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The arrival of 5G, cognitive radio and the future of connectivity

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We are very excited about 5G, we have already reported on how the UK emergency services are moving over to a LTE network, and inevitably 5G is the next step for better, faster and more capable communications.  Not planned to be deployed until the next decade, we believe that 5G will allow us to communicate better with our Walkie talkies. The original article can be found here.

With faster and more reliable connections, we look at what the next generation of communications could mean for business

From smart cities to the internet of things (IoT), virtually every aspect of the modern world is becoming closely connected.

The extent to which we rely on our devices and the exchange of information means new systems are needed that not only handle far greater bandwidth, but that are capable of being deployed to cover areas that were previously unreachable.

The potential benefits for business are huge, with faster and more reliable connectivity not only enhancing how firms interact with customers and each other, but also lending itself to greater flexible working among staff.

The arrival of 5G

One development that many industry observers believe could be revolutionary is 5G. Following on from 4G, the fifth-generation mobile network is in its early stages of development and is expected to be rolled out between 2020–25.

Any tech that contributes towards the next phase of mobile connectivity is covered by the term 5G. And although there are still no set standards or specifications, the GSMA – a trade body that represents global mobile operators – has outlined eight key criteria, stipulating minimum requirements for speed, capacity and energy in order for something to be considered 5G.

According to Ofcom, once operational 5G could provide between 10–50 Gbps (gigabit per seconds) in download speeds (as compared to the 5–12 Gbps of 4G), and although most experts expect it to be at the lower end of the range, that would still mean you could download an HD movie in seconds.

But rather than simply being faster than the current 4G, it will also allow more devices to access the web – an essential requirement if the IoT is to take off – meaning it could be transformative for business.

Raj Sivalingam, executive director of telecoms for techUK, the trade association for the tech sector, says: “The potential of the IoT, particularly in the enterprise environment, has been hugely debated but its impact is almost certainly still undervalued.

“Mass deployment across sectors will boost efficiency and safety with pre-emptive fault correction; enable automatic reporting of accidents and allow real-time asset tracking, reducing crime and increasing productivity, to name just a few benefits.”

One potential bottleneck for 5G is spectrum availability – or lack of it. Radio frequencies for both 3G and 4G are already overcrowded. The provision of a new bandwidth will require widespread cooperation between operators, manufacturers and governments.

Infrastructure is also an issue, says Sivalingam. “Making the leap to 5G mobile services and getting more fibre into the fixed telecommunications networks will require substantial amounts of investment.

“We need the government and industry stakeholders to work to shift the UK from good levels of connectivity to great levels so that we continue to attract investors and startups, and to foster innovation from within the UK.”

Cognitive radio

One possible solution is cognitive radio. An adaptive radio and network technology, it can sense and respond to its operating environment and automatically tune itself to the best available frequencies, this makes it more reliable in extreme locations where signals are weak, potentially providing dependable, robust connections that are not hampered by interference or geography.

Finland-based KNL Networks has developed a system using the technology that uses short wave radio to transmit internet access to sites in remote locations ranging from oil rigs to polar research stations. KNL Networks CEO Toni Linden says: “We can provide similar connectivity to those from satellites but with a terrestrial radio system. Our radios receive the whole spectrum all the time, so rather than scanning, real-time broadband receiving is going on. Thus we can see and measure everything that’s going on in the spectrum and we can maintain the network connectivity that way.”

The tech opens up the possibility of providing seamless connectivity anywhere, giving business reliable online access to markets in parts of the world that have otherwise been unreachable. It could also enable media and other companies to broadcast without the need for expensive satellites.

Quantum key distribution

It’s not just data transmission, speeds and connectivity that pose challenges in the future, but the safety of that data too. Cybercrime is ranked alongside terrorism as among the most serious threats to the UK [pdf], and with data now the lifeblood of modern business, securing that data is of paramount concern. One technology that could provide the answer is quantum communications.

Conventional encryption relies on sending a decryption key alongside your secret data. The receiver then uses that key to decode your secret information. But problems arise because hackers can also copy this key and steal your data.

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is different because it encodes this key on light particles called photons, and an underlying principle of quantum mechanics means that a hacker trying to read or copy such a key would automatically alter its state, effectively leaving a hacker fingerprint so the sender and receiver know their information security had been breached.

China recently launched a quantum satellite to further research into this technology, with the hope of developing an uncrackable communications network.

In the UK, the Quantum Communications Hub is part of a national network of four hubs led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York. Director Tim Spiller says: “We are developing quantum communications technologies along a number of different directions, notably short-range free space QKD, where the transmitter could be in future mobile phones, and chip-to-chip QKD through optical fibre, where the chips could be in future computers and other devices.”

