A paramedic working alone in an ambulance car is called to an incident in a large shopping mall.
As he makes his way to the incident the medical records of the patient concerned are sent to his NHS tablet which is connected to an AlbeePro-Nomad Router in the car. The router is connected securely and directly back to the local NHS Trusts enterprise network at the hospital, so the patient records are never exposed to the ‘raw Internet’. Although the car is moving fast, the AlbeePro connection is unaffected as its multiple LTE connections are managed between cell sites along the route.
On arrival at the scene the paramedic retrieves his ‘crash bag’ from the boot of the car and tucks the AlbeePro-Nomad Router and his tablet into the side pocket. He then proceeds through the shopping mall on foot to the incident. At the scene he administers immediate assistance and stabilises the patient while reading the medical records.
After preparing the patient for a move to an incoming ambulance the paramedic makes a secure video call on his NHS tablet to the local hospital to discuss the patient’s condition with the duty doctor in A & E, this allows the hospital to fully prepare for the arrival of the patient.
The ambulance is now only a few miles away, but the shopping mall is large, and its access is complex. So, the paramedic asks the shopping mall security guard at the scene where the closest vehicle access point to the incident is. The security guard points to a goods loading bay on a Google map on the paramedic’s tablet, the paramedic then sends the location pin by private chat to the ambulance. At the same time, he calls them on a live video feed to explain to the ambulance co-driver how to get to the incident from the loading bay.
During the journey to the hospital all of the biometric data generated by the ambulances systems are automatically fed securely, and in real-time to the hospital network by the AlbeePro Pinion router fitted into the ambulance. This allows the A&E staff to ‘log in’ and observe the patients’ medical condition as and when needed.
The stable, secure and fast broadband connection also allows the ambulance crew and the doctor in A&E to collaborate and monitor the patient in transit via a high definition video link as and when required, and this also gives the A&E staff a constantly updated ETA.
Managing and maintaining critical national infrastructure and industrial assets is an expensive and manpower intensive activity. Often the deployed systems are complex and require multiple ‘experts’ in differing technologies and processes to be on hand to ensure safety and maintenance.
The use of remote experts is a growing activity which is meeting these challenges, enabling standard maintenance crews to digitally reach back to the relevant experts for guidance and advice.
A maintenance team employed by a national oil and gas company has been deployed to a number of well head sites and a pipeline route to carry out routine infrastructure and HSE inspections. The vehicle bound two-man team is equipped with an AlbeePro-Nomad bonded router and a HD Video Camera. The mobile router provides a high throughput, stable and secure connection for the team whether on the move or halted. The router is securely connected via multiple local LTE connections back to the company’s main operations room where the connection is terminated on an ‘exit node’. This ensures that the connection between the maintenance team and the operations room is end to end encrypted and at no time is any data exposed to the Internet or any public infrastructure.
On arrival at the various sites there are a number of checks to be made such as perimeter fence integrity, and the general condition of the systems and equipment. As they inspect the installations a full video record is made and backhauled in real-time to the company’s operations centre.
In the operations centre a team of system and process experts including process engineers, building surveyors, senior operations managers and HSE staff monitor this and many other deployed maintenance team feeds. They are on standby to engage digitally with the deployed maintenance engineers to provide advice and to assess and deal with operational or maintenance issues.
The team is diverted during the day to an accident where a civilian vehicle has collided with the perimeter fence of one of the pipeline pumping stations. The fence has been dislodged and has damaged part of the installations solar power array. On arrival the team video calls the operations room and uses the HD video camera to send live video of the incident. This allows the duty power engineers and construction experts to assess the damage in real time and make immediate decisions on how to deal with the incident to make it safe.
As the COVID19 crisis unfolded, the executives of a London Bank realised that a greater reliance on home working was inevitable. However, they were uncomfortable allowing their employees to connect company IT via home or public internet connections in order to establish secure VPN connectivity into the corporate network.
