Webinar presenters Jason Johnston and Michael Fletcher answered a number of your questions after their presentation, How Public Safety Can Utilize LTE during Planned Events. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Do you recommend that agencies use dual carriers when initially deploying LTE to a fleet? And if so, how do we determine if our current equipment can support that?
Michael Fletcher: Well, if you don’t mind, Jason, I’ll speak up to that first. When I was a Deputy Sheriff on patrol, I had redundant weapons. I had a gun on my hip, a gun on my ankle. I had a less than lethal taser, a baton, and pepper spray. So absolutely, we’re always going to encourage you to have dual networks. Just in case there’s a problem like bad weather that takes down one of the networks, you’re going to have the ability to have that second radio up, active, and talking. So, I would absolutely encourage that. Jason, I’ll let you speak to it as well.
Jason Johnston: Yeah. As far as the technology goes if you’re already running Cradlepoint equipment, we can, depending on as I demonstrated in the scalability slide, If it’s an IBR1700, for example, that actually has an extra slot built right into it. If you’ve already deployed IBR900s and you have a single carrier solution, we can add an extensibility dock that will house our MC400 form factor, and then we have multiple different modem technologies that can fit that same form factor. So, we have, you know, all the way, Michael, I’m not as familiar with the CAT ratings, but it’s all the way from like a CAT 6 to a CAT 18. So, you can choose that device that fits the need. I don’t really look at the prices very much I’m on the support side but Michael can probably tell you when you’re deploying 100 or 300 unit deployment, the scalability really becomes a factor especially if he’s helping you gather that grant money.
Michael Fletcher: Yeah and something else that Cradlepoint has done as it relates to the technology in our hardware. We have always gone to market and have given you a software-defined modem that would receive and hold two active SIM cards and you could switch between those two SIM cards in a single modem. With the advancing networks that Verizon is building for the public safety organizations around the country and with the deployment of AT&T’s FirstNet, we have built our radios to be deployable certified by all of those networks, and it does what is called Auto SIM Recognition. So, you simply put the SIM Card for that carrier in the modem and the Cradlepoint device is a smart device. It will automatically recognize that and will provide you the connectivity that you need. One single Cradlepoint router with dual modems can support as many as 124 end users. So, there’s a lot of horsepower behind that modem. Then, of course, being certified by multiple carriers is a pretty powerful solution.
Jason Johnston: And just to expand on that thought, it really depends on what are you looking for… Are you looking for fail-over or are you looking for two active solutions? So just to quantify what Michael was saying, we do have the ability to test or pull for connectivity on SIM1, and then fail-over to SIM2. But we do not have the ability to run two active SIMs on one modem. That is a little confusing at first but just understand that based on your needs, we may recommend additional hardware if you did want to have those two active simultaneous connections. Think of it like a radio, you can’t broadcast on multiple channels, you’re only going to broadcast on the one at a time.
Michael Fletcher: Correct
Audience Question: Michael, what kind of policies are needing to be written once we start deployment of these technological resources, the LTE network?
Michael Fletcher: Well, if I understand the question, you ultimately want to have some kind of an understanding of what the City or County board of Directors or what the executive staff of your agency is going to require.
A good example would be a body-worn camera. For instance, establishing a TOP (temporary operating procedure) or a SOP (standard operating procedure) when you have a body-worn camera and you’re getting ready to make contact with a citizen. You want that body-worn camera to be functioning and recording. Like, for instance, once you engage, you don’t want that officer to turn that camera off. That would be a questionable act and probably violate some kind of policy. But basically, you will want to understand what your government agency’s policy is about: How to communicate.
As an example – if it’s a secure channel on the LTE cellular network and it is only available for sworn and you would never really ever get access to that LTE channel to a non-sworn or a person outside of your agency. That means you’re going to ultimately probably want to have some kind of a policy or guideline in place and that second channel that Jason mentioned, where you can have a second, non-mission-critical channel for those people that are not sworn to communicate on. I’m sure I’m not really fully answering the question, but it’s something I would gladly talk through on a private conversation if you’d like.
Audience Question: I think actually, you did get really close or actually did answer them. It looks like they were talking about civilians being authorized to use the networks and so on and so forth. So, I think you actually did potentially answer that.