With two thirds of British business falling victim to cybercrime in the past year the need for better encryption is clear.

Several companies currently offer commercial quantum key distribution systems include ID Quantique, MagiQ Technologies, QuintessenceLabs, SeQureNet and Toshiba, although its high cost and limited range means mainly banks and governments are its main users, with mainstream adoption still some way off.

Spiller added: “Certainly it would be desirable to improve the size, weight, power and cost points of current technologies and our work in the hub and elsewhere is addressing all these factors.”

Paul Lee, head of technology, media, and telecommunications research at Deloitte, highlighted a number of improvements which he expected to see coming down the line, including improved mobile antennae and base stations, as well as improvements to fixed networks such as G.fast that would enable copper cable to operate at much higher speeds.

“As they get steadily faster, new services emerge to exploit these greater speeds, which then requires the deployment of even faster networks. This tail chasing has been going on for decades and won’t stop in 2017.”

MIT’s new method of radio transmission could one day make wireless VR a reality

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VR is the Buzz word for this year, every technology company clambering to get their headset out on to the market. Much of the market needs to catch-up though, the power of home computing needs to improve and removing the inevitable extra cabling and wires that come with current headsets. Luckily this article is about the future technology of VR headsets, see what we can expect as this technology grows.

If you want to use one of today’s major VR headsets, whether the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the PS VR, you have to accept the fact that there will be an illusion-shattering cable that tethers you to the small supercomputer that’s powering your virtual world.

But researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) may have a solution in MoVr, a wireless virtual reality system. Instead of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transmit data, the research team’s MoVR system uses high-frequency millimeter wave radio to stream data from a computer to a headset wirelessly at dramatically faster speeds than traditional technology.

There have been a variety of approaches to solving this problem already. Smartphone-based headsets such as Google’s Daydream View and Samsung’s Gear VR allow for untethered VR by simply offloading the computational work directly to a phone inside the headset. Or the entire idea of VR backpacks, which allow for a more mobile VR experience by building a computer that’s more easily carried. But there are still a lot of limitations to either of these solutions.

THE MOVR PROTOTYPE SIDESTEPS TETHERED VR ISSUES

Latency is the whole reason a wireless solution hasn’t worked so far. VR is especially latency-sensitive, along with the huge bandwidth requirements that VR needs to display the level of high-resolution video required for virtual reality to work. But the MIT team claims that the millimeter wave signals can transmit fast enough to make a wireless VR headset feasible.

The issue with using millimeter wave technology is that the signal needs a direct line of sight, and fares poorly when it encounters any obstacles. MoVR gets around this by working as a programmable mirror that can direct the direction of the signal to the headset even while it’s moving to always make sure the signal is transmitting directly to the headset’s receivers.

For now, the MoVR is simply a prototype, with the team hoping to further shrink down the system to allow for multiple wireless headsets in one room without encountering signal interference. But even as a proof-of-concept, it’s an interesting perspective on how virtual reality could one day work.

Virtual Reality Coming to Your In-Flight Entertainment?

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2016 was the year of the Virtual reality headset, we are seeing the first versions of a technology that can, and possibly will, change our lives, much like the smart phone has. VR has the potential to improve our Games, TV programmes and Movies and allow us to experience things and places better. This article is about how your in-flight might be improved by a VR headsets.

No one likes flying during the holidays. Between having to leave two hours ahead of time and getting through security, just getting to your flight feels like a trip in itself. And then you get on the plane and have nothing to do for three hours except watch reruns of Friends on the little TV in front of you.

That’s probably about to change, thanks to VR. For a little while, of course, passengers can plug into their own Samsung Gear VR sets and tune out, but airlines might be offering their own complimentary variety so you can forget you’re stuck on an airplane.

A French start-up, SkyLights, is developing the tech. It’s a headset with a six-hour battery life, and it comes with noise-cancelling headphones. The headset looks pretty sleek and simple, because they’re made to be: There’s none of the neater interactions you get with an Oculus or Samsung headset. It really is just a movie beamed right into your face. You’ll be able to watch the newest 2D and 3D movies, and the set comes with 128 GB of storage — about 40 movies. Weighing only slightly more than half a pound, it’s easy to visualize the headset propped on the back of the seat in front of you, and after paying the fee, you can flip it on and enjoy hi-def movies right in front of your face.

