Any modern operation that covers a large physical area, such as Sea and Air ports, and Rail yards, experiences complexity in RF communications because there are various diverse frequencies in simultaneous use – RFID, automatic data traffic, navigation aids, traditional voice traffic, mobile phones, radar, Wi-Fi and the explosion in IoT and Machine-to-Machine communications.
Historically, simply allocating different channels and frequencies to different user classes and trusting them to comply was enough, but not anymore and it is clear that simply hoping for the best is no longer a safe or viable option.
When these operational challenges are considered alongside the emergence of malicious or criminal risks, such as Cyber threats, terrorist activity, drones, etc., where attacks can come from anywhere at any time, being able to respond rapidly after an incident is critically important. Being able to detect and prevent an incident before it happens is even better – whether that’s a communications failure, which could have disastrous consequences, or a hostile act.
Having critical communications fail, even for a few seconds, could spell disaster and absence of coverage in the increasingly complex RF landscape is as important as identifying signals that should not be present. So, on top of ensuring the right people are using the right frequencies, in the right place, at the right time, it is also necessary to ensure reliable and complete coverage, because large metal objects like hangars, warehouses, shipping containers, ships, cranes and aircraft can also cause reflections and holes in coverage, that a human-monitored system would never be aware of.
In addition to these expansive environments, complex infrastructures like electricity lines, water or gas pipes, and railway tracks, also rely on efficient and effective communications, stretching over hundreds or thousands of miles across open country. To achieve this safely, these operators rely on access to reliable spectrum for their employees and engineers and equipment to communicate when power lines or equipment fail, rails, signals or points are damaged, or water/gas mains rupture, etc.
In addition to voice communications, in recent years these industries have embraced M-2-M for remote monitoring and management, which must be highly secure, as well as extremely reliable. For this, they have begun to leverage mobile spectrum for electronic meter reading, remote equipment monitoring and management with smart grids, etc.