Police target 10% savings with wireless Wan

Lancashire Police has invested £2.5m in a wireless wide area network (WWan), in a move which it believes will bring savings of...

Lancashire Police has invested £2.5m in a wireless wide area network (WWan), in a move which it believes will bring savings of 5%-10% on network costs and future-proof its infrastructure.

The system will allow the force to run its communications for a fixed annual fee of £55,000, payable to the Radiocommunications Authority. The microwave-based transmission method will link sites as far as 20 miles apart and provide up to 155mbps throughput.

The lack of cable or fibre infrastructure means that, should bandwidth demands increase, network upgrades can be brought about by changes to the transceivers at the police force's sites.

This type of network would also be suitable for businesses wishing to send voice, data and video traffic between sites. It is necessary to have a line of sight between the locations, but booster stations can take the signal around "corners".

Unlike wireless local area networks, which use various unlicensed radio frequencies, WWans use microwave transmissions. The power levels and frequencies used are regulated by the Radiocommunications Authority, which also determines the rules on the physical location of equipment.

WWans also do not operate using IEEE networking standards, modulation types are governed by equipment manufacturers.

Lancashire Police is using its WWan to replace all of its fixed networks for voice and data, including Internet traffic and access to local and national databases. It will also link into the Airwave police radio system.

The force will connect 55 police sites and provide 155mbps on the backbone, with 34mbps out to divisional headquarters and 8mbps to local stations. Previously local stations only had 64kbps ISDN connections.

Kep Simcox, project manager for Lancashire Police, said, "The big advantage is that you are getting a greater amount of bandwidth for your money than with leased lines or fibre. We anticipate a 5%-10% saving when compared with the alternatives over a 10-year period. We will also save on infrastructure costs, with any changes merely needing replacement of the radio link between stations."

What will the Lancashire WWan support?
  • E-mail and intranet deployment

  • Implementation of new applications involving browser-based access and imaging, and national crime-fighting applications such as Holmes 2 (Home Office Large Major Enquiry System)

  • Implementation of additional and replacement desktops placing increased demand on the network

  • Remote desktop management and application delivery

  • Integration of BT Airwave police radio service

  • Increased demand for voice traffic

  • Intra-constabulary communications, extranet communication and communications with external agencies

  • Videoconferencing and closed-circuit television.

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