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Mission Critical Comms â€“ HighLighted No. 6
‘HighLighted’ is a spotlight on innovative mission critical communication solutions developed by European SME’s…
In this issue… Special:
A view on the he latest developments regarding mobile data for Public Safety Services… Mission Critical Comms – HighLighted No. 6 2
Goodmill Systems: multi-channel secure broadband connectivity…
… s t ..! n e ed m st p o po l e u v e o y d t p s e ee t La e k W
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In This Issue… 6. A thought about mobile data developments… 8. Public Safety Services broadband developments… 11. About the influence of land mobile networks… 15. About closing the gap… 18. A multiple network approach… 22. A router solution approach… 25. Router solution software requirements… 28. Router solution hardware requirements… 32. About remote management requirements… 35. Summary
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1. A thought about mobile data developments…
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The demand for cost savings and improved efficiency are a constant demand to public safety organizations everywhere. Simultaneously the mobile connectivity has changed the lives of everyone. With the boom of handheld smartphones every user understands the benefits and capabilities of the wireless internet. However, most of the public safety operators lack behind in TETRA â€“type low bandwidth data solutions or even older analog technologies with no data capabilities. It is difficult to understand why an expensive public safety vehicle shouldnâ€™t have the same or better capabilities than most of the 1st world teenagers today have in their pockets. Efficient modern public safety organizations demand access to databases like patient records, criminal registers, stolen car registers and even building drawings. A key imperative is that this data is always up to date; otherwise our security and health is endangered. Also other modern applications are needed now and near future. Online, distributed video streaming is probably the most wanted application at the moment. All of the modern PSS services require thus secure, resilient and redundant always online connectivity. Mission Critical Comms â€“ HighLighted No. 6 7
2. Public Safety Services broadband developments…
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The driver in the PSS broadband network development seems to be the possibilities that new LTE technology will provide. There are still many approaches what the development will be, but all of them have the idea that ultimately the whole communication in PSS will be done over high data rate IP networks. First option is to have totally dedicated network for PS sector. The benefits of this solution are the full control over the network, flexibility to changes when needed and dedicated capacity. The major disadvantage is the price, the build-up and ramp-up time and the final coverage and availability achieved with the invested money. Second alternative would be to build just dedicated radio access network. In this scenario the PS would build own dedicated base stations, but would rely on commercial core. The benefits would be that PS could specify the RAN requirements and would have dedicated RAN capacity. Disadvantages are similar to own dedicated networks in RAN cost redundancies.
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Third option would be to assign dedicated channels for commercial networks. Benefits of this are needed and assured RAN capacity that would be provided cost efficiently. The future flexibility in the pressure of commercial networks could be challenged and thus close co-operation with the commercial carriers would be a requirement. Fourth option is based on an enterprise â€“type approach. In this case the network would be fully shared, but there would be a special service layer implementation. This would provide high cost efficiency and flexibility in service level agreements. On the other hand, this solution has problems of guaranteeing dedicated capacity to PS users. Fifth and the most service orientated approach is a fully shared retail network. This would be highly cost efficient and would be simple to operate and this approach can be implemented already today. The disadvantages include the inability to give dedicated capacities, would provide for less service flexibility and could mean higher user fees.
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3. About the influence of land mobile networks …
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There are also public safety digital solutions for voice and limited amount of data that have been implemented worldwide. These TETRA, Tetrapol, P25 and similar networks often have wide coverage areas, and bare significant costs to todayâ€™s operations. The ultimate questions are thus: What will be the future network model for broadband data? What will be the role of installed digital LMR networks? What is the migration path for to converge mission critical voice and data? A view on the drivers for the transformation is nicely presented in a document by US Department of Homeland Security.