They found the answer in the AlbeePro Pinion and Nomad routers. Issuing the AlbeePro routers to their employees gave them the same level of connected security as that of a small branch office. The routers, when switched on establishes 3 x secure VPN connections back to the AlbeeConnect server located in the banks London HQ corporate network.
Once established the high throughput, secure and stable bonded connection is extended to the employees’ corporate laptop or device at their remote location. This meant that at no time was the employees’ laptop or device exposed to the ‘raw’ Internet.
Each employee was issued with a either a Pinion for static use, or a Nomad router for staff who travelled as part of their job. This allowed the London based corporate network to be securely extended into their home offices or temporary work location (hotel, airport, train etc) independently of existing infrastructure.
The AlbeePro-Nomad Router is the only truly mobile bonded router device available on the market and provides the same level of connected business assurance when the employee is travelling as the Pinion when located in a static environment.
The need for individuals or organisations to connect back to secure government or military networks while travelling or working on the move has been a challenge for many years. Some organisations like the FCO for instance use off-the-shelf MiFi devices, but these provide poor connectivity when network coverage is limited, do not work on the move and are susceptible to eavesdropping and cyber-attack.
Some departments accept the high cost of current bonding technology, but bonded mobility is currently just too expensive for general use. Another drawback of the current available technology is the fact that it has to be withdrawn from operations after a short ‘use life’ (sometimes as short as 6 months) because of the threat of the devices being tracked by their fixed International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) or International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers.
AlbeePro-Nomad addresses all of the current shortfalls in connected mobility for Government and Military. The system is priced sensibly and can be purchased as a managed service. The device is fully mobile, and will function anywhere in the world, providing a secure, high throughput and stable connection back to the UK when either static or on the move.
Another valuable and unique feature of the system is its in-built identity obfuscation features. An AlbeePro-Nomad doesn’t use just 4 x fixed SIM’s that an adversary could build a behavioural profile against over time to track the device. It uses multiple different on-board SIM identities that can be randomly selected and deselected in real-time depending on network conditions. This makes building a behavioural profile of the device significantly more difficult. Add to that the ability of the user to replace the modular radio cassette’s regularly with the spare located in the carry case, means that tracking of the systems IMEI’s (modem identity) is also significantly frustrated.
So, at the end of the technically extended safe operational life of the system, the radio cassettes are merely removed and shipped back to Albeego for recycling and replaced with new cassettes for a fraction of the price of purchasing a new router.
A Network Rail project has been mobilised to carry out some routine maintenance on a railway bridge in the North West of England, the project will last 3 months. The area is a semi-rural location and a local farmer has been approached and has agreed that the maintenance team can build a temporary compound for site cabins, plant and vehicles in a field just off the road, 50m away from the rail bridge.
The construction team arrives at the site on the first day of the work, they enter the site offices and place an AlbeePro Pinion router on the table. Once switched on the router initially goes into ‘mobile mode’ and connects to three LTE networks in the location, immediately enabling the site with WiFi access to the Network Rail enterprise network.
The AlbeePro Pinion Router maps the local mobile networks and using its smart on board analytics, it calculates what is the optimum configuration for that location. It then loads the LTE modems with the SIM configuration to deliver the best quality, high speed and stable connection.
Later that day the security team complete the CCTV and Access Control installation of the sirte. They install an AlbeePro Rugged Router to a pole in the centre of the site which wirelessly connected the CCTV and Access Control sensors to the Control Facility at the rail HQ some 30 miles away. This allows the site to be monitored around the clock without the need to keep security staff on site during non working hours.
Many modern cities and transport networks across the world are increasingly reliant on wide area distributed CCTV infrastructure providing real time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Services.
Although these systems are becoming essential to ensure the security and well-being of people in those cities and users of those transport networks, the large-scale adoption of the required technologies does come with significant cost and complexity.
One of the main barriers to adoption of these systems is the need to establish a resilient, high throughput and stable backhaul network between the deployed CCTV systems and the Central Control Rooms that manage and monitor such systems.
