Pepro LLC

October 2013


Did You Know?
Lightning can trigger a volcanic eruption.

In This Issue:

  • Pepro's on the Road
  • News Flash
  • Product Focus – Wireless Pan & Tilt
  • Report from the Field - Boston
  • The Importance of a Resilient and Decentralized Network

Pepro's on the Road

We visited Anaheim, California recently for the 79th Annual APCO International Conference & Expo with the Wireless Pan & Tilt, and Sunset Beach, North Carolina for the NC APCO/NENA Annual Conference. We had a great time connecting with customers past, present and future. If there's a great conference on your calendar, we hope you'll let us know.

Urgent Communications

FirstNet Seeks the Right Mix

With so many disparate factors and moving parts in play, it is difficult to speculate what business model ultimately will be adopted by the FirstNet board. Many believe it is likely that the FirstNet board’s final recipe will incorporate aspects of multiple partnering ideas mentioned by sources interviewed for this story. The one real consensus is that FirstNet will not be successful if it tries to build and maintain the network on its own, and restricts its use solely to police, fire and EMS personnel.

Mission Critical

Verizon and Motorola Offer LTE Modem for Public Safety

If an agency’s private broadband network is ubiquitous enough to support its needs, the agency can then transfer off the Verizon network, he said. The third use case is for agencies that don’t have a private broadband network and are not BTOP recipients, but instead are waiting for FirstNet to be built, which could take years, said Deep Grewal, senior director, sales strategy and business development, Motorola Solutions. For these agencies, they can buy the modem and fully enable it on Verizon’s network. The device wouldn’t roam, instead remaining on the Verizon network full time, until FirstNet services come to their area.

Urgent Communications

Will LTE broadband replace public-safety, mission-critical LMR voice systems in 3-5 years? I don’t think so.

Public-safety agencies across the country have dedicated time and resources to continually improve their land-mobile-radio systems, so they provide the coverage and operational capabilities for voice required in a given locality, region or state. Rather than focusing only on the technology capability of the new broadband network, public safety must examine the overall picture, including technology capability, standardization, degree of coverage and operational capabilities, as tested in the stressed public-safety environment.

Product Focus – the Wireless Pan & Tilt

A recent winner of a Hot Product Award, Pepro’s pan/tilt mechanism is specifically designed for the wireless communication industry. The lightweight, all-aluminum Wireless Controlled Pan & Tilt Directional Antenna Mount from Pepro features a 60° pan range and a 10° tilt range, completely operable through a rugged, watertight, handheld wireless controller.

This product makes it easy to make necessary adjustments in the positioning of directional antennas without the work, cost and risks associated with manual adjustments. A job that either required certified climbers, unsafe ladders and bulky safety harnesses or lowering mobile towers can now be accomplished by anyone on site from the ground, and assure a precise and steady fix on the antenna’s orientation. It withstands winds up to 120 mph and costs substantially less than other self-adjusting antenna systems.

The pan/tilt mechanism is designed to provide fine adjustments without drift, eliminating the need for offset manual shaft adjustments at the antenna. Additionally, the mounting surface is pre-drilled to accommodate various antenna-mounting configurations. Product features include:

• Positive positioning via electric motor
• Four-bolt mounting system
• Stainless steel hardware
• Available for both AC and DC operation
• Water and Dust resistant (IP67) electrical connections
• Rugged, watertight handheld controller

Report from the Field - Boston

If you've been to the 4th of July fireworks from Boston's Hatch Memorial Shell, or even seen them on TV, you've witnessed an event made safer by Pepro's mobile radio site, and you can thank a gusty wind on Cape Cod 10 years ago for the added protection. Elliot Derdak, Communications Systems Engineer at Boston EMS, explains that he went to a conference there to find a rugged mobile shelter that could serve the needs of 61 cities and towns in the greater Boston area.

According to Derdak, a strong wind blew through and all of the vendors exhibiting at the show rushed to bring down their towers, except one. Pepro's articulated tower design meant it could stand when others were in danger of toppling. When you are providing hospital and ambulance communications for more than three million people, you need to be able to withstand a hurricane.

Using a grant from the federal government that covered 75 percent of the cost, Derdak ordered a four-bay trailer with an 85 foot tower and eight base stations installed, at the time the largest Pepro had ever built. "They built it the way we wanted it," he says. The intent was to use the mobile site for planned shared operations events in the metro area that required the services of multiple EMS services. For five years, that included the famous July 4th concert and fireworks display on the Charles River.

The 24kVA generator provides all of the power the unit needs "with plenty of reserve" according to Derdak, and he has never had an issue with operation. Set up typically requires two to four people, "because it never goes out with the same channels in use" he explains, but take down is far easier thanks to the shelter and tower design.

The Hatch Memorial Shell finally has a permanent tower site, so you won't see the Pepro shelter on your television next July, but it's still in use seven years after Boston EMS took delivery. "It's there when we need it," Derdak says. And he can count on it like fireworks on Independence Day.

The Importance of a Resilient and Decentralized Network

The best way to deliver an always available and resilient network uses existing towers and mobile base stations close to first responders. In land-mobile radio (LMR), this was done with in-vehicle repeaters for several reasons, including:

  • Transmission close to the first responder offers the best signal propagation to penetrate school basements, elevator shafts, tunnels or industrial locations.
  • The use of vehicle base stations for backhaul lessens the number of towers needed and subsequently reduces the network’s cost.

This approach can be achieved with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) by establishing more base stations (nodes), each with a smaller footprint (similar to how a BDA operates), and by making base stations low cost but non-interfering. These nodes and their antennas would be mounted on existing public-safety assets, like towers, but also on the roof of a fire station or school, or on a telephone pole.

Low-power base stations can use solar and battery backup to operate without utility power for far longer than today’s LMR nodes. And a network of small base stations can be more resilient than the current macro-cell LMR networks.

Harnessing leading-edge network gear would let FirstNet build its nationwide broadband network for first responders within its budget. If unencumbered by existing carrier networks, and by using mass-market consumer and off-the-shelf components, this network can be built cost effectively.

But here’s the most important point: FirstNet can’t build a network of towers, wired backhaul and a centralized core that is tough enough for the job. It needs to build a network that is resilient and decentralized—and that network does not look anything like the current mobile networks.

FirstNet can’t raise tower wind-loading standards high enough to survive the next Superstorm Sandy. It can’t specify enough days of backup fuel for the generators, nor can it harden backhaul conduits enough.

Instead, FirstNet needs to rethink network design. The new network will require more base stations and antennas than existing networks—but this is affordable when small-cell nodes cost under $3,000.

(Excepted from ""Why a small-cell approach makes sense for FirstNet":," Urgent Communications, by Steve Kropper, Jul. 8, 2013.)