The headsets are being tested in France right now: XL Airways became the first headset to offer a commercial version of the headset to passengers last week, for $16 per flight. SkyLights has also partnered with AirFrance and Airbus. Content-wise, there are partnerships in the works with 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks.

The general lack of viable in-flight entertainment has been plaguing the airline industry for a while; broadband Internet is an extra cost (roughly $10 per flight, depending on your airline), and the movies and TV they show are typically outdated.

It wasn’t until recently that airlines began attempting to match the broadband speed you’d find on the ground. (As of last year, you’d get speeds of around 3.1Mbps, as opposed to the roughly 30Mbps that smartphones on the ground are capable of). Since so many people use their own devices for entertainment, airlines are in desperate need of upping their Wi-Fi speed. But they also need ways to entertain their customers in an inexpensive manner, without the heavy screens and cables that come with TVs. Virtual-reality headsets — light, not-too-costly, and wireless — could offer a way for airlines to draw their customer base back in. But there are challenges: VR headsets are a relatively new and untested technology.

“Airlines are difficult players to deal with because they are risk-averse and slow to innovate,” David Dicko, SkyLight’s CEO, told the Times.

One potential problem for in-flight VR in your face is the nausea it causes. VR (even if it’s just a film) can be very disorienting, and it’s not hard to imagine people getting sick from it on a moving plane. Oculus’ health and safety documentation is a laundry list of potential concerns, from warnings of dizziness and nausea to seizures and sweating.

Another potential issue could be that hundreds of folks tuned out to a VR movie with noise-cancelling headphones have, at the least, limited awareness of the outside world. That means slowness to react in plane emergencies — another potential lawsuit on an airline’s hands.

For now, we’re skeptical that VR headsets will take off as in-flight entertainment in the U.S. anytime soon. Early adopters might be eager to try them — but they also have their own headsets that they can use for free. Customers would have to pay over the price of a movie ticket, the technology is unstudied when it comes to users’ health, and everyone has their own phone or tablet to entertain themselves. We love the idea, but, as Dicko noted, the airlines are a pretty risk-averse industry. They should prioritize Wi-Fi bandwidth first (and make it at least cheaper), which is what the majority of customers undoubtedly want.

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine a more Black Mirror–esque image than a hundred people, arranged into rows, their heads leaning back, eyes hidden behind a headset, plugged in to a world that isn’t there.

London Gatwick Airport deploys new radio system from Motorola Solutions

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Back in the day, around 2006, the Heathrow and Gatwick radio systems were the envy of many, many businesses, a cutting-edge Motorola analogue trunking system with individual and group setup, that could broadcast messages out across the site or talk to individual radios, something that is taken for granted these days with our digital systems. The Gatwick system has been upgraded and been given the digital touch.

US-based Motorola Solutions, along with its authorised channel partner Servicom, has debuted its new digital mobile radio (DMR) system, Mototrbo Capacity Max, at London Gatwick Airport.

Designed to provide enhanced voice and data communications, the newly installed system connects 1,300 people in the airport’s airside and groundside teams.

Mototrbo Capacity Max will also double the capacity of Gatwick’s current analogue network.

Various applications, such as TRBOnet PLUS and iBeacon, were given along with Mototrbo Capacity Max to improve its data performance.

TRBOnet PLUS is a dispatcher application that allows voice recording, mapping and event logging in the control room, while the iBeacon indoor positioning application sends alerts to individual radios based on location.

Gatwick Airport IT project manager Simon Telling said: “We chose Motorola Solutions’ Mototrbo Capacity Max system not only for how resilient and secure it is, but because of the flexibility it offers us now and into the future.

“We have experienced significant growth over the past decade and we are now approaching the limits of our previous analogue system.

“Migrating to scalable, digital communications will double our capacity and bring new capabilities that will help us improve efficiency and safety for staff, retail partners and passengers across the airport.”

The new Motorola solution will also enable Gatwick’s central controllers to send off the closest employee to an incident, saving time.

The airport recorded more than 4.6 million in passenger traffic in July.

Source – http://www.airport-technology.com/news/newslondon-gatwick-airport-deploys-new-radio-system-from-motorola-solutions-5021249

Ericsson first to deliver 5G NR radio

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We are seeing a new era in communications at the moment, the move from tetra and RF to the mobile network. The uk’s emergency services will be moved over to EE’s ESN system slowly until 2020 using Motorola kit designed particularly for the technology. The natural evolution is 5G, which we won’t see for many years, but Ericsson have taken the baton and are running with it.

