“Innovation Lab Update” features the latest advances in Syniverse’s demonstration, development and testing center that brings together our customers, partners and other technology players in experimental collaborations.
With Richard Hodges, Director, Innovation Lab
What’s going on in the lab this month?
We’re helping develop an internet connectivity solution for drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones are opening a new era in our ability to remotely collect and transmit data and to retrieve and deliver objects. Not only do they offer quicker, more cost-efficient, and more convenient ways to monitor and manage things, but they can take over jobs considered to be dull, dirty, or dangerous. For example, drones can be used for such things as monitoring and relaying data on crops for large agricultural operations, as well as for inspecting the performance of sensitive industrial plant operations. As a result of this expanding use of these machines, it’s become increasingly crucial that drone communications are kept secure, reliable and compatible with different network coverage areas. This is where Syniverse and our partners come in.
What technology partners is Syniverse working with on this solution?
We’re working with ConnectWhere, a company that specializes in using private LTE network solutions to provide internet connectivity for vehicles like drones, private aircraft, private watercraft, trucks, trains, and agriculture systems. ConnectWhere is providing the main command and control functions for drone communications, including a private LTE transmitter, receiver, modem, and antenna. Syniverse is providing two specific components, our Global IMSI (international mobile subscriber identity) solution, which is a SIM card that allows universal global connectivity and the ability to roam across borders and networks to connect to different networks wherever and whenever they’re on; and our Syniverse Secure Global Access, our private, isolated global network that enables businesses to protect their data from increasing cyberattacks and levels of risk on the public internet.
Separately, I would like to mention that ConnectWhere and its parent company, ColdWhere, were one of the first partners for the Syniverse Innovation Lab, and have been with us since we launched in 2018. Our partnership is going on two years soon, and we’re grateful for their loyalty and commitment to our Lab and its mission.
What is a private LTE network exactly?
Private Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks are localized systems designed to serve specific business, government or educational purposes with optimized features. This technology is enabling communication service providers and businesses to transform the way that they get local mobile connectivity as well as the quality and security of this connectivity. This includes providers, like mobile and cable operators; large campuses and venues, such as schools, airports, and stadiums; and other businesses and multi-dwelling units. These organizations can now set up their very own dedicated mobile networks to take advantage of the considerable benefits enabled through private LTE:
- Higher security and separation from other networks.
- Higher transmission speed.
- Higher data capacity.
- Lower latency (lag time).
- Greater coverage.
- Lower cost of ownership.
- Easier deployment.
- Easier maintenance.
What are some practical uses for this new solution?
There are several applications for the remote operation of drones from what is termed beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), and these use cases are expanding all the time. Many of these involve sensitive commercial data and even national-security information, and it’s crucial that these communications be kept secure, their ability to communicate at all times be kept reliable, and the speed, latency, and data capacity of their communications be kept consistent. Private LTE offers precisely the superior reach, performance and security needed to do this.
Here some common drone applications today, and ones that the Syniverse and ConnectWhere drone solution will be able to serve:
- Express shipping and delivery.
- Disaster management surveillance and rescue operations.
- Search and rescue operations.
- Geographic mapping of inaccessible terrain and locations.
- Building safety inspections.
- Precision crop monitoring.
- Unmanned cargo transport.
- Storm tracking and forecasting of hurricanes and tornadoes.
- Law enforcement and border control surveillance.
- Military operations.
What are the next steps in developing the solution?
Our next steps are to finish our testing, make final modifications, and determine a date and plan to go to market.
This project builds on some big achievements we made in private LTE in the Lab last year. These achievements included teaming with Ruckus Networks and Federated Wireless to develop a private, high-speed, highly secure wireless network at Syniverse’s headquarters in Tampa. Through that project and others at the Lab, we’ve been able to gain firsthand experience in planning, building, and deploying private LTE networks, and we look forward to applying this knowledge to our work with partners and customers in helping them set up this type of network.
To learn more about the Lab, visit our Innovation Lab site.