SCF Awards Winner - Excellence in commercial deployment ruralAs coaches, teams, fans, and the media prepared for “The Big Game” in late January, public safety agencies in the San Francisco area also began their preparations for what is generally regarded as the biggest sporting event of the year. With 20 days until “The Big Game”, Barry Fraser of BAYRICS, joined by DHS and the Northern California Regional Information Center (NCRIC) asked Parallel Wireless to provide band 14 coverage for The Big Game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as well as at the NFL Experience in downtown San Francisco.

As a young startup, what do you say when you’re asked to do the impossible? “Yes”, of course!

Over the next few days the NFL provided details about what would be required for this deployment; Parallel Wireless would be given two locations at each of the North and South scoreboards in the stadium where Converged Wireless System (CWS) multi-mode base stations from Parallel Wireless would be mounted to provide band 14 coverage. With flexible backhaul options included on the CWS’, any backhaul option could be utilized to provide band 14 coverage at the venue. The two CWS’ covered the entire venue to provide law enforcement with their own frequencies for broadband voice, data and video. In the end, NFL RF management asked us to just focus on the NFL Experience venue as they needed more time for their own RF studies.

For this deployment, the FBI coordinated with the City of San Francisco to install Internet access at the corner of Washington and Embarcadero using their municipal fiber network, while the FBI arranged for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to pull Internet service to their garage at 50 Main Street. From these two locations, Parallel Wireless would be able to cover the entire NFL Experience venue.

The network was managed by HetNet Gateway (HNG) RAN orchestrator from Parallel Wireless. Network management and orchestration capabilities enabled by HNG allowed this network to be self-configuring and self-optimizing so as to provide a more seamless experience for public safety users. HNG also enables the network to be configured in minutes which is crucial for real-work disaster scenarios in which every second is valuable.

Staying true to the FirstNet goal of a national network, this band 14 deployment also incorporated network elements that were located far from the venue itself (as may be the case for a mission-critical band 14 network). Harris County (Houston) Texas offered to support the exercise with their Ericsson EPC located on the campus of Texas A&M University. The Ericsson EPC was ‘fronted’ with the HetNet Gateway which allows hundreds of nodes to join the network easily and without adding complexity. The EPC in Harris County had already been configured as it was previously used to enable in-building coverage for a FirstNet board meeting back in December. To provide resilience against backhaul interruptions, Parallel Wireless also brought along an embedded EPC which allowed us to support the network even if there was no backhaul.

Rather than requiring bulky, expensive, and cumbersome tower equipment (complete with AC units, backup power generators, a 40’ tower, etc.) the Parallel Wireless solution was able to provide coverage for the entire venue with just two briefcase-sized CWS’ mounted 10 feet up on a tower provided by the FBI. Using XP-7 rugged handsets provided by Sonim Technologies, public safety users were able to connect to these CWS’ to access broadband voice and data. As an added bonus, there was even one Sonim device broadcasting the scene LIVE from the FBI tower using the band 14 network! Enabled by Mutualink’s interoperability system, this network also demonstrated how FirstNet will be able to deliver broadband voice and data for law enforcement by using both LMR and LTE networks.

In addition to providing interoperability between LMR and LTE, this network is also interoperable with any radio vendor, backhaul provider, service provider, device manufacturer, and any other network component provider. This is essential for FirstNet since interoperability across all network elements is the only way a nationwide public safety network can become a reality. In addition, by using all commodity components, this was all done at significantly reduced costs.

This live band 14 network (approved by the FCC) demonstrated ease of deployment and maintenance while also meeting every element required to achieve a national public safety broadband network:

  • Interoperability between agencies
  • Flexible backhaul options
  • Resilient coverage for voice and data
  • Use of commodity devices
  • Communication from LMR to LTE

We are truly grateful for all who participated in this deployment and helped make such a milestone possible. Thank you to Harris County, Sonim, Mutualink, BAYRICS, Department of Homeland Security, and FirstNet for helping us to reimagine public safety LTE at The Big Game!