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When Important Becomes Critical - Infrastructure Safety and Security

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA.gov), there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are “top priority” in terms of protection. These assets are considered so vital to the country that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on physical security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof. Such facilities include: dams, bridges, chemical and petroleum plants, nuclear and other energy facilities, water and waste water works and transportation systems.

The CISA works with state and municipal government entities where these facilities are located, in terms of network and cybersecurity requirements and “best practices.” Part of the CISA recommendations pertain to broadband requirements for surveillance network support. Local governments use a variety of sensors, cameras and even radar to secure these facilities. And video by far is the biggest consumer of broadband in this effort.

It is for this reason that many municipalities in countries around the world are upgrading their current public safety networks (PSN), and given the rapid march towards 5G, many municipalities are opting to configure their PSNs as mission critical broadband systems – and those systems operating over the high-bandwidth “millimeter wave” frequencies look particularly attractive.

 

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For instance, most video surveillance networks are transitioning to HD, or if they are already HD, they are moving up to 4K video. In addition, the transition from analog to IP cameras is creating a huge increase in the size of the video streams to the network operations center. With the advent of 4K and multi sensor cameras and analytics, the need for clear, high quality transmission is pushing data rates as high as 40Mbps per camera. Fiber optic lines certainly have the capacity to transmit this traffic, but given that these cameras are deployed in hard to reach places, fiber just cannot connect everything.

It has been noted often recently that 5G promises to offer greater capacity, reduced latency and faster speeds – think gigabits per second rather than the megabytes of LTE networks. Critical infrastructures, transport systems and IoT enabled smart homes are bound to be run on top of 5G networks, but what frequencies -- or which 5G -- will work better – mobile or fixed spectrum? Fixed 5G solutions are a perfect fit for these use cases offering multi gigabit speeds, virtually zero interference now and in the future, and rugged mission critical design and construction of the radios.

For instance, within mobile 5G the lower band frequencies are often tied up in regulatory red tape or are the sole province of the large mobile network operators. And these restrictions apply as well to the newly allocated mmWave bands of 28 and 38GHz. But there’s another way to deliver Gigabit wireless connectivity to support the security of this critical infrastructure – the fixed 5G mm wave bands of 60 and 70/80GHz.

Systems operating in these bands feature Gigabit connection speeds and mission critical “single digit millisecond latency.” Radios in this band offer flexible deployment options, ruggedized housing to stand up to the elements and secure transmission capability – as hacking into mm wave channels is not a trivial matter. But perhaps the most attractive feature of these bands is that they are open (e.g., no regulatory red tape) and available to anyone, now.

 

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