ROGER ROSENBLATT: I don’t know much about public policy as a study or activity. I just always assumed that it had something to do with the public…
One week after the devastating storm, the death toll in the Gulf region remains elusive. One grim estimate comes from New Orleans’ mayor, who warns that 10,000 people may have died.
| “I hold her hand as tight as I could. And she told me, you can’t hold me. She said take care of the kids and the grandkids.”
– New Orleans survivor, Hardy Jackson
The city’s electricity is still out. Flooding and safety concerns kept the utility company Entergy from checking the condition of its power grid in New Orleans until Sunday. Entergy restored service to some 14,000 people in Mississippi on Sunday, but over 62,000 Mississippi residents still had no electricity on Sunday evening.
Cingular, Sprint and Verizon have current cellular restoration news. Boing Boing, e-Week, Government Technology, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Washington Technology and Wired cover Fubar from the beltway gang and Billion Dollar Contract Opportunities.
Satellite communications generally provide the first telecommunications links after a disaster since they don’t rely on terrestrial infrastructure. But satellite phones are slow and costly. Large satellite uplinks, provided by television stations, telcos and the military, provide faster uplinks but suffer from latency and power requirements.
Fixed wireless backbones are another option. They can link to operational fiber hubs, some 1-50 miles away, and may provide hundreds of megabits/second relatively cheaply. Satellite backbones can’t supply that speed.
Fixed WiMax (802.16-2004), standardized last year, is currently being tested for interoperability between vendors. Not a moment too soon, it appears. Mobile WiMax gear, not even standardized yet, could be pressed into service even though it’s not really ready.
The New Orlean’s police department’s citywide 800 MHz radio system went down as power was disrupted. Transmitter sites for the police radio system “are also underwater with the rising water and [are] now disabled,” according to reports.
Here’s a rundown of some fixed (802.16-2004) and (pre-mobile) gear from a variety of vendors:
- Intel shipped WiMax equipment Thursday to San Antonio’s decommissioned Kelly Air Force Base where thousands of evacuees are being taken. The gear, which will be used for backhaul, is expected to arrive on Friday. They are also deploying an initial 50 Tropos mesh radios to the airport to aid FEMA efforts, reports Nigel Ballard. Intel is coordinating the donation of 1,500 laptops to the American Red Cross for distribution to shelters.
- Part 15, a group of wireless Internet providers, is working with the Federal authorities to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots at the shelter and areas hit by the storm. They may also use technology developed at the Champaign-Urbana Wireless Network (CUWiN).
- Startup Adaptix is said to be one of the first to offer Mobile WiMax-like Basestations (pdf) and terminals (pdf), using the 1.8Ghz, 1.9Ghz, 2.3Ghz and 2.5Ghz band.
- Airspan has a pre-WiMax, multipoint AS.MAX line that includes a HiperMAX Base Station, optimised to support 802.16e. Their clients include EasyST (with built-in WiFi) and ProST (an outdoor router). Airspan’s dedicated backhaul line includes their AS3030, capable of supporting up to 72Mbps using a 20MHz channel in the unlicensed 5.8 GHz band, with a range in excess of 10km (NLOS) and 80km (LOS).
- Alvarion gear includes multipoint BreezeMax line as well as backhaul using their BreezeACCESS VL (5GHz) and BreezeACCESS XL (2.6, 3.5, and 3.8 Ghz)
- Aperto Networks offers multipoint Packet Max as well as backhaul gear in their Packet Wave wireless bridges. They provide links between locations up to 62 miles (100 km) apart, with interference resilience and efficient spectrum usage. PacketWave wireless bridges deliver 20 non-overlapping 6 MHz channels in the 5.8 GHz ISM band.
- Cambridge Broadband offers a multipoint solution. Their VectaStar line operates between 3.4GHz and 3.8GHz, 50MHz or 100MHz full duplex, and configurable channel bandwidths of 1.75MHz, 3.5MHz, 7MHz, and 14MHz.
