Virtual Reality Coming to Your In-Flight Entertainment?

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is an extra cost (roughly $10 per flight, depending on your airline), and the movies and TV they show are typically outdated.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.

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

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.”

How To Keep Your 2 Way Radio

Buying two way radio equipment is a very beneficial investment, but in order for you to get the most out of your money you should ensure that the equipment is well cared for. If you use and maintain your 2 way radios with proper care, they will function at their optimum capacity and you can expect them to last for many years. While no 2 way radio can last forever, there are some simple practices which can help extend the life expectancy of your two way radios and ensure they function at their very best. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the top care tips for your two way radios;

Storage

You should always store your radio(s) correctly so as to keep it in a tip top condition. The ideal environment for storing your radio involves a cool and dry (ideally at room temperature, which should be about 72 degrees Fahrenheit) with limited exposure to the extreme weather conditions like excessive cold or heat, and such other elements of water and sunlight. Excessive temperatures can easily damage the batteries; the moisture may end up corroding the batteries. Also, when storing your 2 way radio, you should make sure that it’s turned off and batteries are removed.

Charging Your 2 way Radio

First of all, you should know that 2 way radios are usually slightly different, so you need to familiarize yourself with the specific charging instructions of your radio. That being so, it is important to note that nearly all of the manufacturers will advise that you to turn off your radio while it’s charging. If you do not, your radio will be drawing current and also charging at the same time, and this can end up shortening the lifespan of the battery.

Overcharging your radio batteries can also cause numerous problems and will have a negative impact on its’ overall battery life, so you should make sure that when it’s charged fully you unplug its’ charger; do not leave it charging all through the night if its’ likely to remain fully charged for a long period of time while its’ still being charged. When you buy new batteries its’ the only time you can leave the radio charging overnight before you start using them for the 1st time; it’ll help you get the maximum battery capacity.

Day to Day Use

Every 2 way radios user should be very mindful of their daily use. Although there are some 2 way radios which are designed to be quite robust, like the explosion proof and waterproof radios, they should still be treated with great care, always. Even if you have a waterproof or explosion proof radio, do not subject it to extreme temperatures.

You should also avoid grabbing your two way radio by its’ antenna, as this will eventually have a negative impact on your radio’s reception and transmission quality. In addition, you should also avoid drops so as to maximize the long term functionality of your radio; consider using 2 way radio belt clips so as to reduce the chances of your radio getting dropped and subsequently getting damaged. Protecting the exterior of your radio helps protect its’ interior, thus minimizing the repairs and the replacing of the equipment.

Another important tip to note when it comes to the day to day use of two way radios, is you should never expose your radio to any solvents (unless it has been designed to be used in the harsh conditions); this includes any cleaning fluids and alcohol. Also, try and stick with the accessories which are designed specifically for your particular type of radio; this is especially important when it comes to your radio battery, charger and adapter. Using an incompatible accessory can end up shortening your radio’s lifespan and can even destroy it.

Cleaning Your 2 way Radio

You should regularly clean your radio to keep it in good working condition. The most effective and efficient way of cleaning your 2 way radio also happens to be one of the easiest ways as well; strong chemicals or intensive cleaning isn’t necessary. The only supplies you’ll need include some water and a microfiber cloth. The microfiber cloth will effectively wipe away the smudges and dirt without causing any damage to your radio. As for the more stubborn marks and stains, you can use a damp cloth and then wipe until the radio is clean. Remember, never immerse your two way radio in water to clean it.

Conclusion

2 way radios are among the most versatile and toughest communication solutions, often lasting for many years before needing any repairs or replacement. However, in order to extend the lifespan of your two way radio even further, it is best to employ the above tips for two way radio care to fully secure your investment. Protecting your 2 way radio will not only increase its’ longevity, but it also ensures that you will always have reliable communications. Well, as you can see above, taking care of two way radio is relatively easy, and the amount of maintenance required is minimal. A simple cleaning now and then, proper handling, maintenance and storage is all you need in order to extend the lifespan of your two way radio and keep it in a great working condition.

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

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.”

Offering workers hearing protection options

Much Like Protecting your sight or looking after your health, your hearing should also be protected, this article tackles hearing protection within the workplace and what type of earplugs are best, Enjoy.

