Jim Rousseau, ID Technologies Wireless Network Architect; has traveled across the country over this past year visiting Department of Defense bases testing a number of wireless technologies. In his travels he discovered that there seems to be a misunderstanding, in some cases, distrust for Wi-Fi technologies. Jim has sought out to cast a light on different wireless solutions for the DoD and re-introduce Wi-Fi as the predominant network medium.
Challenge: Delivering Wi-Fi in challenging Flight Operational and Maintenance environments.
Unreliable Wi-Fi in hangars, flight lines, and readiness and maintenance operations prevents the DoD aviators from seeing the full mission value from electronic workflow. Today, the Army and Marines deploy the same commercial-grade wireless access points everywhere on base, outdoors and indoors. While commercial access points generally perform well in an office environment, they perform poorly—if at all—in hangars, flight lines and warehouses. The coverage area is too vast, and metal hangars, concrete bunkers and moving aircraft block signals. What’s more, commercial vendors for access points typically deploy them without first conducting the rigorous site surveys needed for optimal coverage in complex environments.
Knowing that Wi-Fi connections are likely to drop if they’re available at all, operators work the same way they did in the 1990s. Imagine an operator who receives mid-day orders to replace an F-16 wiring harness or load medical supplies. Today that operator has to walk to the base station—potentially 10 minutes away—download instructions to a laptop and then walk back to the aircraft. An operator assigned six tasks a day can easily spend two hours simply retrieving documents.