  • World’s first commercial 5G New Radio (NR) radio for massive MIMO and Multi-user MIMO coming in 2017
  • New additions to Ericsson Radio System address key requirements of 5G, in today’s networks
  • Pioneering Industrialized Network Rollout Services solution facilitates complete rollout from configuration to verification in a single visit

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) is commercializing the world’s first 5G NR radio for massive MIMO, with the first deployments coming in 2017. Together with the Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins announced in June and Ericsson’s already commercially available Radio System Baseband 5216, which currently powers Ericsson’s award-winning Radio Test Bed, Ericsson is first to deliver all components of a 5G access network.

Tom Keathley, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, AT&T, says: “As we accelerate toward 5G, it’s beneficial to have a flexible radio platform that can be deployed not only for LTE, but also versions of future 5G NR standards.”

AIR 6468 combines advanced antennas with a large number of steerable ports to enable 5G technologies of beamforming, Massive MIMO and — building on that — Multi-user MIMO, initialized as MU-MIMO. These capabilities improve user experience while enhancing the capacity and coverage of the network and reducing interference. The new radio provides LTE support as well, so it is applicable in today’s networks.

Huang Yuhong, Deputy Head, China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI), says: “Massive-MIMO, also known as 3D MIMO, is an important milestone in China Mobile’s technology roadmap from 4G to 5G. We are very happy that Ericsson’s new radio product is coming to market soon to meet our needs and enable us to integrate 5G technologies into our existing networks.”

A host of new additions to the Ericsson Radio System are also coming that address key 5G requirements, in today’s networks.

Daniel Staub, Head of Joint Mobile Group, Swisscom, says: “On the road to 5G, we will continue to invest in LTE advancements that will become part of our 5G networks. For us, it is key that Ericsson has chosen to focus on advances that will support us in this evolution. These enhancements will further improve the customer experience.”

Additional new Ericsson Radio System gear addresses 5G concepts

  • Three new radios support Gigabit speeds for LTE and provide further flexibility in design: Radio 4407 and Radio 4412 enable 4×4 MIMO in one radio unit for FDD and TDD mode respectively, and Radio 8808 for advanced TDD beamforming applications
  • Addressing both the need for unlicensed spectrum options and the growing emphasis on small cells is the Radio 2205, a micro solution on unlicensed spectrum that is fully integrated in Ericsson Radio System, using the same baseband and network management
  • Two new baseband units support the growing need for densification: the outdoor micro Baseband 6502 and macro Baseband 6303 with Ericsson Rail System mounting for flexible site builds
  • Addressing interference issues in dense builds, Baseband P614 enables new band activation on challenging sites by mitigating Passive Inter Modulation, referred to as PIM mitigation, from static and dynamic sources both inside and outside the antenna system
  • Spectrum optimization is a growing need and Uplink Spectrum Analyzer is an Ericsson-unique software solution to remotely identify external interference without the need for costly measurement equipment and site visits
  • Exclusive to Ericsson is instant power sharing, used in the wideband Radio 2242. This capability allows power to be instantly shared between carriers, standards and bands, optimizing the use of radio resources
  • Cloud RAN will be an important 5G network architecture and Baseband C608 provides high-performance switching in Elastic RAN deployments

Peter Jarich, Vice President, Consumer and Infrastructure Services, Current Analysis, says: “Mobile operators, today, are clearly focused on the race to 5G commercialization, while also continuing to invest in their existing LTE networks. With a new 5G radio and LTE offerings which echo key 5G concepts – small cells, licensed-unlicensed band combinations, Cloud RAN, network densification, spectrum optimization – Ericsson’s new portfolio additions and Ericsson Radio System innovations provide a compelling way forward.”

To support new network builds, Ericsson has created the industry’s first Industrialized Network Rollout Services solution. The Network Deployment Delivery Platform coupled with Ericsson’s pioneering process facilitates the complete configuration, installation, integration, shakedown and handover of a fully verified site, ready in a single site visit.

Arun Bansal, Head of Business Unit Network Products, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson has driven innovation in every generation of mobile technology and now we are set to over-deliver on an aggressive promise. We are introducing the new hardware that 5G Plug-Ins, announced in June, will run on, so that the first operators can start to deploy 5G infrastructure.  And, we are also launching innovations that improve both the performance and efficiency of today’s networks using concepts that will evolve into 5G.”

We found this news story on the Communication news website

Motorola Solutions’ digital two-way radio technology enhances mission-critical communications at Munich airport

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Motorola solutions are a company well known for their robust two way radios and for building world class communication structures. Improving on the current TETRA system with an IP dispatch console and piloting the WAVE system, that allows a phone app to connect to the radio system, for communicating of site. You can read more about what Motorola are doing for Munich below and you can find the original article here.