Jason Johnston: And just to expand slightly on that, I’ll be brief. We have deployments in the past where we literally have like a private – it could be different carriers or the same cellular carrier, but we have the ability to privatize the channel to where the connectivity rarely goes through the carrier’s infrastructure. It doesn’t actually get out to what we called the dirty internet. We can secure that connectivity on one of the channels to the extent where it literally can be used for your CAD or dispatch only, and then we can have a completely separate modem. We can allow the Cradlepoint router to provide that routing functionality to steer that traffic over the desired way and kind of connection.
Audience Question: Speaking of body-worn cameras. The next question is are 5G speeds sufficient to stream body-worn camera footage and is there any camera manufacturers that are including this as an option?
Michael Fletcher: So, I’ll take the first stab at this, Jason. Cradlepoint and this technology is really the funnel or the conduit that gives you the connection from point A to point B from the body camera or from the dash camera in a patrol car through the router over to the network and then the dispatch. 4G speeds will support cameras. As Jason began to explain, the usage of 5G is going to be very fast speeds but it’s going to be built out in the infrastructure that maybe doesn’t necessarily need to be mobile or if it is going to be mobile, it’s going to take that special equipment to support no matter what the ones and zeros are, whether it’s video feed or voice or data from your CAD system. Jason, if you can, maybe you can expand a little bit about how 5G is going to support cameras.
Jason Johnston: Yeah and that’s really like Michael said, it’s really going to come down to whether the carrier will allow that amount of bandwidth to exist on their network. Our devices are very capable, and we have agencies currently in certain areas of the country that are using constant video offload. What we do for them is, like, we just talked about one of the potential use cases of a second modem. So, we can have a second modem that literally will be dedicated to that all offline video feed. Another solution that we can do with the Cradlepoint is we can isolate that that data stream to a Wi-Fi radio. So, when you pull into the station, all of that video is pushed out over the Wi-Fi radio thereby not needing to egress over cellular. But to answer the question very specifically, we do currently have use cases where we are doing direct, LTE video offload.
Audience Question: What are some of the more common challenges that agencies experience when they’re initially deploying LTE to a fleet?
Michael Fletcher: So, I think the biggest challenge I’ve seen agencies have is they don’t necessarily measure twice and cut once. We would recommend that you really think twice about do you need a single modem, or do you need dual modems? Are you going to install it in a vehicle that you own? If you lease it, you may think twice about punching a hole in the roof of that vehicle that you’re going to turn back into a dealership or sell away, you know, in a year’s time. Just understand who your primary carriers are or how you want to utilize dual carriers, really determines the kind of bandwidth that you want, and how you’re going to utilize the technology. Then get a quote. It’s always better to think that through. So you wouldn’t necessarily want to get an IBR1700 and put it in a police car with a 5-in-1 or a 7-in-1 antenna and then 30 or 40 days later think, “Oh shoot, I should have gotten a second modem.”, which would require you to have an 11 in 1 antenna with the efficient leads.
Jason Johnston: So, one of the other factors that we’ve taken into account if we’re talking about physical install and hurdles that agencies have had to overcome, we actually have a document about the vehicle installation guide and it goes over some of these things like Michael’s pointing out like, what’s the best practice for antennas and leads out for your best capability?
One example, to Michael’s point that I would give, is, are you going to have a remote device that you want to check meters with, for example? Are you going to the park and then want to walk away from your vehicle? If you put that antenna on the trunk deck, the rest of your vehicle is actually going to block that signal to the forward portion of your vehicle. So, if it’s a standard patrol car, a trunk lead deployment might be a great solution, but then if you actually want to have a better mobile range, you know, we talk about this on fire apparatus a lot where we’re going to do patient care. So, we really want to take advantage of that Wi-Fi disbursement. So, antenna selection and placement become a very critical piece, but that’s just a resource I can give you that’ll help you avoid some of those unintended mistakes
Michael Fletcher: As it relates to antennas, I want to also include that Cradlepoint is not the manufacturer of an antenna but much energy and effort and work has gone into confirming what is going to be the very best antenna and give you the very best experience when you deploy a Cradlepoint device. So, please do not think that just any antenna is going to satisfy your needs. There are only three antenna manufacturers who’ve gone through the work and all the extra effort to be certified, not only by the FCC and the cell carrier, but also Cradlepoint and that’s going to be Taoglas, Panorama, and Parsec. So please just know that when you buy and deploy a Cradlepoint router, and you do not have a vetted-out antenna in your solution and you have a bad experience, it’s going to cause you some challenges. So that’s really important, just think through how you’re going to deploy it and utilize the correct antenna from one of those three that I just mentioned. They’re all fantastic manufacturers and they work very hard to have that relationship with the carriers and with Cradlepoint. And so, we want you to have a good experience. And we want you to have the very best signal capable and that’s really going to rely on a properly placed antenna.
