PacketHop announces first customer
Mobile-mesh software company PacketHop recently made its first customer announcement: the Lakewood, N.J., Police Department, which deployed the vendor’s solution during a music festival last September and has plans for a more complete rollout this year.
During Wingstock ’06 at FirstEnergy Park, police loaded PacketHop’s mesh-networking software on computers at its command post and on ruggedized computers in eight police cruisers, each of which also featured an analog video recording system and were strategically located (see related story in this issue’s dataNext supplement, beginning on page 12).
Operating on 4.9 GHz spectrum dedicated for public-safety use, the PacketHop solution created a broadband mobile mesh network between all of these computers, which shared real-time multicast video, GPS resource tracking, multimedia instant messaging and whiteboarding applications.
PacketHop is hopeful other public-safety agencies will notice. While the California-based company has garnered attention by participating in a couple of notable communications exercises that exhibited the capabilities of its technology, the performance of its mobile-mesh software was spotty when utilized in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band, where interference proved to be a significant limitation.
But three years worth of improvements to the system — most notably, optimized quality of service for video and cellular data networking support that makes backhaul accessible from most locations — and expansion to the licensed 4.9 GHz band has PacketHop President and CEO Michael Howse believing that “we’ve found the magic formula” for public safety. By operating in 4.9 GHz spectrum, PacketHop has realized significantly greater range and reliability in the 2.0 version of its software released in August.
“The 50 MHz of licensed spectrum at 4.9 GHz is pretty much critical for all these mission-critical, real-time applications that involve officers whose lives are on the line,” Howse said. “Interference at 2.4 GHz makes it impractical for mission-critical applications.”