Enabling reliable 5G mmWave networks for first responders

Speed is of the essence for first responders. Police, fire and rescue, and emergency medical services need to move quickly and share information to protect the public in a wide range of different circumstances.

The mobile communications network for these first responders needs to support that speed of decision making with access to the right data quickly and efficiently. The next generation of 5G technology is key to enabling this data sharing between each other and back to the control centre.

The growing need for high bandwidth networks

Detailed maps and precise navigation are needed to direct first responders to exact locations, along with the background information they need to be effective, such as building plans or medical records. However, this needs a reliable high bandwidth communications system with low power consumption so that the data does not drain the batteries of cameras, terminals, and phones of operators in the field.

Crucially, combining all this data from multiple sources, including high quality video feeds from nearby cameras, vehicles and personnel around the area provides more accurate situational awareness for staff in the control centre and can help save lives. However, the data rates that are required to support this exchange of data means that existing communications networks would struggle.

The emergence of 5G brings a wide range of technologies that can be used to support first responders with their communications system and high amounts of data transfer. An example of one of these technologies is IEEE based mmWave networking equipment. Using frequencies in the unlicensed 57-71 GHz band provides operators of public safety and emergency networks with resilient high speed, low latency connections that enable the fast and efficient sharing of video, voice, and imagery at the scene. The low power requirements and small size of mmWave nodes allows a mobile basestation to be installed on an emergency vehicle or at a control centre and coordinate the communication of different teams at the scene, particularly high-definition video streams. Providing these high-quality streams allows for more effective decision making, potentially saving lives.

Crucially, equipment utilising the unlicensed mmWave band offers many compelling advantages. It can deliver more capacity at lower cost versus 4G/LTE and 5G NR (3.5 GHz “mid band”) based technologies for example. With 2-6 Gbps per node at <$0.10/Gigabyte for <50W power consumption it provides 10X the data rate, for 10% cost/gigabyte and for less than 5% power consumption. The latter which is often a vital consideration for public safety and security applications. Additionally, IEEE 5G mmWave wireless equipment provides the ability to establish tactical networks that are fast to set up and don’t require access to a core network. This avoids the problems associated with public networks being overwhelmed during a disaster, as the encrypted mmWave systems operate in a different band yet can easily interconnect with existing 5G networks and technologies. These carrier-grade 5G mmWave networks allow specified data streams to be prioritised to deliver the vital voice and video communications for public safety applications.

Reach and scalability of mmWave networks

The mobile mmWave base station can also provide reliable high-speed links when there is no network available at all, for example during forest fires or floods. The low power 5G mmWave systems can extend over a wide area using a resilient mesh architecture that carries high bandwidth data back to the nearest Point of Presence with minimal setup time, which is crucial in an emergency situation. Self-powered masts can use solar cells or wind power to drive the mmWave links in remote areas to provide extended range for disaster recovery.

For even broader coverage, mmWave 5G can be carried in airborne systems via a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS). This provides the high bandwidth connection back to the ground to provide vital network connections for disaster recovery after a flood, fire, or earthquake.

Blu Wireless has developed unique technology for mmWave links that can be adopted by equipment makers supplying first responders. Using the unlicensed band allows the equipment to be quickly and easily deployed to assist in a crisis, with a sophisticated antenna design and encrypted mesh network to enable gigabit networks with low power consumption. This supports variable frequency channelization from 110MHz to 1760MHz for extended LoS range of over 4km and ultra-dense urban deployments.

Our high bandwidth, low latency robust mmWave network technology enables effective and reliable public safety operations. We work closely with our clients and partners to create intelligent and flexible solutions, building a connected ecosystem together.

To learn our how equipment might support your specific needs get in touch with us today.