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Ensuring The Nation’s Largest Land Mobile Radio Networks are Always Connected

 

Summary:

  • Engage IPTube is an important component in many of the emergency satellite networks ODN, Inc. operates for first responders and public agencies throughout the Midwest and Southeast. 
  • IPTube combines hardware and software to handle narrow timing parameters, compression, buffering, and framing challenges. 
  • Ensures IP connectivity for some of the busiest Land Mobile Radio networks in the United States, such as the Louisiana Department of Public Safety

 

The IPTube product is sophisticated and reliable, and is the only component that has never failed in the seven years we’ve been operating our LMR satellite backup solution in multiple states.”

- Greg Heifner
   President
   ODN, Inc.

It Started with Katrina

Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 was an emphatic wakeup call for public service and first responder agencies throughout the United States. The scale of destruction and the huge demand for emergency services in the immediate aftermath forced agencies to reassess how to ensure reliable first responder communications.

In Spring 2006, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety published an RFP for a satellite-based network capable of supporting high-speed data and voice communications in regions affected by a disaster or terrestrial connectivity failure.

 

Louisiana DPS Hurricane Gustav Truck-640X480

The Department’s preferred solution was a secure network incorporating point-to-point satellite hardware. The operational requirements were emergency Land Mobile Radio (LMR) connectivity, as well as satellite back up to the Baton Rouge Data Center for IP-based data networks originating at remote locations.

ODN, Inc. won the bid over many other companies with a uniquely engineered approach to the use of satellite communications to restore damaged LMR systems. The ODN solution uses specialized VSAT antennas that can provide direct point-to-point connectivity to a state’s LMR network, anywhere. Each VSAT corresponds to a master VSAT unit at the state’s network operation center and communicates to first responder locations and to mobile radio units in the field when no other communication asset still exists after a disaster.

Emergency Communications in Joplin MO-640X420

Deployment in the Field

One of the most important components of ODN’s network is the IPTube product from Engage Communication. LMR systems are typically very sensitive and require specific timing parameters. Buffering, framing, and compression challenges are other factors that make ODN’s technical requirements far beyond the capabilities of typical satellite or T1 interfaces. The IPTube successfully handles all of them.

“There’s a lot of software in the Engage IPTube that allowed us to solve some critical problems,” recalls ODN President Greg Heifner. “We found it to be a very stable and dependable product that we could plug into our network, especially when we needed customized T1 interfaces.”

 

From Katrina to Missouri and Beyond

ODN has leveraged the success of its Louisiana experience to sell similar satellite networks to first responders and public safety agencies in Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, and Minnesota. So far, they have handled hundreds of thousands of 911 calls. As Heifner notes, Engage’s IPTubes have been there for everyone.

“We’ve made good use of all of the functionality that Engage has incorporated into its products. The IPTube product is both sophisticated and reliable, and has helped us solve some critical communication challenges.”

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Organization:
ODN (Orbital Data Net), Inc
 
Profile:
Provides satellite-based communication solutions for military, federal, state, and corporate clients.