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This illustrates well the current status of the PS vehicle communications and states the possible transition with the aim to fulfill the general and technical requirements for the ultimate evolution towards the integration. The sector is using already today quite a few applications where not only the Land Mobile Networksâ€™ data capabilities are used, but also noncritical data applications. These solutions often include vehicle computers with a single broadband link. All mission critical data is using the limited capacities of the LMR â€“networks. The used services require more and more critical data applications and hence the discussion around transitional dedicated networks. The criticality is the key enabler for the future data applications. When the current applications are taken more and more towards enabling criticality, the requirements for the transition need to be taken into more close attention.
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4. About closing the gap…
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First, letâ€™s look at the general requirements a bit more closely. If we consider the alternatives for the future development presented previously, the funding is the major influencing factor. With the current economical situation in the world, it would be unreasonable to think that a major part of the countries would either build their totally own dedicated broadband networks or even build the access networks required for the critical operation. The alternative of implementing dedicated channels or dedicated service layers seems monetarily more appropriate. This, however, will require a creation of policies, partnerships and planning that will take their time. These novel approaches will also require still research, development and testing. As still all is possible and still price effective, this kind of approaches will certainly provide the paths towards future implementations.
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The fifth alternative, using existing commercial networks, would be easiest to implement but questions the most important aspect of the future services. Will commercial networks ever fulfill the criticality demands of PS data? If we could overcome the challenges of guaranteed access, quality of service, reliability, resiliency, roaming, spectrum efficiency and high availability with current networks, we could use existing solutions for mission critical data. This would also mean that no transitional network phase is needed. This is certainly an interesting thought.
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5. A multiple network approach…
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Most of the challenges can be tackled by smartly using not one, but several existing networks for the data. By combining readily available networks the access can be improved significantly, the reliability and resiliency is not of a single network, but of an independent combination. Availability and quality of service are what the operators can jointly offer. The network infrastructure providers will naturally develop the spectrum efficiency to maximize the efficiency of their network and roaming could be provided between networks, using the best one available. What do these combined networks the practically have to offer? The challenge is the always online connectivity especially when we are in moving vehicles. The recent studies show sometimes as low as 70% availability for any single 3G network even in the best coverage areas.
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Example of single and multiple broadband network availability. Goodmill data from tets in downtown Helsinki, 2011.
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The usually discussed needed availabilities for PS broadband are at the level of 99%. It is clear that providing that kind of availability over dedicated networks incorporates huge costs when applied over a larger region. It is understandable that the single carrier approach that occasionally provides these low availabilities is not sufficient. Luckily the statistics help with the multiple network approach. With two 3G networks, as presented here, as low as 64% over first network and 76% over the second one provide a combined availability of over 99%! Just by using two networks the availability needed can thus be met, and introducing 3rd network enhances that even further. When the switch over from network to another is seamless, one can claim that this approach provides for the needed technical functionality that is acceptable for critical communications already today. Why isnâ€™t this approach then used more widely today? It is because this solution requires for router equipment in the vehicle with very special features that are unmet by established router manufacturers today. Mission Critical Comms â€“ HighLighted No. 6 21
6. A router solution approach…
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The needed router solution for critical data, independent of what solution is required, needs thus to include the smart usage of many networks. The more flexible the used WAN link configuration is, the more flexibility, reliability, resilience and security can be provided. The router solution needs to include a wide variety of links, a top of class encryption capabilities, fast switch over from network to another and a possibility to remotely manage and to have an overview of the connectivity. The system needs to be able to provide seamless services to vehicle that include, but are not limited to: •image and file transfer •database queries •location based services •biometric checks •and ultimately streaming video
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These services can be used in critical environment only by routers that are specifically designed for the purpose. This includes hardware, software and management features.
