JPS Communications brings high-rise building signal extender at APCO
At the JPS Communications booth at the APCO national conference in Nashville, Tenn., the company is showing a product intended to help public safety agencies with communications in high-rise buildings.
Although some buildings are equipped with radio infrastructure that extends coverage to higher floors, most are not. If a public safety agency’s radio network isn’t designed to reach the upper levels of high-rise buildings everywhere within its service area, special equipment can be deployed to extend the coverage at the time it is required.
The company’s president, Peter Pflasterer, said that the product, tentatively named PortaLink, was tested in some high-rise buildings in New York City within the past few days. PortaLink is a portable communications system that uses 2.4 GHz links on both ends to carry radio communications out of the window of a high-rise to the street below.
“The idea of the product is to pipe audio and data from one end to the other. The way it’s used in New York is that the end of the link on the street is connected to our computer-controlled cross-connect, the ACU-1000, in a communications van. The other end of the link may be near the top of a multi-story building. We conducted our tests in a 60-story building at 55 Water St.,” Pflasterer said.
The end of the link connects with a public safety radio that could be tuned to fire department or other frequencies for in-building penetration.
The New York Police Department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit was in charge of the tests. A spokesperson TARU was unavailable for immediate comment, but Pflasterer said that he believed that the tests were “extremely successful.”
The PortaLink is packaged of transportable cases. One end of the link is carried into a building. That part of the system is battery-powered and is self-contained with a tripod-mounted antenna. The link can carry video at the same time as audio.
Pflasterer said that another test conducted with TARU involved extending communications into an Amtrack railroad tunnel by dropping radios on umbilical cords connected to an ACU 1000 on the surface. “Those tests went well. NYPD is happy about that,” he said.
Pflasterer said that the problem public safety agencies have in New York is building penetration with normal VHF and UHF radios that can’t penetrate more than a few floors. He said that the PortaLink places a high-powered radio inside the building to extend coverage where it previously was lacking.
Although the 2.4 GHz links use tripod-mounted directional antennas that can be pointed at each other, he said that the specific orientation of the antennas is “fairly forgiving.”
Also, Pflasterer said that it is not necessary to place the link antenna outside.
“You can point it through the floor. We tested it in a 28-story building in Raleigh. We could move back 20 feet and point the antenna outside. It was not necessary to have the antenna outside or even get it to a window,” he said.
In other applications, the 2.4 GHz links are expected to have a free-space range of 30 miles, Pflasterer explained.
“For a 60-story building, you’re talking 600 to 1200 feet. That’s not a great distance, so the radios can withstand some attenuation,” he said.
The two-way radio placed in the building with the link could be fairly high-powered, Pflasterer estimated, including as much as 50 W. He said JPS’ own tests used a 25 W mobile radio. He said that he wasn’t sure of the power of the radio used in the New York test.
“We can imaging stationing some of these permanently in high-rise buildings for use when it might be necessary. At such time, it would be coupled with a link that stays with the mobile unit that would be dispatched to the scene,” Pflasterer said.