OSHA regulations dictate we offer a “variety” of hearing protectors to noise-exposed workers. What is best practice for providing a variety while keeping inventory to a minimum?

Per CFR 1910.95(i)(3), “Employees shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable hearing protectors provided by the employer.” But does “variety of suitable hearing protectors” mean two or 10, earplugs or earmuffs, different colors or different sizes?

The wrong approach is to choose a variety based on factors that have no effect on protecting hearing, including the published noise reduction rating. Some safety managers offer several different large foam earplugs that are yellow, green and orange – mistakenly assuming they meet the “variety” requirement and not realizing that a significant portion of their workforce will never achieve an adequate fit with a large foam earplug. In those cases, their supposed “variety” actually limits the number of workers adequately protected.

This bad assumption is often codified into company safety policies that require a minimum NRR: “Approved hearing protectors must have an NRR of at least 32 decibels,” or similar criteria. By definition, that typically means a large foam earplug. Despite the higher NRR based on 10 laboratory test subjects, workers with smaller ear canals will never achieve an adequate fit with those large foam earplugs to stop noise-induced hearing loss.

What are the factors that affect good fit of an earplug?

  • Size: Like a cork in a bottle, an earplug that is too large or too small will never achieve an acoustic seal to protect hearing. Offering a variety of sizes significantly improves the percentage of employees obtaining a good fit.
  • Shape: Ear canal openings may appear round, oval or slit. A foam earplug often fills an oval or slit opening better than pre-molded earplugs.
  • Ease of insertion: Some workers have difficulty rolling or inserting foam earplugs due to lack of mobility. For these workers, an earplug with a stem may be easier to insert.

Based on thousands of fit tests administered to workers in the field, the following four earplug styles provide a selection that would adequately protect nearly every worker:

  • Large foam earplug
  • Smaller foam earplug
  • Large reusable earplug
  • Smaller reusable earplug

The good news is that offering a variety does not necessarily increase cost. Buying 1,000 earplugs of one style or 250 earplugs of four different styles is fairly equivalent in cost. But the bigger variety significantly increases the probability that more workers will be adequately protected.

Many worksites adjust their inventory based on results of their fit-testing of hearing protectors. By reviewing which earplugs repeatedly provide the best fit, these companies identify the gaps or duplications in their offering and can adjust accordingly. Sometimes, this means adding a smaller-size earplug, but many times companies find they can remove some less-effective earplugs from their inventory. It’s not necessary to carry a dozen different earplug styles.

Finally, any offering of hearing protection needs a hands-on training component. How can a workers determine whether their ear canal is large or small, round or oval? It’s impossible to view your own ear canal opening in a mirror. A quick glance by a safety trainer can be of tremendous benefit in helping workers select the right earplug the first time.

NFL investigating Giants for using two-way radio during game against Cowboys

Apparently using a two way radio during an American football game is frowned upon over in the good old US of A, This article is about a game between the Giants and the Cowboys. During a Game the coaching staff and Quarterback are not allowed to communicate if there is 15 seconds or less on the clock, this rule might have been broken with the use of a walkie talkie.

The NFL is investigating the Giants’ potentially rule-breaking use of a two-way radio during the team’s recent 10-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

The use of a two-way radio by a coach during a game is strictly against league rules, according to ESPN.

In the fourth quarter of the Cowboys game, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was spotted using a walkie-talkie to communicate play calls with Eli Manning after his headset malfunctioned.

In the fourth quarter of the game, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was spotted using a walkie-talkie to communicate play calls with Eli Manning after his headset malfunctioned.

The Cowboys issued a formal complaint to the league over the radio use, but the NFL’s investigation was already underway by the time Dallas contacted them.

The NFL has a rule against coaches using two-way handheld radios because the league cannot control when both parties are communicating.

A coach using a walkie-talkie makes it harder for the NFL to monitor a league rule that states communication from the sideline to the quarterback must end when 15 seconds are left on the play clock.

With headsets, the NFL has the power to shut off communication at will with a “cutoff switch operator,” ESPN reported.

The Giants had no comment when reached Thursday night.

McAdoo used the walkie talkie in question, however, for about four or five plays on the Giants’ fourth-quarter drive that ended in an Eli Manning interception on a pass intended for Victor Cruz.

McAdoo’s normal equipment malfunctioned and as the Giants worked to fix it, the coach was handed the walkie talkie temporarily because its signal was reaching Manning’s helmet.

As the Giants worked to correct McAdoo’s equipment, Odell Beckham Jr. could be seen running to the sideline to bring plays back to the huddle and Manning was heading over to the sideline, as well.

There is no evidence in reviewing the game film that demonstrates McAdoo was on the walkie talkie for longer than the allowed 15 seconds of communication with his quarterback.

There is also, of course, no evidence that the Giants gained any advantage even if he was. The drive ended in a turnover and the Giants’ offense stunk most of the night.

Imtradex Aurelis Handheld Microphones Future Proof to fit all Purposes

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/

Far offshore windfarms present communications challenges

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.

Ericsson first to deliver 5G NR radio

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

A giant solar storm nearly triggered a nuclear war in 1967

We all know how important radio communications are and at a time before the internet and even digital communications, governments relied on RF communications that were susceptible to the suns solar storms, if you add that to the cold war nuclear tensions then we could all be living in holes now.

Cold War history is rife with close calls that nearly led to nuclear holocaust.

In September 1983, for example, sunlight reflecting off a patch of clouds fooled a Soviet missile-warning system into detecting the launch of five US intercontinental ballistic missiles that never were. A wary colonel in a bunker ignored the alarm on a 50/50 hunch.

Two months later, US forces staged “Able Archer 83” — a massive nuclear-strike drill on the doorstep of the USSR. Soviet commanders panicked at the show of force and nearly bathed America in thermonuclear energy. Once again, an act of human doubt saved the planet.

Now scientists have one more hair-raising event to add to the books: The “Great Storm” of May 1967.

“The storm made its initial mark with a colossal solar radio burst causing radio interference … and near-simultaneous disruptions of dayside radio communication,” a group of atmospheric scientists and military weather service personnel wrote in a new study, published August 9 in the journalSpace Weather.

Hours later, high frequency communications dropped out near US military installations in and near the Arctic — one of the closest places to station nuclear weapons and launch them at a Cold War-era Soviet Union.

“Such an intense, never-before-observed solar radio burst was interpreted as jamming,” the study authors wrote. “Cold War military commanders viewed full scale jamming of surveillance sensors as a potential act of war.”

A ‘Great Storm’

Earth’s magnetic field protects life on the planet by corralling the sun’s high-energy particles toward the planet’s polar regions.

If the sun happens to launch a cloud of solar particles directly toward Earth during a violent outburst, called a coronal mass ejection, it can trigger powerful geomagnetic storms.

This not only leads to beautiful auroras, but can also scramble wireless communications and disrupt radar systems.

While The Washington Post wrote up a story about the storm as “City Gets Rare Look at Northern Lights,” top US military commanders sounded the alarms in secret.

The Air Weather Service (AWS) — a relatively new branch of the Air Force — had warned military leadership about the possibility of a solar storm, but US commanders believed the Soviet forces were jamming NORAD systems designed to detect threatening planes and missiles.

As the Strategic Air Command warmed up the engines of bombers and taxied toward the runway, the decision to go airborne may have been kicked all the way up to the “highest levels of government,” possibly involving President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Just in time, military space weather forecasters conveyed information about the solar storm’s potential to disrupt radar and radio communications,” according to a press release from the American Geophysical Union. “The planes remained on the ground and the U.S. avoided a potential nuclear weapon exchange with the Soviet Union.”

And this all happened at the peak of nuclear armament — when a record 31,255 nuclear weapons were deployed around the world. (Today there are roughly 7,200 nuclear armaments at hand.)

“Had it not been for the fact that we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting, the impact [of the storm] likely would have been much greater,” study leader and UCAR atmospheric scientist Delores Knipp said in the release.

After the near miss, the researchers say the military learned to listen to its space weather forecasters, improve its abilities to see another looming “Great Storm,” and avert the first and perhaps final global nuclear exchange.

 

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