In a recent article, we discussed the changing communications landscape of the public emergency management sector. This covered trends like end users’ evolving data and communication needs, the limitations of traditional networks to meet these needs and how natural disasters further disrupt communication channels. Together, these three factors can severely inhibit the preparedness and on-site effectiveness of response teams in achieving mission-critical goals. 

In that article, we also recommended what service providers can do to overcome these limitations for end users. In this piece, we’ll dive into how to go about doing so.

FlexGround: Creating an Office Anywhere

When it comes to the evolution of land mobile solutions, Intelsat General’s FlexGround is the next step forward for rapid deployment network connectivity. This innovative satcom technology bridges the technology gap caused by the limitations of traditional networks.

The combination of a global network with small yet high-speed terminals lets end users easily create a connected outdoor office anywhere they need it. Additionally, dependable data plans mean response teams don’t have to worry about costly fixed-offering data rates with use-it-or-lose-it features.

A Global Network

Restoring communications after a natural disaster is a top priority for emergency response teams. Since traditional communications infrastructure like cell phone towers and terrestrial networks often go down during disasters, FlexGround provides the always-on connectivity to keep communication channels intact.

Intelsat’s global Ku-band HTS network provides true broadband connectivity when and where it’s needed. It accomplishes this by leveraging the largest fleet of Ku-band network and high throughput satellites (HTS) to deliver a layered network. Since Ku-band spot beams are tightly focused, these beams can transmit high data rates and utilize advanced interference mitigation capabilities. This ensures fast, ubiquitous and secure connectivity with high data rates.

The sheer size of the Intelsat satellite fleet means more high-performance spot beams, which further strengthens the network with multi-layered, resilient infrastructure. This allows team members in any given region to immediately access data rates up to 10Mpbs x 3Mbps, three times the speed of similarly priced plans on other networks.

For personnel on the ground, this translates to smaller antennas with faster speeds that can be quickly activated.

Wide Range of COTP, COTM and ManPack Options

No two emergency events are the same, which means responders need to have versatile options at their disposal for maximum preparedness. This is why FlexGround has been engineered to be compatible with a variety of compact ground terminals, for easily deployable Manpack, Communications-on-the-Move (COTM), Communications-on-the-Pause (COTP) and Fixed options.

ManPack: These portable flat-panel antennas with integrated modems support speeds up to 10 x 3Mbps per terminal. Setup only takes about a minute with an easy-to-use LCD interface. Battery power provides up to three-hour transmit time. The lightweight terminal can be quickly deployed with quick and easy self-commissioning. 

COTM: Vehicle-mounted terminals for true comms-on-the-move, supporting speeds up to 5 x 2Mbps maximum information rate (MIR), with always-on connectivity and global coverage.  

COTP: Smaller antennas with VSAT-like performance but greater portability that deliver speeds up to 10 x 3Mbps. These come in an assortment of different sizes, ranging from 60cm to 1.3m for additional adaptability.

Fixed:  These 1.2m antennas are designed for long-term deployment, with coverage provided by latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates. Even though the satellite is fixed, portability is allowed.

Services options for these antennas include unlimited or monthly fixed GB packages for extended missions, or usage-based on-demand services that can be used for emergency responses that have limited duration.

FlexGround utilizes a user-friendly customer portal, which provides rapid onboarding, monitoring and configuration changes. The simplicity and versatility means that no matter the use case, there’s a wide range of options in sizes, portability and pricing to meet the ever-growing needs of emergency management teams.

Flexible and Affordable Data Rates

When it comes to emergency response management, a dependable and affordable data plan can be the difference between being properly prepared and being a step behind. However, current per-minute rates for satcom solutions are costly, and still only provide limited speeds.

The nature of emergency management teams means that a normal schedule involves uncertainty and sporadic cycles of activity. But proper preparedness for rapid response involves having a data plan that overcomes this uncertainty.

That’s why FlexGround offers a range of affordable subscription offerings that are flexible enough for the ever-changing circumstances that confront emergency response teams. This includes pay-as-you-go, monthly prepaid, and unlimited plans. This means state and local emergency management teams have access to dependable data plans that they need to stay prepared for mission-critical disaster-relief efforts.

Flexible Use Cases

Let’s take a look at how various types of emergency response operations might have different needs, each requiring a particular solution.

Smaller coalitions responding to an unexpected disaster need to move quickly. A ManPack that supports data, voice and video on multi-domains can be the perfect solution. With a ManPack, responders can speedily deploy and easily set-up operations, all without all the needless delays caused by having to configure settings or speak with tech support. And with pay-as-you-go and shared data pooling plans, responders don’t have to worry about whether their data plan will be affordable.

Larger response teams deployed to a remote sector for months at a time may need a fixed 1.2-meter dish antenna for a Wi-Fi enabler or telemedicine. They can quickly set up and configure the dish to enjoy fast and secure connectivity. Coupled with an unlimited GB data plan, the dish can provide service for a host of data-intensive activities.

For emergency responders deployed to a remote region with little infrastructure, a COTM terminal allows team members to gain global network access effortlessly while staying mobile and extend communications to first responders in the local vicinity of the vehicle via radios, Wi-Fi, or LTE. The always-on connectivity means responders can set up an office anywhere they need it, without losing network access.

How FlexGround aims to incrementally close the technology gap

As the data and communication needs of emergency management teams evolves, so too must the technology that supports their mission-critical efforts. Service providers supplying government emergency management groups should consider how the limitations of traditional networks hinders end users’ mission-critical goals. FlexGround provides a land mobile solution that moves the needle and helps overcome these limitations.

With access to secure and reliable speeds up to 10Mbps, first responders and emergency teams can remain prepared against the ever-changing landscape they regularly face. At the same time, data plans at only a tenth of the price of other satcom providers means these teams don’t have to worry about high costs or limited coverage.

Want to learn more about how FlexGround delivers the land mobility solution that emergency management teams need to remain prepared in an evolving landscape? Reach out to Intelsat General today.

This article first appeared in EmergencyManagement.com.