IWCE: M/A-COM unveils satellite-backhaul system
LAS VEGAS–Wireless systems vendor M/A-COM today at IWCE announced the availability of its P25 rapid deployment satellite system that is designed to link LMR systems deployed in remote locations to the outside world.
Crucial to the solution is M/A-COM’s VIDA strategy and NetworkFirst technology, which transforms all communications to Internet Protocol, allowing LMR links via any broadband connection, said Blake Nylund, M/A-COM’s direct of network products. In addition to providing LMR coverage in remote areas, the new M/A-COM solution can link LMR radios and other voice and data devices in the remote area to communications devices outside the area, including LMR, cellular, landline telephone and IP-based systems.
“We’ve had systems all along where you can … set them up real quick with crank-up towers and stuff,” Nylund said during an interview with MRT. “What we haven’t had is the ability to talk back to the people who are supplying the guys on the front lines—the people who are going to bring supplies in and help find resources for the guys on the ground. That’s the piece that has been missing.”
Providing the missing piece is M/A-COM partner 3Di Technologies, a Maryland-based that has used broadband satellite backhaul for military communications from troops stationed in locations such as Afghanistan and Iraq, 3Di Technologies COO Don Baker said.
Given the inherent physics of satellite systems, many industry experts believed that satellite backhaul in such a solution would be impractical because of latency issues. However, 3Di has reduced the typical latency to less than 700 milliseconds, which does not affect normal LMR communications, Baker said.
“All the naysayers that said this wasn’t really an applicable solution for land mobile radio—especially in a trunked environment—we basically just proved them wrong,” he said. “We’ve proved that, not only does it work, it works very well.”
In a remote area, the rapid deployment satellite system typically includes a M/A-COM P25 onsite repeater and related equipment, a portable generator, a portable omnidirectional antenna, a VoIP telephone, VIP console, wireless access port, satellite modem and “self-pointing” satellite reflector. All equipment is housed in rugged, fly-away containers and can be deployed within an hour, Nylund said.
“Our gear comes in rapid-deployment cabinets that you can ship the equipment in, you pull the faces off and you have a generator, set it up and away you go,” Nylund said. “We say that it takes an hour to set up, but our engineers say that—with the right people—you can have this set up in about 30 minutes.”
Although labeled as a M/A-COM P25 solution, the rapid deployment satellite system can work with other vendors’ P25 equipment, Nylund said. In addition, the solution can be used with conventional radio systems—from M/A-COM and other vendors—if additional gateways are used, he said. The system also is frequency agnostics, if appropriate antennas are deployed to provide coverage.
“You could have a conventional P25 on UHF, one in the fed band and one in the 800 MHz,” Nylund said. “The beauty of our system is that it talks to everybody together at the site and it also links them back to wherever they want to be linked—it can be radio to radio, radio to landline [telephone] or whatever you want.”
And the solution is available immediately, as M/A-COM will be prepared to accept orders on the system at its IWCE booth, where the system will be demonstrated, Nylund said.
In addition to serving as a solution for remote deployments, the price and performance of broadband satellite makes the technology worthy of consideration from fixed locations, Baker said. While T1 lines and microwave links typically are more economical as a primary backhaul system, satellite is a viable technology to provide a redundant link that can assure communications operability.
“People are realizing that satellite backhaul is becoming more economic for redundancy and emergency purposes,” Baker said.