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Enterprise Control System
2014-11-23 - The Benefits of a Sovereign Data Network


A comparison is made of the use of the relative merits of using a dedicated COFDM data network such as that available from ECS versus the use of 3G or 4G from a Mobile telephone network.
At first sight  the use of 3G/4G from a mobile service provider has the following advantages:-
Coverage Area.  COFDM has a finite range capability, defined by the frequency of the equipment,
        data-rate, antenna types and, dependent on radio line of sight.  Use of the Mobile Telephone Network
        is only limited by areas of coverage of the mobile network.
Initial Price. COFDM has a much higher initial equipment price then a system using the Mobile
        Telephone Network 
Frequency Allocation.  COFDM requires its own dedicated band plan
        However the advantages of COFDM include:-
Infrastructure Independence.  COFDM is infrastructure independent.  Video footage via the Mobile
        Telephone Network is reliant on 3rd party infrastructure
Security.  Mobile technology is connected to Internet Protocol networks; as such, any encryption
        hosted on mobile-connected equipment is subject to hacking threats.
Denial of Service.  Denial of Service attacks of the mobile network .
Ongoing Costs.  COFDM is free to transmit.  Mobile Network Providers will charge for data usage.  
        (e.g. A single SD picture at 5.5 Mbps is 2.5GB/hr)
Image Quality.  The data-rate of 3G and 4G can never be guaranteed; data-rate reduces with cell
        phone velocity and the number of cell phones in the local vicinity. Loop testing and variable
        compression techniques are used to determine maximum data-rate.  In high mobile phone usage
        areas, the data-rate may reduce below that considered acceptable for surveillance imagery.  In
        extreme cases, the mobile network may crash.  Surveillance operations are normally required in
        areas of high mobile phone usage.  
        COFDM is fixed data-rate and fixed image quality without this limitation
Deployment.  3G does not provide sufficient data-rate at helicopter operational speeds to support
        video, so this capability is limited to 4G coverage areas
Consistency of Performance.  Performance of a video over 3G/4G system is dependent upon data-
        rate available.  Data-rate is affected by the number of other phone uses in the vicinity.  The use of the
        network can never be known.  As such, performance of a video over 3G/4G solution is not
        Operational performance cannot be predicted reliably.  COFDM has defined range with consistent
Certification.  No EASA/FAA approved equipment exists for transmitting imagery via the mobile
        telephone network
Regulation.  ETSI legally restricts the usage of SIM cards to ground level.  This is mobile phone
        registration and handover (AT command set) between the mobile phone and Base Station Transceiver
        (BST) being at the same level.  The mobile phone being at higher level may cause the mobile network
        to crash due to the BST incorrectly allocating timing arc and sector information due to the angle
        between phone and BST.  Note in commercial aviation, mobile phones may be switched on above
        3000 m but must be prevented to communicate directly to the BST, instead via an on-board pico-cell
        satellite backhaul.
        History has shown that in the event of a 7/7 or 9/11 type attack one of the first infrastructures that is
        completely overloaded is that of the mobile telephone infrastructure. An independent COFDM
        network, particularly in the guise of air to ground video and data links provides the most secure and
        independent way of delivering crucial C2I situational awareness.
        CJF/CJB 2014