- Navini offers the multipoint Ripwave Base Station and Ripwave clients which include a Ripwave-MX dual-mode CPE, which starts shipping in Q4 2005. The Navini solution is said to deliver on the vision of 802.16e, today.
- Proxim/Terabeam (Proxim recently merged with Terabeam), includes multipoint and p-t-p, 4.9 GHz (public safety) and 5.8 GHz (unlicensed) Terastar line. It can connect up to 64 remote locations. Their TeraMax line connects buildings across the street or across a city, at distances of up to 30 miles or more. Their p-t-p line includes Gigalink (60 Ghz) and TeraOptic (laser) bridges.
- Trango Broadband has a tri-band (5250-5875 MHz) point-to-point OFDM Wireless Ethernet Bridge capable of sustained throughput of 45 Mbps. Their point-to-multipoint gear currently serves thousands of subscribers across the country.
- NextNet Wireless, the supplier of gear for Clearwire, has NLOS Indoor, Outdoor and Mobile Subscriber Units (above). The mobile client (pdf) runs on 12 volts at 2300-2500, 2496-2690, 3300-3400, and 3400-3600 GHz. It eliminates the need to purchase special proprietary solutions to run on a mobile data platform.
- The National Instructional Fixed System (ITFS), uses the 2.5 GHz band and links schools with broadband wireless. Their members might be utilized.
ComVu’s live video broadcasting solution has been optimized to run on ordinary PocketPCs and enables live Webcasting from the palm of your hand. An ordinary, $400 Pocket PC with a camera can do live teleconferencing from the field and can store video interviews on the device.
That’s what you need, isn’t it? Why pay some contractor like Lockheed or Grumman $20,000 for a teleconferencing system that nobody uses and nobody can afford? How does that help? Tell me.
- Redline offers pre-WiMax for backhaul and public access in the licensed 3.5 GHz band, and the unlicensed 5.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands. Their RedMax family includes the the RedMAX Base Station (AN-100U) and RedMax client. Both the indoor and outdoor clients feature Intel’s WiMax chips. The AN-100U can also be deployed as backhaul for WiFi or cellular/mobile communications applications and carry multiple E1/T1 circuits, IP data and management traffic.
- SR Telecom’s Symmetry line is said to deliver carrier-class TDM voice and broadband data (including VoIP). It adds key features that are optional in the WiMAX standard (including antenna diversity, Space-time Coding, Hybrid ARQ, and Sub-channelling). It includes both both basestations and clients.
- Wi-LAN offers a broadband wireless line that include the LIBRA 5800 a WiMax-like backhaul in the 5.8n GHz band, Libra MX, an enterprise backhaul, and Ultima 3 with wider bandwidth options.
Fixed Wireless Backbones, using 802.16-2004 or proprietary systems using frequencies above 10 GHz with more than one gigahertz of bandwidth, may also be drafted. They can provide wireless bridges to working fiber hubs several miles away.
- Proxim/Terabeam’s Tsunami wireless Gigabit Ethernet bridge claims to be the world’s first to provide wireless gigabit point-to-point connectivity while preserving native IP. It uses two, 100 Mhz chunks in the 5Ghz band; one centered around 5.3 GHz and one around 5.8GHz.
- The licensed LMDS band (between 28 Ghz – 31 Ghz) is used for XO’s Fixed Wireless backbones for burstable bandwidth from one Mbps up to 20-plus Mbps. They offer full T-1 of digital trunks with gear from DragonWave.
- Towerstream uses LMDS for backboning their pre-WiMax gear.
- Unlicensed 60 GHz Radios from Terabeam can go a mile or so. 60 GHz Radios are used by Gigabeam in Ireland.
- GigaBeam has 1 Gbps wireless backhaul gear in the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz radio spectrum for point-to-point wireless. 10 Gig Wireless is even anticipated.
- UCSD’s High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) team has a solid track record of emergency wireless deployments using innovative WiFi approaches with licensed or unlicensed backhaul.
