Home5GOndas Networks targets US defence sector with mission-critical broadband IoT

Ondas Networks targets US defence sector with mission-critical broadband IoT

Ondas Networks has announced a deal with systems integration firm Rogue Industries to sell its mission-critical IoT platform to US government and defence markets, including for military drones and unmanned aircraft. The company said the pair will “leap-frog over commercial wireless technology [to] bring new [mission critical IoT] capabilities and applications” to US government agencies using various government spectrum bands.

California-based Ondas Networks, formerly called Full Spectrum, is offering wide-area private networks based on proprietary cellular for so-called mission critical IoT (MC-IoT), including to run in its own 700 MHz spectrum in certain regions in the US. It is targeting mission-critical users that require reliable and secure cellular, often across challenging geographic and radio terrains.

Notably, it is targeting railways, the aviation sector, energy utilities, oil and gas companies, and various government entities. Its FullMAX radio platform supports private cellular-based field-area broadband MC-IoT networks, which overcome the bandwidth limitations of “legacy private licensed wireless networks”, the company says. 

Its FullMAX system supports the new IEEE 802.16s standard for private industrial networks, pushed through by electric utilities and telecoms manufacturers as a modified frequency agnostic version of the old IEEE 802.16 WiMAX standard to operate in narrower channel sizes, ranging from 100 kHz up to 1.25 MHz.

The IEEE 802.16s version, published in 2017, also claims reduced network overheads for max throughputs in narrower channels, compared with WiMAX, and also LTE, which both require channel sizes greater than 1.25 MHz — “which aren’t readily available to industrial users or are too costly”, according to Ondas Networks. 

Proprietary and unlicensed alternatives have risked being discontinued, or else being undermined by interference and security issues, it said. By turn, pricey commercial cellular-based solutions have lacked bespoke controls for security, availability, reliability, and latency. The company said: “Until recently, no wireless technology standard had been implemented specifically for industrial and mission critical users.” 

Writing in a blog, Kathy Nelson, director of technical product marketing at Ondas Networks, commented: “Networks that are built to the IEEE 802.16s standard implement point to multi-point coverage for MC-IoT technologies used for monitoring and controlling operations. They are highly secure, application agnostic networks with the capability to create different levels of service and prioritization based on the device and application. 

“In the event of a natural disaster, a general outage or a cyber threat which could compromise network communications, networks built to the IEEE 802.16s standard offer a greater priority since they are owned and operated by the mission-critical entity.”

In mid-2019, Ondas Networks acquired a tranche of spectrum at 700 MHz in the state of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as certain coastal counties in Texas and Louisiana, in order to furnish new private cellular network deployments with its MC-IoT systems. The firm has said it plans to build national coverage in the US, offering mission-critical private mobile and fixed wireless with a flexible service model, geared towards each customer. 

The deal with Rogue Industries will see the US defence agencies deploy new private cellular systems, using the FullMax portfolio, in multiple spectrum bands, licensed via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which have so far been occupied with legacy wireless technologies.

Rogue Industries, presented as an “expert in defence procurement”, specializes across a broad field of communications and weapon systems technologies including working with US Special Operations Command, FEMA, the US Army, US Air Force, US Army Corps of Engineers and the Defense Innovation Unit.

The deal puts it in position to “leverage dedicated resources to focus on the US government and defence marketspace, including multiple on-going near-term and future initiatives within the government that would benefit from Ondas’ next generation technology”, said Ondas Networks.

Eric Brock, chief executive at Ondas Networks, said: “We are eager to leverage Rogue’s procurement expertise in the US government and defence markets, where successful contracting is a unique skill. We believe there is a significant market for our software-based radio platform based on prior interest from US government entities and defence contractors. Rogue provides the required experience to allow us to effectively market, sell, and support mission-critical government markets.”

David Fondacaro, chief executive at Rogue Industries, said: “We believe multiple US government entities can greatly benefit from deploying Ondas’ mission-critical wireless networking platform [for] unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) capabilities.”

The upper 700 MHz ‘A-block’ spectrum, which Ondas Networks sub-lets to FullMax users, is suited for electric and natural gas utilities, commercial and passenger rail companies, and oil and gas exploration and production firms. The company has deployed with a railroad operator in the Wasilla/Cottonwood region of Alaska for mission-critical wayside connectivity; Alaska-based utility Homer Electric Association has been trialling the FullMAX technology for SCADA connectivity to portions of the electric grid in the Kenai Peninsula.

In the Gulf of Mexico, its customers include internet service provider TISD in Victoria and Calhoun Counties and Louisiana Radio Communications in Cameron Parish. The latter navigates marine pilot boats to port in Lake Charles. Ondas Networks is also negotiating to obtain additional tower assets in the Gulf of Mexico to establish mission-critical IoT services for fixed rig and mobile vessel connectivity.

It has also won contracts to deploy private LTE networks for two major railroads in North America, without revealing the identity of the customers. It said it had fulfilled a purchase order from a Class 1 railroad for the deployment of its FullMAX software-defined radio (SDR) in 125 kHz of spectrum in the 900 MHz licensed frequency band. It has also deployed the final phase of a field trial with another Class 1 railroad, also using its FullMAX SDR platform in the 900 MHz frequency band.

Siemens struck a deal last year with the firm to range its radio systems under its own brand in North America, as part of its offer to the railroad sector. The arrangement is an exclusive one, with the pair collaborating on private narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) in the rail sector in North America.

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