are vital. This type of information exchange is known as critical communications.

Dynamic communication is essential for managing these situations, and especially when tasks are assigned to another person. The deployment of critical communications includes purpose-built communication equipment such as radios, software services and other robust communicating devices and programmes.

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The most common usage of critical communication as described above is by the emergency services, including ambulance, fire, police and coastguard agencies. However, their application is not limited to these sectors and plays a vital role in managing operations in such sectors as transportation, utilities and industrial units.

Market value, forecasts and projections

The global critical communications sector is in growth and is forecast to continue an upward trend over the next five years. ABI Research predicts that the US market alone will exceed $10 billion by 2020, accounting for just over half of total market share – meaning globally, the market holds a $20 billion forecast valuation.  

Command and control and mobile radio terminals hold more than two thirds of the total critical communications revenue and together have grown by 33% between 2013-2019 (Radio Resource International). In fact, command and control is the fastest growing segment throughout 2019 – because it’s the basis of the critical communications ecosystem.

What’s driving market value and where are the opportunities?

Public safety – government agencies that ensure the protection of citizens, typically including healthcare, law enforcement, security, social care and rescue services – accounts for over half of total market value and is predicted to grow by 181% to $6.9 billion by 2022.

The next biggest verticals are:

  • Industrial sectors such as oil, coal and gas manufacturing (+119% to $700 million by 2022)

  • Transportation including aviation, rail and motorways (+116% to $938 million by 2022)

  • Utilities, for example, electrical and water plants (+181% to $460m by 2022)

Growing economies

In terms of geography, the Asia Pacific – India and China in particular – promises highest growth, driven by regional economic growth, which is in turn is feeding infrastructural development, smart city deployment and heavy investment to mitigate the threat from terrorism and natural disasters. APAC is the second largest critical communications economy with 20% market share.

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Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa are the next biggest geographies for growth.

Changing technologies

Critical communications and public safety are going through a transition toward digital and broadband technologies. As a result, critical communications systems are slowly evolving from the current TETRA, DMR, and P25 to coexist and interoperate with LTE-based systems.

The new digital LTE market is currently worth £600 million in annual infrastructure spending but is predicted to reach over $2 billion by 2020 (Radiant Insights, 2019).

Nevertheless, the trusted analogue technologies are still in growth, recording +7% revenues from 2017-2018 and with a rolling average of 6% growth forecast year on year to 2022 according to a report by the TCCA.

The transition to digital is gradual and affecting all verticals, making the opportunity sizeable. Businesses and organisations are modernising and replacing critical communications infrastructure and software in readiness for the technology revolution that’s underway.

However, transportation is set for the highest growth rates (2017-2023) in the critical communications marketplace. Increasing security needs at high-risk transit locations, including airports, railways and more, have given rise to this opportunity.

Services growth is also expected as organisations seek support in consultancy, integration, maintenance, training and education in critical communications solutions. These organisations will look to trusted suppliers for this insight and recommendations, which creates a strong business case to build a critical communications portfolio for solutions providers across many verticals including:

  • Transportation

  • Public safety

  • Utilities

  • Industrial sectors

Command and control solutions and software are in demand as developing regions around the world invest in new control room solutions and mature markets drive demand for updated technologies in the interests of public safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Software-as-a-service is another emerging opportunity in the critical communications arena. Historically, the most secure organisations – particularly public safety agencies – would not deviate from on-premise solutions. However, now aware of the operational and cost benefits of licence-based solutions, as well as their growing need for integration, interoperability with other departments and analytical data outputs, the opportunity is ripening.

As agencies look to revamp how they respond using critical communications, they’re increasingly interested in exploring the SaaS options available.


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