Motorola Solutions has received an order to implement a comprehensive update and extension of its existing TETRA digital two-way radio system at Munich Airport.

The newly modernized communications infrastructure ensures greater connectivity, interoperability and collaboration between various business and operational functions at Germany’s second largest airport. Motorola Solutions will also provide services for ensuring smooth operations.

Within the framework of the TETRA radio network refresh, Motorola Solutions is equipping the airport with a new MCC 7500 IP Dispatch Console. The comprehensive, scalable solution enhances the IP architecture to ensure optimum call set up and availability. It will also allow Munich Airport to expand its communications infrastructure in the future without interrupting existing services. As well as this, Motorola Solutions will implement two TETRA base stations for improved TETRA radio coverage in the terminal buildings.

Alongside the improvements to the TETRA system, the airport has started a pilot project for the potential introduction of Motorola Solutions’ broadband push-to-talk (PTT) platform WAVE. The goal of the installation is to ensure that airport staff can communicate, no matter which device or infrastructure is being used. The powerful PTT solution WAVE™ Work Group Communications provides airport authorities with secure and reliable communications beyond TETRA radio – including broadband devices and networks – to enable greater workforce connectivity, interoperability and collaboration. WAVE connects the TETRA system used by administrative staff with service management employees who join the broadband platform via smartphones, computers, other radios or telephones, meaning that staff across the airport can communicate with one another from virtually any location.

“We have been working with Motorola Solutions’ TETRA two-way digital radio system since 2007,” said Michael Zaddach, head of the IT service division at Flughafen München GmbH. “The update of our TETRA infrastructure enables us to further improve our communications in airport operations and make our processes even more efficient.”

“We are collaborating closely with Munich Airport to provide a future-proof TETRA digital two-way radio network,” said Klaus-Dieter Drossel, sales director for key accounts, Motorola Solutions Germany GmbH. “We are also pleased that Munich Airport is testing our broadband push-to-talk platform WAVE, and we are certain that it will enable airport staff to work together more closely, no matter which device or network they use.”

Far offshore windfarms present communications challenges

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This is an interesting article debating the different types of communication that can be used over a long distance, and as they distance moves further and further, the different types of communication drop off or become part of an infrastructure. As engineers battle with this problem, knowledge of how radio frequencies and applications becomes paramount.

As offshore windfarms are built further and further from land, alternatives to conventional VHF communications are going to be required

A cornerstone of any major project is clear communication between all parties. As we move windfarm construction further offshore, maintaining efficient voice and data communications becomes essential. With many projects now being constructed beyond the range of VHF radio and cellular telephone, such as a Gemini or Dudgeon offshore windfarms, crew transfer vessel (CTV) operators and their clients are experiencing challenges achieving practical and affordable offshore communications. My experience on two far offshore projects in the last 15 months has shown that creative thinking can work together with existing equipment such as TETRA radio to reduce the risks and stress that poor communications can generate.

Communication solutions on offshore windfarms depend on the phase that the operation is in, the size of the project and the distance from shore. Many smaller, older windfarms rely on VHF radios to communicate between shore and vessel and shore/vessel and work team on the turbines. However, VHF is limited in range being a line-of-sight system, and the signal has trouble penetrating structures such as wind turbines due to the Faraday cage effect. Conventional cellular telephone coverage is also possible on nearshore sites, with some windfarms installing a cellular mast within the windfarm. Vessels at anchor off the Dutch port of IJmuiden can thank the windfarm industry for good connection when waiting for a pilot if they have contracts with the provider KPN.

When moving further offshore, luxuries such as a cellular mast will not be installed during the construction phase, and it is most likely that VHF radios will not be sufficient. It is common for the developer to install a TETRA radio network – similar to those used by national emergency response services such as police and fire departments.

TETRA, or terrestrial trunked radio as it is properly termed, is a secure network allowing one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications. This means that the marine controller can speak directly and privately to one party or to the entire offshore spread depending on what is needed. It transmits on a lower frequency than VHF so covers a greater range. This still is not enough to cover the distances experienced on far offshore windfarms. If multiple base stations are used, each base station can then automatically rebroadcast a message thus expanding the network coverage. On a recent construction project, it was found that there were communications blackspots in the area of the sea passage from the base port to the site. This was later eliminated by fitting full base station units rather than just handheld transceivers on the CTVs. The CTVs then became vital links in the communications network and ensured the blackspots were reduced or eliminated altogether.