Audience Question: How do we go about scoping and pricing out the changes that might be necessary to upgrade our system to 5G?
Michael Fletcher: That’s something that we can talk about, and you’ll probably be able to find that information on our website. But you really want to talk about what you have now and what it’s going to take to incorporate 5G as it gets lit up around the nation. Again, I would just invite you to give me a quick call. I’ll answer the question, and if I can’t, I’ll point you to somebody like Jason or I’ll get you involved with the account manager for your agency in your area of the country to make sure that you have all of the resources available to you. We have well over 200 people dedicated to public sector agencies like yourselves within Cradlepoint. Nearly four times greater than even our closest competition. So, we’ve got plenty of technical support and it’s completely free and available to you. We’re just a phone call away.
Jason Johnston: I would just add that it really depends on what the use case is. Do we want multiple active-active modems? I mean just depending on what hardware we spec depending on what the use case is could have some pretty decent scale to it. So, you know if you’re looking for a patrol car solution with a video offload like I suggested before we push that over wireless. We can do that with our IBR900 series. Those come with the capability of an internal 1200 Modem. That is still a CAT 18 modem. So that gets you that leading class speed on 4G at the sub-6, 5G technology baked in. And then if you wanted to scale up and have active-active, multiple modems. We want to push, you know, video offload over that cellular constantly. That’s obviously going to be a different footprint and for a solution like that, I might recommend either an IBR900 within extensibility dock or if you can take advantage of all of the technology in the IBR1700. And if you can afford the real estate, the larger footprint in the patrol car, and we’re specing out new equipment. That might be the way to go as well especially if you wanted to capture OBD data – that’s something we didn’t really get into today, either. That’s something that like Michael is suggesting, that a sales engineer could really get in-depth with and help you design a system to let you know what that budget probably would need to be.
Audience Question: Do you all have any kind of insight in terms of when 5G is available in certain communities? We specifically have someone from Salina, Kansas, wondering when 5G is going to be available there.
Michael Fletcher: I think we could probably answer that question, and if not, we’ll have the relationship with the carrier in that region, that can help answer that question and get an idea of what the timeline is. It’s most definitely being deployed around the nation and the carriers are working very hard to build out the technology in the rural areas.
So, I do have one last point that we probably skipped it without really meaning to. The advantage of the cradle point router and our software solution is really very powerful. The NetCloud manager software as a service is going to provide you and your fleet manager or your IT Director or your Dispatcher visibility through one pane of glass of all of the vehicles or all of the routers in your fleet. I’ll give you a quick example of the benefit of this. There was a Nevada highway patrolman that was dispatched in the middle of the night to an incident and while enroute out in the middle of the desert, he lost control of his vehicle and rolled that vehicle. He lost consciousness but because his agency had purchased and deployed the Cradlepoint router, that dispatcher was able to use the built-in GPS modem that is in our device and using NetCloud Manager, they were able to locate that officer quickly and they were able to extract him from the vehicle, and it saved his life. The Cradlepoint Router with that built-in GPS modem is so accurate. It can tell dispatch exactly where your police officer or your deputy sheriff’s patrol car is sitting – accurate within nine feet. So, the Net Cloud Manager is a very, very powerful software solution. When you open up the box and deploy a Cradlepoint router from day one, you’re going to get the hardware, the software that is the Net Cloud Manager, and our technical support in Boise, and a limited lifetime warranty on that hardware.
A lot of powerful stuff rolled up into one single SKU. I would love to have a more in-depth conversation with anybody on the call about our solutions and how it could benefit their agency.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of How Public Safety Can Utilize LTE during Planned Events.