- Calit2 developed the the Entr e Wireless box which combines a Wifi access point with a cellular backbone. It became a model for others. Calit2 has teamed up with Qualcomm and satellite backhaul provider ViaSat — both San Diego-based firms — to re-link storm-affected areas and speed the process of getting medical aid to the region.
- Calit2 is also developing the Wireless Internet Information System for Medical Response in Disasters (WIISARD), with 5 interlocking software/hardware systems linked by a location-aware system. It uses Mesh networked WiFi components, designed to be fault tolerant and to intelligently deal with variations in quality of service.
- WiFi access points with integrated EV-DO backbones include the Entree Box, the StompBox, Junxion Box, Omniway, Possio PX40 Wireless Router, Kyocera’s KR1 EVDO/WiFi Router, D-Link’s EV-DO access point, and NETGEAR’s hotspot with Flarion backhaul. In a year or so, Mobile WiMax cards should be able to supply backbone connectivity for these access points to provide mobile WiFi access.
- Other point to point wireless links with a range of 1-8 miles or so include; Solectek SkyWay 7000 (unlicensed 5.8 GHz, up to 108 Mbps), DragonWave AirPair (24 GHz license-exempt, up to 200 Mbps), First Avenue Networks (24/39 GHz licensed spectrum, up to 622 Mbps), BridgeWave FE60 (60 GHz license-exempt, 100 Mbps), and fSONA SONAbeam (Free Space Optical, up to Gigabit Ethernet).
- US Wireless Online and Air2LAN, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, operates wireless ISPs in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.
Satellite communications is sometimes the only option and satellite phones like Globalstar and Iridium are an obvious choice. While satellite phones are good for voice, they can’t send data much faster than 2.4-9Kbps. For data communications, mobile terminals with flat panels or dishes are used. Television and the military use large trucks with 6 foot or larger dishes for highspeed uplinks. But smaller dishes are becoming more cost/effective and mobile, especially when using higher power, spot beam satellites.
Each community on the West Coast of the United States, it seems to me, ought to have emergency broadband wireless. For the people.
Normally, these tower might use the local Telco for backhaul (with a wireless link), and provide links to 2-3 remote wireless towers (or Wireless Kiosks), for “wireless cloud” service.
A dozen access points with built-in wireless backhaul, like those available from D-Link and NETGEAR, could provide mobile voice, data and video services for police and fire. Perhaps a budget anywhere from $50,000-$350,000 would cover the hardware and software.
Don’t wait for FEMA. Just do it.
Alvarion’s BreezeMax line is shipping WiMax-ready clients while Airspan’s EasyST client includes a WiMax backbone with built-in WiFi for local access. D-Link’s EV-DO access point and NETGEAR’s hotspot with Flarion backhaul are ready to go.
Wireless Kiosks might even make money. The communications tower might routinely feed 3-4 outdoor, advertiser-sponsored, Community Kiosks/Access Points. The Kiosks could use a removable touchscreen tablet PC and house Tsunami alert info with a netcam. A couple of old 12 volt truck batteries could run it for a week in case of emergency. Here’s how to build a solar-powered access point.
LinksysInfo.org reviews ALL the latest (free) firmware software for creating automatic, redirect “splash” pages on ordinary, $60 Linksys access points. Turning hopeless victims into smart mobs is the goal of empowerment software like JotSpot and Wiki software.
Sputnik might manage hundreds of $60 Linksys Hotspots and update new splash pages on all of them in minutes. Try that with your fancy $2000 Project 25 radios or $20,000 frequency jumper.
YOUR life, YOUR business and YOUR community are on the line.
The Public Telecommunications Facilities Program gives away lots of money. It seems as though the money is rarely spent on public telecommunications. It’s insular. Agencies talk amongst themselve and call that good. It’s not.
