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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

‘Cell Tower In A Suitcase’ – Brought To You By AT&T

April 25, 2011

Small, portable cellular antennas allowing customers to have their own wireless coverage in remote or disaster-struck areas will be, for the first time, sold to corporate and government customers by AT&T.

In any disaster, whether man-made or natural, cellphone companies restore service by deploying their own trucks to the area to act as mobile cell towers, reports the AP.

With AT&T’s new product, first responders like police and emergency workers can immediately control the coverage area.

“In the pivotal first minutes of a natural or man-made disaster, AT&T Remote Mobility Zone provides a solution to help maintain critical mobile communications,” says Chris Hill, AT&T vice president of Advanced Mobility Solutions.  “With AT&T Remote Mobility Zone, users can set up a cell site in less than 30 minutes.”

According to AT&T, more than $600 million has been invested for this Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program. This includes funds for specially trained managers, engineers and technicians from across the United States in addition to more than 320 self-contained equipment trailers and support vehicles that house equipment and components similar to AT&T’s data-routing or voice-switching center.

Presently, AT&T is offering two options ““ the “Fly-away” solution for government use and the Fixed-site solution for enterprises and businesses.

The “Fly-away” solution is a unit that packs into a suitcase that has a separate satellite dish and requires an outside power source such as a generator to work. These “portable cell towers” can also mount to a car or truck, and is independent of broadband service.

“The “Fly-away” solution packs a small cell site into a suitcase, offering first responders an easy-to-use, transportable system that can bring voice and data coverage to an area where disaster has knocked out communication channels. These small cell sites can extend connectivity up to one half of a mile in any direction from the suitcase site.  Created for use by police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders, the Fly-away AT&T Remote Mobility Zone option is currently available to government agencies and personnel,” according to AT&T’s website.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that AT&T’s Remote Mobility Zone can handle up to 14 simultaneous calls and data at less-than-broadband speeds.

The second option is the Fixed-site deployment solution, where a mounted cell site for use as a backup communications system or as a primary network in zones without wireless network coverage is established. This includes the ability for smartphones to talk directly to satellites, and can be used with any AT&T phone, reports AP.

“Customers that choose to protect their communications with AT&T Remote Mobility Zone can use their existing AT&T handsets with all three of the solutions listed above,” states AT&T.

“Additionally, in disaster or emergency conditions, AT&T Remote Mobility Zone clients with AT&T Wireless Priority Service can choose to prioritize certain cellular traffic to ensure that key personnel can access the network.”

AT&T Remote Mobility Zone is available in the vital first minutes of a disaster. The company says that it is always on and uses VSAT and PSTN connectivity.

The fully managed service uses a cellular spectrum that is automatically managed by AT&T. Potential interference is detected and the service assigns the radio frequency with the lowest interference level, says the company. There is also an optional satellite service that AT&T hosts and manages.

Cost for these units will range anywhere from $15,000 to $45,000, say the company. There will also be some monthly fees associated with the service.

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Source: newswire