Coast Guard uses F4W network in Wilma’s aftermath
Tactical wireless broadband solutions developer F4W yesterday announced it has deployed a disaster-response network in Miami in support of the U.S. Coast Guard’s relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.
This marks the second time within months that the U.S. Coast Guard has used F4W solutions, having deployed the vendor’s easy-to-use gear in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina struck in August.
“Anyone with limited knowledge can pull this out of the box, set the devices up with one sheet of paper of instructions and acquire and set up a self-forming, self-healing network,” said F4W President Harry Timmons. “Our middleware inside there allows them to communicate with each other and brings the network together.”
Timmons said F4W’s middleware permits efficient, secure broadband connections between wireless mesh nodes provided by Motorola, although F4W had used MeshNetworks for years before the industry giant bought the fledgling company.
In addition, the F4W solution uses Tachyon quick-deploy satellite systems as an uplink that allows communications with the outside world via voice-over-IP (VoIP) provided by Packet8.
Timmons said the tactical networks can operate for as long as 72 hours using only a battery from a motorcycle or a car. Although the circumstances have been unfortunate, Timmons said his company has gained a great deal of knowledge from the disaster-related deployments that will be used to improve F4W’s product in the future.
“For us, it’s been a wonderful learning experience,” Timmons said.