Here are some mobile satellite terminals that are sometimes used by consumers or small businesses:
- Orbcomm offers store and forward messaging, but with a high latency (up to whole minutes) as users sometimes have to wait for a satellite to come into range. The portable Magellan GSC 100 features built-in GPS and messaging. It allows users to communicate from anywhere on Earth via e-mail using a relatively inexpensive radio about the size of a walkie talkie.
- Thrane & Thrane and Nera make portable satellite terminals using Inmarsat. They’re available at the SatphoneStore and other places. The Norsat GLOBETrekker, unveiled at the IBC 2005 this month, is a backpackable, broadband satellite system with a 1m carbon fiber antenna, RF electronics, and motorized azimuth/elevation.
- The Nera WorldPro 1000 terminal (right) will enable customers to connect to Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service at speeds of up to 384 kbps from 85 percent of the world’s land mass. The service is scheduled for availability from the fourth quarter of 2005 and will enable users to access both voice and data simultaneously.
- Inmarsat offered free use of its mini-M services, from Sunday, September 4, until Sunday, September 11 in the disaster zone. Inmarsat’s Global Area Network (GAN) Mobile ISDN services is mainly used for video-conferencing services.
- Consumer oriented WildBlue has the edge in pricing and modem speeds. WildBlue costs as low as $49.95 a month. It uses Canada’s Anik F2 with 30 Ka-band circular spotbeams licensed to Wildblue Communications. Consumer-oriented 2-way satellite services using the Ku band include Direcway, which recently announced performance upgrades, and Starband. They start at $59.99 a month and go up, typically around $80-$150/month.
- ViaSat has a full line of VSAT products for data and voice, and is a market leader in Ka-band satellite systems. They provide Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management with service at 137 locations. ViaSat has locations in Carlsbad, CA, and Norcross, GA, along with its Comsat Laboratories division in Clarksburg, MD.
- Spacenet is helping with Katrina recovery efforts. Their V-Sat platforms like the Connexstar VSAT provide support for virtually any broadband data, voice or video application. Spacenet’s ConnectStar provides higher speed access, compared to Echostar’s Starband.
- Gilat’s frequency and time division multiplexing access (FTDMA) scheme makes bandwidth more readily available throughout the network. Gilat’s VSAT Products include a new VSAT standard, DVB-RCS.
- The DVB-RCS standard (Digital Video Broadcast – Return Channel by Satellite), along with DOCSIS over satellite (used by WildBlue), and the emerging Internet Protocol over Satellite (IPoS) standard used by Hughes on the DW7000 platform, are vying for the title of leader for a standardized, 2-way satellite platform. Many believe a transmission standard for 2-way satellite terminals will lower VSAT terminal costs.
- DVB-S2 is a newer specification of the DVB-S (Digital Video Broadcasting) standard, ratified by ETSI in March 2005. Designers claim that DVB-S2 performance gains are 30% over DVB-S. Unlike DVB-S, it does not rely on MPEG-2 encoding alone, but allows more advanced encoding, like H.264 (a.k.a. MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC) or VC-1. It’s used for satellite broadcasting. A European consortium led by Nera plans to develop a DVB-S2 modem which may be used in DVB-RCS (upstream) networks, which proponents say will make DVB-RCS systems significantly more powerful for transferring IP traffic. No product yet exists, however.
- World Communication Center and Strix Systems use an attached mobile VSAT station on a trailer. A self-configuring and self-healing mesh network combined with with a portable VSAT satellite terminal creates a more flexible mobile satellite installation. Lafayette-based SOLA Communications specializes in quick, deployable VSATs, often used in oil platforms.
- Skycasters mobile satellite may be mounted on a truck, van, railroad car, trailer, etc. Service costs from $100-$5,000/month.
- Tachyon has a similar mobile 2-way dish. They provide remote Internet and private data network access, VOIP, digital video distribution, as well as business continuity/disaster recovery.
- RaySat’s EagleRay provides two-way satellite always-on capability, for sending and receiving e-mail and browsing the Internet over their laptop computers and PDAs. It’s used on high-speed trains. Connexion By Boeing has a similar pricey system.