Traditionally these networks have been fibre optic, with each of the thousands of CCTV cameras needing a dedicated fibre optic link. This requires the installation of hundreds or even thousands of miles of fibre cabling across the city, each fibre cable requiring sub-terranean pit and duct construction or steel containment to protect it. This fixed infrastructure can add up to 70% of the systems cost, can take many years to complete and is susceptible to future route damage caused by accidental digging or duct fires etc.
Traditional mobile network connectivity provided by 2G and 3G networks was not a viable option due to the low data throughput these systems were limited to which was unsuitable for the transmission of CCTV data. But the successful evolution to LTE and 4G, and more recently 5G has opened up new options for wide geographical backhaul networks, as these technologies begin to deliver the throughput required.
Modern LTE, 4/5G network connectivity for large distributed CCTV infrastructure however still carries risks, which are often still considered to be too high, these include:
AlbeePro is a bonding solution that has been designed to overcome these risks and has been optimised for use as a wide area access technology. The system uses IP67 rated AlbeePro Rugged routers located at each CCTV camera to connect back to the Central Control Room via not one but multiple LTE, 4/5G links. These links are bonded together ensuring that if one of the multiple connections is lost or disrupted, the CCTV data is merely re-routed across the remaining connections.
Unlike a ‘Load Balancing’ solution, the bonding technology that is used by AlbeePro ensures that all of the connections are being used all of the time, providing a high throughput, stable and secure connection to the deployed CCTV Camera.
Each camera can be be deployed in hours instead of days or weeks, and the on-board battery pack in the router ensures that even in the event of full city-wide power failure, the CCTV system continues to function for many hours independently of the infrastructure.
Another huge bonus of this type of technology is the ability to flex and reconfigure existing CCTV or ANPR systems, densifying areas by merely adding more cameras or deploying specialised mobile units to add to the fixed systems reach, working at the halt or on the move.
During the time when the idea for Albeego was being developed, three of the four partners in the business where working and living in the Middle East. The general need for stable, fast and secure connected mobility was clear, and in our various roles the use of our technology to enable smart oilfields, instantly deployable security systems and enable connected mobility for secure convoys were additional compelling use cases for a future business class bonded broadband capability. But the most striking use cases were revealed when travelling in and around Africa and South East Asia.
In 2016, while managing ‘engineering’ for a leading Oil and Gas Integrator in Dubai I was asked to go to Africa to assess a number of projects. While in Africa I was lucky enough to travel out of the cities and urban areas and visited many rural communities.
My work took me through numerous rural villages, almost all accessed via dust roads and varying in size from just a few clustered farming dwellings to more populated centres with small urbanisations, and supporting infrastructure including small schools and medical centres.
We often stopped at these villages and it was clear that the infrastructure that supports our lives in more advanced countries like the UK and UAE was scarce, but locally generated electricity was available, and water and sanitation systems has been developed.
I also noted that all of these small settlements were serviced usually by two ‘new’, well-engineered 4G cell sites, usually provided by Vodafone and MTN. The local people could often be seen with mobile phones and it was clear that they relied heavily on the rudimentary connectivity that these services provided.
Mobile phone system technology develops at great speed and in the richer, more developed countries like the UK, US and Europe, and mobile phone operators are constantly upgrading their networks to remain competitive. But often these upgrades are strategic investments and the newer systems replace perfectly functional infrastructure. It is this ‘legacy’ infrastructure which is then redeployed to less advanced areas of the world, where the fledgling and low-density demand of these rural areas is easily accommodated.
But I also noted that these systems were being used almost exclusively for voice communication. The villages contained no ‘last mile’ infrastructure so although mobile phones could be used extensively, the village and its occupants still did not have access to the Internet beyond the browsing capability of their mobile phones.
This is where I saw the need for Albeego bounded router technology. The system requires zero planning, and no user configuration. The villagers would merely unwrap the systems on arrival, switch on and place their AlbeePro routers into the school, surgery or their homes to activate instant high-speed internet access for all. AlbeePro IP67 IoT systems could additionally be fixed to lamp-posts around the village providing quickly deployed and zero maintenance Internet ‘Hot-Spots’, enabling safe, high speed communal Internet access.
