Rapidly Deployed Telecoms
Complete telecoms solution in ruggedized portable unit.
Advanced bonded telecoms solution wherever you need it – Disaster Recovery, Events, Temporary offices and Construction sites. Use as main connectivity or as a back-up.
Comms365 is a unique Internet Service Provider. Unique in the fact that it is able to offer both mobile data services and fixed line data services via its next generation core network infrastructure. The business was used to providing data connectivity solutions to customers of all sizes and embraced the rapidly expanding M2M (Machine to Machine) market back in 2009. By providing mobile data SIMs from the main network operators, along with a fixed IP address, Comms365 was able to offer advanced remote monitoring and device management solutions. The Comms365 network contains a number of technical enhancements that enables connections from multiple sources such as ADSL and FTTC through to 3G/4G and Ethernet to be combined to create resilient, faster data connections. By combining the bandwidth of a number of connections and controlling the latency with network tools, a very reliable and stable superfast connection can be established. This type of service is typically known as bonding. The difference here is the fact that everything is delivered over the Comms365 network. This provides a huge amount of control and enables the business to design complex network solutions. This type of solution has been embraced by businesses that have typically suffered from poor connectivity at their chosen locations, enabling Comms365 to carve a niche in the market as a supplier to come to when traditional connectivity just doesn’t deliver what is needed. Comms365 has now worked across a large number of different vertical markets where connectivity is mission critical to businesses and where downtime can mean significant losses, or even worse, loss of contracts entirely, to provide reliable connectivity where it is needed. The Comms365 product teams were convinced that designing a solution that allowed customers to ‘drop in’ superfast, reliable and scalable connectivity within 24 hours (or less) was something that was desperately required. It was decided that the company should look at its bonding capability and network design experience and develop an innovative turnkey solution to solve these common problems. The result was Comms365 Continuum, a Fully Portable Office Communications in a Box solution that utilises whatever 3G or 4G connectivity is available in any location. It takes connectivity from multiple mobile providers and bonds the connectivity together, controls the throughput and delivers an instant office. This office network is capable of running Laptops, IP Phones and Printers and can securely connect back to any main corporate network and can all be delivered next day. What’s more, customers can even use their own SIMs if they want to and Continuum can still be configured to bond the combined bandwidth. The service comes with fixed public (or private) IPs as standard. Once the concept had been scoped, the next phase was to research and develop, test and select each component part that would result in the best product to do the job. Given that Comms365 Continuum has a large number of potential combinations, the secret was to identify the most common requirements and standardise on a model that would offer the most versatility. The key component of the solution is a small server. This server acts as the brain and is what the bonded application is installed onto. A number of servers were tested in order to reach the final version. Each server was evaluated on size, performance, ruggedness and overall throughput. The next components are the 3G or 4G routers of which up to five can be added into the solution depending on the overall speed that is required. The business settled on an industrial 4G unit built by Conel. This unit was chosen primarily for its performance, but also its form factor. It has a slots for two SIM cards and is made from aluminium. By having five 4G routers in this solution, five SIMs from across the different mobile operators, can be bonded together to achieve much faster speeds. Further, by incorporating routers with two SIM slots each, the solution can actually be set up in such a way as to take 10 SIMs and have them failing over between themselves should bandwidth on a particular operator become adversely affected due to contention. This is a seamless action and users are not even aware that this connectivity resolution is happening for them. The next phase was to identify a case in which to build the solution. Initially decisions were made to find a light-weight flight case and build the solution into it. A 4U case was found and the server and routers were installed into it. As this first prototype was a 4G option, it required antenna to be attached, two for each router and with five routers, this meant 10 antenna sticking out of the top. This first prototype was tested by a large multi-national energy company for ruggedness and durability when out in the field and was taken overseas to locations where there was limited connectivity. The results of the test were mixed. Although speed and ease of use were cited as extremely good, the look, feel and overall durability were deemed to be less so. It was at this point that the business identified a requirement from certain customers to be able to add in a firewall, switch and Wi-Fi into the hub case. With this in mind, it was decided that rather than try to build the devices into an existing case, a new custom-made case should be designed in order to house all the equipment safely. Working with a leading Flight Case manufacturer a 6U Case was designed, with pull out trays, purpose designed antenna compartment, space for built in Firewall and Switch. The case also has these design features - waterproof, drop proof, carry handles and wheels so it can be pulled along. What we have now is not just Portable Office Communications in a box but, more so a Server Room in a box. This Communication Hub has solid state servers and routers, recessed sockets on the outside for both power and Ethernet. The whole box can be run fully sealed which makes it perfect for using in locations more exposed to the elements , like construction sites, events and environmental projects. Since launching the Comms365 Continuum service, the Communication Hubs have been deployed to numerous sites and the feedback has been extremely positive. One multi-national construction/utilities company is now deploying this solution as its primary new site communications mechanism, a second is evaluating the hub with a potential to roll out to approximately 80 of their sites. A major energy provider has also invested in the hubs in order to incorporate resilience into their disaster recovery programme. The service was even used (in its early days) to provide the communications link for the World Curling Federation event in Dumfries. Continuum was used to stream the event directly to YouTube. These Communications Hubs enable businesses to extend their corporate network to wherever they are in the world and therefore this is a true world-wide solution. The flexibility of being able to use 3G and 4G SIMs, that aren’t tied to the Comms365 network, means companies can deploy the service in whatever country they like and use in-country SIMs (thereby avoiding costly Roaming charges) whilst still receiving a fixed IP delivered by Comms365 to the device.