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Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service integrate Satellite, 3G and Wi-Fi solution to ensure reliable communication for command units

17 July, 2014

GFRS deploys Peplink routers and access points within a range of emergency response vehicles, trailers and portable units.

In common with most fire services in the UK, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue maintains a command vehicle and several deployable units to provide first responders with access to information and communication services to help manage incidents. These critical ICT systems within command vehicles can range from incident response planning software to accessing detailed digital maps of an area or individual buildings.

Since 2003, computers in the command vehicle have communicated with headquarters and the wider internet using a satellite uplink. However, the satellite system was susceptible to problems if the vehicle was in a location without line-of-sight to the satellite for example in dense urban areas with high rise buildings or in certain geographic areas. Primetech, a supplier to GFRS, suggested Peplink as an innovative solution to the topography problem.

Peplink routers and access points allow Ethernet, Satellite, DSL, Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks to be bonded together forming an aggregated redundant link to increase bandwidth, enhance Internet reliability, and reduce costs.

Rob Lacey, Head of IT, Telecoms and Resilience for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, commented, “The Pepwave technology has proven incredibly useful and allows us to use the most effective communication method without requiring a complex failover or reconfiguration process – this simplicity is essential when we are attending an incident.”

In its main command vehicle, GFRS use a Peplink appliance to manage the connection between two satellite receivers on KA and KU bands and two separate mobile broadband connections from two physically separate providers. The vehicle can also create a separate Wi-Fi network for other users within Civil Protection or other blue light agencies.

GFRS has also deployed Peplink into trailer and suitcase based solutions, giving flexibility in various scenarios for mobile deployment. “The Peplink technology has been incredibly valuable and has improved the usability and resilience of our information and communication systems,” added Lacey.

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