In particular my interest was drawn to the medical centre to enable ‘connected’ medical services, but more importantly as a way of connecting rural schools in a safe, regional or country wide enclosed network. This could enable remote, collaborative video-based teaching practices and could also enable safe, filtered access to the Internet by schools from anywhere in the system. The physical set-up of such a system would require minimal planning and management and its deployment could be almost instant.
In 2016 I visited Manila in the Philippines to plan the implementation of an ‘overseas’ engineering centre there. I spent 2 weeks in the city planning the establishment of the remote engineering team and looked at many potential office locations around the city.
While in Manila I was very surprised at the difficulty I had in maintaining Internet access. The system in my hotel was very poor, and when out and about in the city, connectivity via my tablet was all but impossible. When viewing the many potential, and good quality office locations the lack of existing Internet services in them became a consistent factor for consideration. I was warned that the new provision of services once an office had been chosen would be a long and expensive process with the resultant quality of the connection largely being based on the cost of the monthly plan agreed.
In contrast, the city seemed to be ‘awash’ with 4G mobile phone coverage. Almost every roof top seemed to be laid siege by cell system technology, linked via what appeared to be a robust high capacity backhaul network. I began using local café’s to catch-up with my work as these seemed to be the only accessible Internet facilities in the city. Whilst using these ‘hot spots’, I was constantly aware of the security vulnerabilities of this type of ‘Ad Hoc’ access and found myself having to use different security and VPN technologies to protect my data.
In the Cafés I noted a continuously high population of students, not here for the great coffee, but using the cafes for connectivity to enable their studies. These people didn’t have Internet at home, and in order to continue their studies the hunt for Internet connectivity seemed to be a daily pre-occupation.
Manila, like many densely populated, older urbanisations around the world, including cities like Mumbai, Jakarta, Karachi and Bangkok simply doesn’t have the ‘last mile’ connectivity required to propagate terrestrial Internet services. The buildings were constructed at a time where copper infrastructure, if installed at all was only suitable for analogue voice services, with retrospective installation of more modern infrastructure being both overly expensive and disruptive. In these cities this means that the population in general, but more importantly the young, inquisitive and educating population is starved of vital connectivity.
This is where I saw the need for Albeego. Our technology relies on no local infrastructure other than a source to charge the battery, it requires no ‘user configuration’, is completely portable and can be deployed in seconds. An AlbeePro router could immediately convert the abundance of cellular connectivity in these cities into a fast, stable and secure connection to the Internet that could be used by families, Cafes or groups of people.
Our IoT solution, in its IP67 casing could be fixed to lap-post around the city, providing instant, safe, fast and secure Internet ‘Hot-Spots’ to dense urban areas. This could be done quickly, cost effectively, and without system planning, avoiding the disruptive and hugely expensive installation of copper or fibre infrastructure.
Working on the move from a vehicle or in a train is difficult, and broadband connectivity can often be poor and intermittent.
As a vehicle or train moves, a cellular device in the vehicle/train is connected to the static cellular infrastructure around it. That means that the cell towers are constantly coming into and going out of range, causing the cellular device to constantly hop to the next cell tower. This causes disruption to the data connection at the least and can cause an IP session such as Teams or Zoom for instance to fully collapse during a full ‘hard’ cell handover.
The answer to this problem is to connect to not one, but multiple cell towers at the same time. That way, as one goes out of range and the radio ‘hops’, the other radios are still connected. The multiple connections can then be combined to form a fast, stable and secure mobile broadband connection, this is known as cellular bonding.
The Pinion from Albeego is a powerful edge appliance with an integrated bonded router connecting it to the commercial mobile networks. The system is designed to integrate with the vehicle ignition systems and has the ability to work when the vehicle systems are switched off using its on-board battery system.
The system can be fully integrated into a vehicle providing both powerful computing at the edge and full broadband connectivity on the move. Typical use cases include:
Wherever you are on the move, the Pinion from Albeego can keep you connected.