Vodafone has demonstrated its portfolio of emergency network options for remote, zero-coverage areas, as part of a live civil defence simulation for customers and the emergency services.
The solutions showcased help first response teams establish 4G connectivity within minutes of arriving on-site, to provide temporary remote coverage in disaster recovery operations, emergency responses, tactical situations, or at special events.
Running over Vodafone’s mobile network, a portable system known as the Nokia Network in a Box was demonstrated, along with the Vodafone Z-Car, a prototype 4G mobile cell site in a vehicle, which is operational as soon as it is switched on and even when on-the-move.
“Although we’re able to provide network coverage to more than 98 percent of the population where they live, work and play, there are some remote locations our mobile network just can’t reach due to the ruggedness of parts of New Zealand’s landscape and our low population density,” says Tony Baird, Technology Director, Vodafone New Zealand.
“When responding to an emergency situation in a remote or isolated area, the Nokia Network in a Box and Vodafone Z-Car solutions provide a new level of support for the teams who attend these incidents.
“In an emergency where every second can count, speed is of the essence. The Nokia Network in a Box can be set-up anywhere, at anytime, and can be operational within around 15-minutes, while the Vodafone Z-Car is operational as soon as it is switched on.”
The Nokia Network in a Box system comes in three sizes to fit operational needs. The smallest of the three - weighing about 25 kg - fits in a car, whilst the larger option is mounted to a small trailer.
Baird says the Nokia Network in a Box’s Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) capability enables "agile and flexible integration" of third-party applications at the edge of the network.
Also demonstrated was the Vodafone Z-Car. Equipped with a low profile satellite antenna on the roof and a 4G unit in the boot, the Z-Car provides first responders with 4G coverage on the move.
Able to travel to any location that can be reached by 4-wheel drive, the Z-car can provide 4G connectivity for anyone with a Vodafone 4G device within a coverage radius of up to two-kilometres.
“These technologies will help ensure that our emergency services can remain connected not only via voice calls, but by being able to access video and high speed data while in the field,” Baird adds.
“It is another demonstration of our commitment to supporting our emergency responders and helps expand the solutions we have available as part of our Vodafone Instant Network Programme.”
Nokia Network in a Box and Vodafone Z-Car have the ability to work together to provide a wider coverage footprint, or in isolation.
“We are thrilled to have worked alongside Vodafone New Zealand to demonstrate the integration of emergency services radio with 4G,” adds Ray Owen, Head of Singapore, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, Nokia Networks.
“The solution we’ve showcased is one of the world’s first deployments of a miniaturised 4G network in an emergency-type scenario.
“Having voice and data services in areas with limited or no network coverage is a critical requirement for first responders.
“The Nokia Network in a Box offers standard authorised IP connectivity and can provide complete network coverage through the Vodafone network for the emergency services in minutes.”