Saturday 9 May 2015

Couple of Satellite Backhaul Presentations

After publishing the emergency communication options last week, I was made aware of couple of recent presentations on Satellite backhaul options. The first one is from Richard Deasington of iDirect at MWC 2015:

The other one is from Vince Onuigbo of Hughes. As can be seen above, the biggest issue with Satellites is the latency which is 600ms for the geostationary satellites. Anyway, here is their presentation:

Saturday 2 May 2015

Emergency communication options in times of disaster

The Nepal disaster is another reminder that we need to be prepared in case of natural (or man-made) disasters and in times of emergencies.

ITU said that it has deployed emergency telecommunication equipment in Nepal following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the country on 25 April 2015. The emergency equipment includes 35 satellite mobile phones and 10 satellite Broadband Global Area Network terminals along with solar panels and laptops to support relief coordination efforts.

Satellite phones have been getting better with higher speeds. Thuraya Telecom has some interesting videos on Youtube, here is one that shows how to get good these phones have become:

Satellites can also be used to provide backhaul for small cells and can be installed relatively quickly.

Thaicom recently announced that they have sent equipment and engineers to help reconnect the region quickly. From a picture posted on their website, it looks like they are backhauling the small cells but I dont have any more details.

A similar approach is being done by another satellite operator SES, in conjunction with

Drones (UAVs) and Baloons are another option for use in these scenarios but they need (expensive) receivers to be installed, which may be an issue.

One of the lessons learned after the Japanese twin disasters of earthquake and tsunami was the need to deploy more small cells.
According to Akiyoshi Ishiwata, a principal research analyst at Gartner in Tokyo covering Japan's mobile networks, 'each of the operators are actively installing small cells and picocells in buildings, subways and indoor areas'. These miniature basestations improve indoor coverage, and improve a network's resilience by using more diverse power supplies and backhaul connections. Ishiwata said operators are considering using femtocells as the basis of a national machine-to-machine communications network that could also include earthquake sensors.
Cabinet with fuel cell

According to The Register, DoCoMo has tested blackout-proof hydrogen cell base station in Japan, ready for the next tsunami (see picture above).

Finally, I saw this tweet about Vodafone's emergency 'network in a back pack'

Its not the first time Vodafone is helping out with a Small cell in a backpack. According to WSJ:
Vodafone Group said Monday its philanthropic division has created a mobile network in a backpack that can be deployed in 10 minutes, enabling aid workers to carry out their work in disaster zones. 
The Instant Network Mini, which can be taken as hand luggage on commercial flights, can provide up to five concurrent calls within a radius of about 330 feet and enable text messages to be sent to thousands of people. 
The 24-pound backpack is an innovation that follows on from the company’s original Instant Network—a portable network in a larger form that can be transported in four suitcases weighing 220 pounds. It offers a much wider operating radius of up to 3 miles.
Two original Instant Network kits were used in the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, enabling 1.4 million text messages and 443,288 calls in 29 days, Vodafone says. 
The backpack, developed by Vodafone’s Spanish business, as well as Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies and nongovernment organization Télécoms Sans Frontières, provides a secure 2G GSM network, with a GSM base transceiver station connecting to a host network over a satellite connection. 
A 2G (short for second-generation) network can support voice calls and text messages but can’t easily handle Web surfing or video, unlike the 3G and 4G networks in wide consumer use.
In African countries, having a network allows people to use services like M-Pesa, for instant money transfers to friends and family. Vodafone has also donated £100,000 to support relief efforts following Nepal earthquake that killed more than 3,300 people.

Do let me know if I have missed anything.

Additional reading: