Mission-critical coverage for army training ground

Wednesday, 08 February, 2023 | Supplied by: Athonet

Mission-critical coverage for army training ground

Cellular network technology provider Athonet has deployed a private LTE network for the Italian Ministry of Defence to cover a wide and complex area in an army training ground (poligon), to enable voice, data and video services. The goal of the project was to create reliable coverage in a remote area not served by mobile network operators (MNOs) or a tactical environment where MNO coverage has been incapacitated.

The project was deployed using mission-critical infrastructure with a dedicated on-premise 4G core and local IMS for voice over LTE (VoLTE) support and mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) local services. A dedicated control room was created for operational and monitoring purposes of the field activities, with a large screen and interconnection via a secure firewall to the Ministry of Defence intranet and PABX.

The flexible 4G dedicated network created a secure and reliable broadband wireless network. This network supported traffic from fixed or mobile CPEs deployed on the ground and onboard vehicles, HD video from cameras spread around the poligon, and voice and multimedia services from ruggedised smartphones supporting VoLTE/ViLTE and MCPTT services.

The tactical coverage is extendable through portable relay 4G nodes, with secure and high-performing infrastructure able to perform full surveillance and monitoring of the activities in the area from the control room and provide real-time multimedia communication between users in the field. The fixed network and relay solution allowed the coverage to be expanded, which enabled services to the Italian coast.

Radio coverage was based on dedicated multi-sectorial macrocells working in Band 3 providing the coverage for the main area of the poligon. A portable manpack solution able to work fully autonomous (local core, small cell 5+5 W, batteries) working in Band 7 was also supplied to expand, upon request, the coverage in specific hostile areas, operating as a relay for the main fixed cell coverage, using as backhaul the primary LTE coverage.

The solution supported native voice and video communication between smartphones and was fully integrated with a private PABX to support incoming and outgoing calls to the military voice national infrastructure. A new-generation MCPTT solution was also deployed, which enabled groups of voice and video services, geo localisation and map representations of the position of the devices, as well as safety services like emergency calls and man-down alerts.

Benefits of deployment included:

  • Real-time images from the field, broadcast by fixed or mobile/body cameras or smartphones.
  • MCPTT dispatcher showing the map location of people and vehicles, which provided a clear understanding of the activities in the field and granted a huge improvement in term of effectiveness and safety.
  • Full integration with secure Ministry of Defence intranet and PABX, permitting the forwarding in real time of all the necessary information and contents for remote personnel, allowing them to communicate with multiple stakeholders in case of interforce and/or international exercitation.
  • The solution increased the monitoring of the local activities and implemented a man-down/alarm solution, increasing the safety of the operators.

The solution was able to provide reliable and stable connectivity throughout the poligon, facilitating the operations and exercises that are performed there. In addition, the solution is fully self-sustainable due to the deployment of a solar panel that is able to support the power supply needs of the network infrastructure.

The possibility to get real-time images, information and localisation from the field allows many stakeholders to remotely join, avoiding the need to travel and reducing impact on the ecosystem. Finally, the flexibility and scalability of the solution means the network can be further extended by adding other nodes.

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