Providing a dedicated fast broadband solution to the PPDR community is a tricky task in Europe thanks to the lack of spectrum and the difficulty of persuading all the stakeholders to agree a roadmap for its delivery across the EU. However, Solaris Mobile believes it has a ready-made solution to the problem in the shape of a combined satellite and terrestrial offering targeting the PPDR community among others.
In 2009, the EC allocated 2 x 30MHz of S-Band spectrum (2GHz) for Mobile Satellite Services (MSS). Solaris Mobile was awarded 2 x 15MHz of the S-Band which sits immediately adjacent to European mobile operators’ UMTS 3G band (2.1GHz). Solaris Mobile uses the Eutelsat 10A satellite situated at 10 degrees east over Europe to provide communications services across all of Europe. The current satellite can be configured to provide data-cast or 2-way services and Solaris Mobile is considering options for additional satellite capability to provide greater capacity and performance.
Matt Child, Chief Executive of Solaris Mobile, says: ‘Satellites provide a wide variety of services including voice, data M2M and video & audio streaming. The benefit of satellite is that it can reach a wide geographic area rapidly, reaching remote areas where terrestrial networks can’t. Furthermore, the service is available once the satellite is launched and in orbit. It is a hugely effective way of delivering the same information to millions of people. A combination of wide area satellite coverage and local area terrestrial mobile networks creates a highly efficient and cost effective system which is also rapid to deploy on a city by city basis.’
An added advantage is that the satellite is also good for airborne and nautical communications, so where terrestrial coverage runs out at the coast, the emergency services can still communicate at sea and in the air.
Uniquely, S-Band also provides the opportunity for a harmonised system for PPDR organisations right across the EU, marrying airborne, nautical and terrestrial services together. This offers obvious economies of scale and the ability to move across frontiers for better cross border co-operation between national police forces, for example.
On the terrestrial side, the S-Band 2GHz spectrum sits right next to UMTS and Child says there is a process underway within 3GPP to consider S-Band as a global extension to UMTS. This will provide additional benefits, as users will be able to take advantage of the global development of the technology already available in that band.
The concept is that the 3G public safety network would piggyback on the main consumer mobile network infrastructure, but it will be completely independent in terms of the operation and management. The management of data and traffic can all be done independently or it could be managed by the network operator.
‘The way we see satellite and terrestrial working is that satellite provides large area coverage very rapidly and is great for downloading and broadcasting data to the masses and the terrestrial S- band 3G network provides an on-demand singular path of data for high capacity use. They do use different technologies, but can operate simultaneously. So, if the police are receiving a data-cast package, they will also be able to use the device for normal communications at the same time. We expect to see more of this not just in Europe, but elsewhere. There is already a lot of activity in the US and Far East,’ says Child.
It does, however, mean that new devices will need to be developed, but as Child observes, the S-Band’s close proximity to UMTS means it does not take a great deal to develop the technology. [A number of chip manufacturers have already included the S-Band in their latest multi-mode chips, which need to support other bands such as 2.6GHz transmissions.]
‘We understand what the public sector and emergency services are looking for to evolve to fast broadband services. We have a part of what is required to do that and I think we will see the hybrid satellite and terrestrial network solution coming together at the terminal or vehicle level,’ says Child.
Value added services for the public safety sector
• Data gathering from vehicles (traffic, weather, pollution)
• Support and monitoring of rescue operations in isolated regions and under extreme conditions
• Standalone solutions in the event of immobilisation of terrestrial networks
• Remote machine-to-machine communications
• High capacity networks available for day-to day operations