A first principle of private cellular in shared or unlicensed spectrum is LTE-based networks can be quickly deployed in emergency scenarios. This is the idea with various network-in-a-box solutions, which can be helicoptered in to crisis zones.
Of course, crisis zones have become a feature of everyday life, in recent months, as the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has taken hold. One announcement related to the rapid-deployment of LTE in shared spectrum that we missed, some weeks back, was from RF Connect.
The US systems integrator said it had deployed a private LTE network in the 3.55-3.7 GHz CBRS band for community based healthcare company Memorial Health System of Springfield, in Illinois in the US. The deployment is temporary, to establish connectivity for doctors and nursing staff in triage tents and testing facilities next to the main site, to cope with the Covid-19 surge.
RF Connect has worked with US networking vendor CommScope and Ireland based core LTE networking provider Druid Software on the project. The trio have “volunteered services and gear” for the cause; everything is under the OnGo brand, the CBRS Alliance’s qualification for certified 3.55.-3.7 GHz cellular products.
The new private LTE network, which has been running since April, enables connectivity for healthcare devices that would normally attach to an indoor network. “These networks do not require power or cable infrastructure,” noted RF Connect in a press announcement. “They can be set up quickly, and include security measures for health care networks.”
Jeff Hipchen, the company’s executive vice president, commented: “Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we had been building and deploying kits to demonstrate the wireless connectivity advantages of OnGo private networks. It was a no-brainer to reallocate those resources to gain real-world field experience and, more importantly, play a role in helping our health care workers deliver patient care.”
Jerry Miller, vice president for information services at Memorial Health System, said: “The temporary wireless network which complements our existing wireless and wired network empowers us to appropriately focus our attention and resources on providing patient care. We’re profoundly grateful for the proactive offer from RF Connect and its partners to help.”
Commscope is providing access points for the project. The company has donated products fo in-building wireless systems for new hospitals to support Covid-19 patients in the US, China, and Europe, it said.
Upendra Pingle, vice president for venue and campus networks at CommScope, said: “Now is the time to utilise every technology resource to help organisations that are on the front lines fighting this pandemic.”
Irish firm Druid Software, contributing its Raemis-branded core networking platform and services to the Memorial Health System setup, has a number of commercial deals with healthcare companies utilising CBRS in the US. It also has work with various industrial operatives, in ports and factories, in Europe and Asia, using locally-available vertical and unlicensed spectrum.
Liam Kenny, chief executive at Druid Software, said: “This partnership enables those on the front lines to communicate effectively, reliably, and securely without entering the building where the risk of contamination is significantly greater.”
It said in a statement: “Using private network slicing features the IT administrators can group users like doctors and nursing staff and prioritise critical data traffic on the OnGo network. Raemis also easily integrates with the latest nurse call technology ensuring crash teams and all critical nurse call messages are delivered to intended groups mobile devices.”