- Raysat’s SpeedRay 3000 employs a five-inch high dish antenna housed in a low-profile, roof-mounted, impact-resistant case. Designed for use by consumers as well as emergency “first responders,” it provides continuous signal feeds using a phased-array antenna that rotates (inside its housing).
Its panels constantly move up and down and back and forth, to track and maintain the satellite signal regardless of the vehicle’s position relative to the satellite with which it is in communication. The system’s Wi-Fi transceiver is built into the dish antenna housing and so requires no separate installation or connections. RaySat’s 2-Way Internet antenna is scheduled for availability in the third quarter of 2005 and will retail for $3,495.00. Installation and subscriptions to TV and Internet service are additional.
- KVH TrackNet 2 ($5000) provides satellite access (down), but requires a cellular uplink. KVH also offers mariners Inmarsat airtime as low as $1.49/minute for all new Tracphone 252 owners who activate Inmarsat mini-M service through KVH.
- Motosat’s Datastorm (Datastorm users) are always ready to go. Many RV’s have them.
They automatically setup in seconds. Installation costs about $5K with satellite internet access costs $99/month and up. Every county in the state ought to have a van or trailer with a $5,000 2-way satellite terminal. Park it on a hill and deliver WiFi/WiMax to the town if you loose communications. Few counties have the capability. But we’re ready for a terrorist invasion. Everyone knows satellite links are cheap and getting cheaper. That’s what you’ll depend on WHEN the earthquake hits.
- SES AMERICOM’s IP·PRIME provides IPTV, enabling telcos to bundle traditional standard and HD television programming with voice and broadband services. IP·PRIME will originate from the SES AMERICOM IPTV Broadcast Center based in Vernon Valley, New Jersey. They deployed 140 Scientific-Atlanta MPEG-4 Part 10 encoders that will be used for the delivering of its “IP Prime” multi-channel service.
- Americom Government Services (AGS) is an independent corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of SES AMERICOM, formed when SES GLOBAL acquired GE AMERICOM. AGS enables federal agencies to extend secure broadband communications with access to a fleet of 43 satellites for secure, reliable communications.
- SATCON 2005, October 26-27 in New York, features 110 exhibitors, 25 sessions and over 100 speakers, in three tracks of sessions.
- Here are some Space Technology and Disaster Management Links from the United Nations. HumaniNet has practical tips on Satellite Internet access in remote areas. The World Teleport Association keeps track of the hubs.
RAINS (above) is working with first responders and various cities’ mayors, as well as with statewide groups developing strategies for such things as interoperability between radio systems.
Battery operated wireless-mesh routers (right) can instantly establish local area networks. Flarion or WiMax towers can feed mobile units or remote hotspots like Netgear’s mobile hotspots that integrate a Flarion wireless backhaul with a WiFi hotspot or D-Link’s WiFi hotspot with built-in EV-DO.
D-Link says its mobile hotspot will feature two USB 2.0 ports, one for providing wireless broadband access when used in conjunction with a USB enabled 3G mobile cell phone and another port for optional print server. It uses WPA, 802.1X and NAT for security.
If you’ve got an EV-DO account, for example, you could place the EV-DO card in the slot for your broadband backhaul. D-Link has not said what the price will be, and doesn’t expect it to be on shelves until early 2006.
Netgear has an access point with a built-in Flarion card (below) to provide built-in broadband wireless backhaul. WiFiPlanet and Unstrung have additional coverage.
We’ve secured a base of operations and are working with Part-15 to get FEMA approval to operate in the emergency area. We’ve got people heading down starting tomorrow, so if you are interested in being part of this team, drop me an e-mail [sascha at ucimc.org].
Prometheus Radio has received dispensation to set up an emergency LPFM station in New Orleans, so we’re interested in anyone who would like to help with that.
Fire is now a growing concern. Several blazes have been left to burn themselves out because the city water supply has failed and fire-fighters have no way to reach the scene. Several gas leaks have also been reported.
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