TETRA has many other advantages, including the ability to penetrate the tower of a wind turbine, and calls are not dropped when moving between base station carriers due to the network configuration. This is especially important if vessel-carried base stations are relaying far offshore. The network is also secure, which ensures that commercially sensitive information cannot be intercepted. With the one-to-one mode, it also means that managers can have detailed conversations on sensitive subjects.

However, anecdotal information received from vessel crews in the field appear to indicate that TETRA, although a good system, is not foolproof. One vessel master reported that, after 15 months on site, they still had blackspots with TETRA and sometimes have to use the cell phone application WhatsApp to request that turbines be started or stopped so that he can land a team.

TETRA does not solve the operational problems experienced by vessel-operating companies who require frequent voice and data communication with the CTVs to ensure a smooth delivery of service. As most sites far offshore are outside of cell phone coverage and clients demand that daily reports are issued on time, creativity is needed. There is a simple solution that could solve all of the communication problems far offshore – installing VSAT satellite communications on each CTV, which allows instant telephone and data transfer.

However, the practicalities of chartering in today’s windfarm industry eliminates this option, as the client will not want to pay for installation and operation, and a vessel owner cannot afford such a luxury. Charterers therefore need to make a decision: either they assume responsibility and the costs for practical workable satellite communications on their vessels or look for practical alternative solutions to deliver what is needed far offshore.

One practical solution to maintain communications between the marine co-ordination centre and vessels is to step back a generation and use medium frequency/high frequency single side band radios, which are common equipment on larger CTVs and is standard on service operation vessels (SOVs) or installation vessels.

When used in conjunction with the digital selective calling (DSC) function of the GMDSS standard, voice communications can be maintained at long distance without operating cost. Unfortunately, current guidance for the marine co-ordination in windfarms as found in the G9 Good practice guideline: The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry does not yet consider marine co-ordination and communications in far offshore windfarms.

Another practical solution to improve data communication is to install powerful WiFi antennas on the decks of SOVs and other major offshore assets to allow CTVs to have internet access when they are in close proximity. CTVs can then download passenger manifests and weather reports and upload the daily progress report and synchronise planned maintenance and email systems.

CTVs spend considerable time in close proximity to the SOV during passenger transfer, bunkering or waiting for the next assignment, and it is relatively easy to set up the computers to connect and synchronise without operator input, thus reducing the risk of distraction. SOVs should be designed with space for CTV crews to use as a secure office so that laptops can be left connected to the network. In this way, crews can have two computers and prepare work when on shift, transfer via a data stick and upload when they go off shift.

One of the most effective tools that we have identified is WhatsApp, which seems to require very low signal strength to connect and transfer brief messages. On recent projects, we have found that most vessel/office communication occurs in this medium, including fault finding and incident reporting and investigation. Crews have found it quicker to video a CCTV system playback and send via WhatsApp than download the CCTV video and send it via a file transfer service. As synchronising an electronic planned maintenance system offshore is very time consuming, our superintendents have taken to sending the worklists via WhatsApp to the vessels who then confirm back with text or images when a job is complete. The superintendent then does the PMS administration from their office with the advantage of high speed network connections. Experience with WhatsApp has led me to believe that agile, low data applications will form part of the future of offshore communication.

Far offshore projects have moved from planning and dreaming to reality. However, effective and cost-efficient communication solutions have not moved with them. Like most challenges with far offshore windfarms, there is no single solution, but experience has shown that, with creativity and flexibility, projects can communicate with their teams and operators can manage their vessels.

Better equipment earlier on in the construction phase, such as MF/HF radios in the MCC and on the vessels, TERA base stations on the vessels and open deck WiFi on construction assets will all assist in improving safety and reducing stress while ensuring that unnecessary costs are not incurred.

Motorola Solutions CTO: Public Safety Will Be Transformed By Data-Driven Communications Read more at http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/networks/broadband/motorola-solutions-public-safety-data-197830#WCOWXTjdibreBRqI.99

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The good old walkie talkie will still have a place in most businesses, but Motorola being a technology company they are always innovating, they are underpinning their future communications on data, currently date networks cannot cope with this but as the technology grows, Motorola will be able to produce handsets, motorola accessories and communications that will seamlessly use this without any problem, we look forward to the future. 

Motorola Solutions CTO Paul Steinberg explains how data and enhanced communications can make cities safer – even if they’re not smart just yet

As CTO of Motorola Solutions (MSI), Paul Steinberg says he has three broad remits.

paul-steinberg-motorolaThe first is to advance the company’s technology with his team of engineers and data scientists, the second is to drive its patent strategy (“What patents we get and what we do with them”) and the third is to invest in startups so MSI can get access to something it doesn’t have.