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7. Router solution, software requirements…
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The most important feature is the capability to switch over from network to another seamlessly, without any service interruptions. First thing to implement in this case by many manufacturers is the Mobile IP â€“tunneling. This technology hides the network changes from the termination point and enables fast switch over without unnecessary VPN negotiations.This is always encrypted traffic, so various levels of VPN encryptions will be used by different user organizations. MIP also guarantees session persistency so that the users are not required to re-authenticate to their backend systems every time a link is changed. But MIP cannot handle the fast witch over itself. The mobile networks are extremely dynamic and having data streams to and from moving vehicles increases the demands of the connection. The networks are mainly designed to serve nomad customers and have problems with using only routing protocols to keep up with the vehicle location in the network.
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Solutions that rely on routing protocols cannot efficiently detect fast enough when a certain link is down and thus is not capable for quick decisions on when to change the link. The only feasible solution is to use predefined routes and predict at all times the best possible routing for all the used links. Decision making criteria for understanding when one network is not good enough has to be highly sophisticated. The router software requirements include also the capability of autonomously control the used modems. The modems tend sometimes to stay in â€œhangingâ€? mode and look like they are connected to the network, but no data is transmitted. This and other similar dysfunctions need to be detected by the router and software needs to wake the modems up.
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8. Router solution, hardware requirements…
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The market offers quite a few appliance hardware solutions for router developers. These appliances are not designed to handle the specific requirements of critical PS communication. The first needed requirement is flexibility. When the connectivity is introduced to wide areas, it is often demanded that various routers have quite different hardware configurations. This is mostly emphasized in the WAN link flexibility. In many cases two links might be enough to fulfill the criticality demands, but there are cases where 3 or even 4 links are necessary. These links need to include all UMTS technologies (3G and 4G), but also capabilities for all CDMA based technologies and even satellite connectivity. Robustness of hardware is a must in these demanding applications. Although the routers are located inside the vehicles, the shock resistance and IP classification needs to be high. It is clear that consumer products or slightly upgraded consumer products will no offer the long time durability required.
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Router demands also carrier class hardware approach when it comes to updating the software. When remote software update is implemented, the router needs to test it before taking into use. This requires double memories. There is also needed a software functionality for fall back to elder functioning version if something goes accidentally wrong. It is crucial that the routers are never lost in the field. Sometimes just software based booting of the equipment is not enough. It is upmost important that the hardware has functionalities to mechanically switch the power off. This mechanical power switched, controlled by the software, are one element of a perfect solution for PS. Similar functionality is needed in the power back-up. The vehicle on battery should be used, but with starting the vehicle the power to the router should be remained. Special up to 30 seconds back-up without extra battery is thus needed.
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9. How about remote management requirements…
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A horror for the PS broadband user is just a box with no remote monitoring, configuring or set-up possibilities. The demand is that the connectivity to all routers, even to thousands of units, should be monitored from a one secure system from a secure location. The communication between the management server and the router should not depend on which links are used for the actual network connection and it should always be encrypted. Software upgrades shall be made easy in a way that even large amounts of routers can be updated simultaneously. The routers in themselves should not have fixed IP address requirements for security reasons. The contact to management should always be initialized by the router. Easy management interface that can handle the number of routers and does not require any special coding expertise is needed.
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The status of the routers and their links including connections, modems and even SIM-cards should be made possible to monitor over large amount of routers with a simple graphical interface.
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Broadband connectivity is currently implemented to public safety vehicles around the world. Some are implementing the connectivity using current available commercial technologies, some are using the dedicated networks or hybrid approaches of these. No matter what the approach is, the criticality demands of the communication demand multiple network approach. This is because the costs of secure enough and everywhere available fully dedicated networks are not economically feasible and will not find funding. Special purpose router equipment, a multichannel router, is required for the purpose. No general appliance based or originally for consumer use developed routers can meet the requirements for secure always on-line connectivity. The solution has special requirements for software, hardware and remote management. When all of these areas are considered in the design, the ultimate target of providing critical connectivity can be met cost efficiently.
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European market introduction CFocus supports, on behalf of her clients, the European market introduction of mission critical communications solutions. If you want more information and/or become a sales partner, please contact us!
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