Broadband firms test moveable 4G net for public safety

Firms test movable 4G net for public safety

Broadband satellite provider Hughes Network Systems and Thales Defense & Security Inc., a supplier of movable network technology, announced the successful test of a rapidly deployable Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networking system operating via satellite.

The solution uses a combination of Hughes Spaceway 3 and Jupiter high-throughput network technologies, linked with Thales B-14 system-on-wheels, to provide rapidly deployable networking to emergency crews and first responders.

In announcing the test run, the companies said the private network system, “could be deployed virtually anywhere,” making it a good fit for emergency response networks such as FirstNet, the nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.

FirstNet is envisioned as a 4G network that will supply broadband communications to support voice, video and data, be interoperable between agencies and across jurisdictional lines and operate in the 700 MHz band set aside by the Federal Communications Commission.

"The key to emergency preparedness and response is ensuring first responders can communicate with each other and with Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) to share information about the disaster and coordinate the response to it – no matter where they are located," said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president for government solutions at Hughes.

Bardo said the Hughes-Thales solution would provide the public safety community a mobile network system that is “easy to use, dependable and enhances capabilities over current narrowband voice radio systems."

The two companies said they conducted situational testing on the 700MHz public safety spectrum to validate the network’s performance and interoperability with public safety network requirements.

Using commercially available smartphones and vehicular modems, first responders were able to easily communicate and share video with each other as well as EOCs via a local deployable broadband network, they said.

"Cellular and broadband networks see the most congestion right after a catastrophe," said Lewis Johnston, vice president of advanced programs at Thales, pointing out that first responders face “the same communication challenges as the general public at a time when the need to communicate between each other and with EOCs is the most critical.”

The test marks Hughes' latest offering for the public safety community and emergency operators. The firm said it has also successfully tested its satellite solutions for land mobile radio backhaul for two federal agencies and in multiple states, including the Louisiana Department of Public Safety. 

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