“It keeps you humble because there’s always someone else doing things faster and better than you,” he tells TechWeekEurope.

Public safety

Motorola Solutions now only deals with public safety communications systems. It was spun off from the Motorola Mobility handset business that was sold to Google (and later Lenovo) in 2011 and sold its handheld computing division to Zebra Technologies in 2014.

This might seem like a very narrow focus but it’s a market in which the present day Motorola senses a great opportunity as emergency services update their infrastructure to improve service and cut cost.

In the UK, MSI is working with EE to help deliver the £1 billion Emergency Services Network (ESN) – a 4G platform that will allow for data-enabled services alongside critical communications – and save the government £1 million a day

These upgrades will power what MSI sees as the big trend in public safety: the coupling of communications with data analytics, a vision it recently outlined at Critical Communications World (CCW) in Amsterdam.

“[Mission critical communications are] every bit as important as they have been and we expect [them] to be tomorrow,” explains Steinberg.

“Mission critical intelligence brings in connecting things – data. It becomes more about context and situational awareness. The investments we’re making are more in that direction.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is the connected first responder. What we did was we built a context engine that’s at the heart.”EE 4G (3)

Context engine

The ‘context engine’ built by MSI brings together various different inputs. For example, Bluetooth connectivity can unite weapons, body sensors and imaging equipment to give a police force a greater overview of a situation.

Steinberg explains a scenario where if the context engine detects a weapon has been fired and a policeman is not at a station or at a firing range, their video camera will automatically switch on. Other situations could give a paramedic of firefighter additional information, possibly through wearable technology.

“Why did we do the Context engine? ‘Eyes open, hands free’: keep focussed on what you’re doing and keep your hands available to do what you need to do,” said Steinberg.

“We envisage this working as an ecosystem with well-designed interfaces around the core context engine. We see ecosystem partners offering applications and hardware. And some pieces of those we will offer as Motorola. We see it increasingly as a software problem.”

Connected platform

image: http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Motorola-Solutions-public-safety-3-1024×768.jpg

Steinberg favours acquisitions as a way of advancing his goals and MSI has venture capital operations to fund the third part of his remit. MSI monitors the development of numerous early stage companies with a view to boosting its own business.

Motorola Solutions public safety (3)“[Takeovers] give us technology or a skillset that we can’t do properly [ourselves],” he explains. “If the concept looks like it has legs, that’s when we make the decision. In some cases we don’t proceed.”

Sometimes the target is more established. MSI has bought Airwave for £817 million, a move which it is believed will help accelerate the transition to next generation systems. Airwave currently powers the pre-ESN communications capability of the UK emergency services and Steinberg sees the acquisition as a method to migrate customers rather than innovate.

“It brings us another data point but it doesn’t really change how my team works,” he says. “It’s a company that helps us ensure we have an orderly migration.”

Smart cities and smart vehicles

MSI says the Context Engine and its vision of data-supported communications will be strengthened by the parallel development of smart cities; even if it’s too early to have any impact right now. Steinberg describes ‘shotspotter’ technology capable of detecting when and where a gunshot is fired, aiding emergency services, and believes smart cars will also play a role.

“I think as the city becomes smarter, we can benefit from the environment,” he predicts. “We can fuse that together and help facilitate real time decision making. The next mobile platform is the vehicle. I think that will create some interesting opportunities for us.”

But the very nature of emergency services means technological jumps are not to be taken lightly. A technical hiccup can mean the matter between life and death and although political reasons might have delayed the transition to LTE, concerns about reliability will have played a role too.

Steinberg agrees and is adamant that no matter what advances are made, MSI will not jeopardise the basics.

“The foundation of our business is communications and it always will be,” he states. “Making sure our platform is resilient, usable and mission critical in harsh environments while layering on this intelligence.”

Read more at http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/networks/broadband/motorola-solutions-public-safety-data-197830/2

Imtradex Aurelis Handheld Microphones Future Proof to fit all Purposes

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We call these Remote Speaker Mics (RSM) and they have come in all different shapes and sizes over the years. Normally a staple of the emergency services, but we have seen a upsurge in general radio users using RSM’s. So it comes as no shock to us that a pro-active company like Imtradex has designed one to suit the needs of the masses.

What was originally developed as a handheld microphone for digital radios, has blossomed over the past few years to an essential equipment accessory for digital radio standards of emergency service: The Aurelis hand microphone from Imtradex.

