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Customer data shows effectiveness of satellite, LTE & SD-WAN in vehicle use cases

Ken Hosac

Kymeta leverages several tools to display benefits of hybrid network architecture for first responders

The ever-expanding scope of connectivity needs in fleet vehicles continues to be mirrored by exciting in-vehicle networking technologies. One of the most exciting new developments is the ability of multiple WANs to work together with intelligent, software-defined data flow and remote management in vehicles. In use cases ranging from city buses to first responder vehicles, the potential for increased network reliability, flexibility, and performance is vast.

Recently, Cradlepoint customer Kymeta brought together a range of technologies for a demonstration that showed what’s possible for first responder agencies who are perhaps more dependent on constant network access than any other type of organization. Losing access to critical applications during emergencies is unthinkable, yet it happens. With this in mind, Kymeta tried out its hybridization model — combining satellite and cellular networks — with U.S. federal agents to prove the impact of reliable, seamless communications along the southern border of New Mexico.

The Challenges of In-Vehicle Networking for First Responders

Some of the biggest challenges facing first responder fleets are related to network performance and management. Agencies with vehicles spread across widely varying regions often struggle to ensure reliable connectivity and high availability for really important applications.

Once an in-vehicle network’s performance degrades, making onboard configuration changes to troubleshoot Internet downtime or to adjust data flow is very time-consuming, especially for lean IT teams with limited man-hours to spare. Automation of network functions can help address these challenges.

Uniting LTE & Satellite Links in One Solution

Kymeta conducted its hybrid WAN and software-defined technology test in an area where communications are spotty due to frequently degraded network performance.

The tools for this test featuring both LTE and satellite access included:

  • Radios — TrellisWare’s mobile ad-hoc mesh net (MANET) tactical radios
  • Satellite Terminals — Kymeta’s high-throughput terminals for satellite-based Internet access
  • In-Vehicle SD-WAN Routers—Cradlepoint’s cloud-managed SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN) routers for LTE-based Internet access in vehicles

With these tools working cohesively, Kymeta was able to demonstrate the excellent reliability and performance of dynamically blending cellular and satellite connectivity in a moving vehicle.

How SD-WAN in Vehicles Works

Using an SD-WAN solution that was specially designed for vehicles allowed Kymeta’s test agency to benefit from the best-performing WAN at any given time in any given location, based on preset business policies based on factors such as latency and jitter. In cities and towns, LTE might be the best path, while satellite often is the best option in remote areas. The solution automatically and instantly determines which link to use.

In situations where both LTE and satellite are viable WAN options, the in-vehicle SD-WAN solution can intelligently route traffic based on those predetermined policies. This ensures that mission-critical data is always kept on the best-performing WAN path while less-important information is relegated to separate paths whenever network conditions call for such a change.

“The combination of these devices and solutions enabled secure and seamless communications from operators in a field environment to other operators and commanders distributed across the country,” said Ben Posthuma, a senior solutions engineer for Kymeta. “The system automatically and dynamically switched between cellular and satellite to find the best connection quality.”

Additional Benefits of Mobile SD-WAN

Kymeta’s SD-WAN test was a success, as various devices, laptops, drones, cameras, and other tools stayed connected in vehicles — with excellent network performance. The project also was successful because of the flexibility and ease of use provided by Cradlepoint’s platform.

The law enforcement agents didn’t need any knowledge of satellite devices or cellular architecture; their mission-critical devices and applications stayed connected to the WiFi provided through the router, regardless of which WAN was being utilized.

Overall, Kymeta proved that satellite and LTE links can work cohesively in a mobile setting — with automation that boosts performance and cost-efficiency, and with easy integration that doesn’t require an onboard satellite communication expert.

Learn More About All-in-One SD-WAN Solutions

Cradlepoint’s SD-WAN solutions offer increased network flexibility and performance for organizations that have mission-critical applications in both fixed sites and vehicles.

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