Meanwhile with the Aurelis, the specialist for critical communications, have a whole series of hand microphones on the market, all adapted to the specific challenges of the communication in critical applications of security agencies, fire departments, dispatch and emergency services. The Aurelis series addresses the different needs of the user: based of the basic model Aurelis Base, Imtradex manufacture customized versions that are specially tailored to the range of functions that meet the customer’s requirements.

All the Aurelis hand microphones have a send button, a microphone and high quality speakers. “All devices contain a cable attachment and also the possibility to connect external audio accessories” adds Ralf Kudernak, CEO of Imtradex. Depending on the radio, different data applications can be integrated, so can ex. on the model Aurelis AudioDis, information be displayed on the LCD display.

“The youngest member of the family is the Aurelis USB handheld microphone, which is designed for connection to computer-based communication system, especially for control centers” informed Ralf Kudernak. “The USB interface gives the easy integration and can be connected independently to each operation system and used with existing hardware. With the development of the Aurelis USB, we followed the desire of several control centers, which wanted to use a handheld microphone which you can also hang at the table of the workplace” said Kudernak.

In terms of digital communication, security and flexibility the innovative ultra-lightweight Aurelis Nexus PTT set new standards. It was specially designed for fire fighting. Thanks to it extra large PTT, with short sensing path and exactly defined pressure point, the operation with use of working gloves is possible.

The user can also be flexible in their choice of radio and headset: All Aurelis handheld microphones can be combined, not only with many headsets, for example with the monaural neckband headset from the NB Series. They are convenient and safe to wear, provide a maximum safe mobility and provide an excellent voice quality. Imtradex can also build them with the different connectors required, so they can easily be connected to different digital radios. All Aurelis handheld microphones have a robust plastic housing. Is splash-proofed and protects the device against dust and against temperature influences, so they can be reliably used in a temperature range from -30 to + 70 degrees Celsius. The 180 gram lightweight Aurelis handheld microphones are also available in different colours and optionally equipped with a car holder or cloth clip.

– See more at: http://www.tetra-applications.com/33213/

Hytera launches new DMR handheld radio

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Hytera have a wide range of radios in their catalogue now, and this is a new addition. The PD98X is for the professional communicator, a radio that has more added extras than a lot of smart phones. A couple of questions we would like to ask are:

What will the price be?

Can I use my current Hytera earpiece with this radio?

And when will this be available?

But this does seem to be a nice addition to the Hytera range and we can’t wait to try it out.

Hytera, a leading solution provider of professional mobile radio communications, has launched its latest digital mobile radio (DMR) handheld PD98X, adding another strong member to its top-notch DMR portfolio.

PD98X offers an exceptional audio experience through noise cancellation technology, while boasting new features including full duplex calls, recording capability via Micro SD, Bluetooth 4.0 for audio or data and single frequency repeater mode to increase coverage, said a statement from the company.

GS Kok, senior vice president of Hytera, said: “We are proud to announce the launch of PD98X.”

“A series of cutting-edge innovations and designs have been added into this new model to make it a full-featured radio to satisfy customers’ increasing demand for functionality and user experience,” he said.

The addition of the PD985 positions Hytera with the most complete DMR radio portfolio to meet diversified requirements, from simple, reliable and cost-effective handsets (PD3 and PD4 series) to rugged and feature-rich solutions (PD5 and PD6 series), up to the high-end, professional system radios (PD7, PD9 and X1 series), it said.

The key advanced features of PD98X include:

•Full Duplex Call

PD98X enables frontline personnel to make telephony calls between other PD98X and telephones or mobile phones.

•Single Frequency Repeater Mode

Based on interference cancellation technology, PD98X is able to use one slot to receive a signal and another to transmit it in the same frequency using DMO mode to extend the communication distance.

•Built-in Bluetooth 4.0

With integrated Bluetooth 4.0, PD98X supports both audio transmit and programming via Bluetooth.

•Noise Cancellation and 2.5W Audio Output

Maximum 2.5W output speaker and new noise cancelling technology ensure clear and loud voice communication.

•IP68 Protection

PD98X complies with the highest dust and waterproof standards, to confront the harshest environments. The radio continues to function after submersion down to 2 meters for up to four hours.

•Smart Battery

This feature makes it easier to monitor the battery status, such as battery life time and charging time, reducing charging time dramatically.

•Audio Recording via Micro SD Card

PD98X supports up to a 32GB Micro SD card, to record up to 576 hours digital/analog audio.

The whole portfolio offers display and non-display, GPS and non-GPS, UHF and VHF versions, allowing customers to select the best handset for their daily operation and mission-critical scenarios,

Source – http://www.tradearabia.com/news/IND_312771.html