Winter 2017/18 has seen some extremely challenging weather condition; from heavy snowfall cutting off Alpine ski resorts and generating avalanche warnings, to storm after storm battering both Europe and the US.
But what does this mean from a critical communications perspective?
Many of the sectors that Simoco Wireless Solutions works with, from voluntary and rescue services, to transport and utilities, must have the ability to cope with inclement weather built into their regular operations. Mountain rescue services, for example, are routinely operating in storms and snow. Airports, of course, need reasonable weather for planes to take off and land, and can be brought to a hugely disruptive standstill in poor weather, as Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport was recently. Utilities organisations cover huge geographical areas, which may be subject to a range of different weather systems simultaneously, while oil rigs in the middle of the ocean obviously need to be able to withstand hefty storm conditions.
Transmission quality degradation
Bad weather can affect communications networks in a range of different ways. At the simplest end of the spectrum, from a basic clarity and audibility perspective, high winds and stormy weather can impact voice comms, making it far more difficult for radio users to hear each other.
But it’s also important to think about communications networks more holistically, and consider how the weather can cause transmission problems elsewhere that affect both voice and data transmissions. Lightning, for example, can cause static that interferes with the transmission of radio waves and causes excessive background noise on a network. Even the solar cycle can have an impact on high-frequency radio waves, because these are transmitted through the ionosphere, which is effected by radiation levels from the sun.
Physical wear and tear
Similarly, bad weather can have a negative impact on hardware over periods of months or years, as well as in the short-term. Think about moisture being driven into sensitive equipment by wind and rain over a long period, or slow degradation such as rust. Extremes of temperature, whether heat or cold, can also have an adverse effect on the performance of equipment.
With older networks this sort of effect may not be noticed immediately, but only come to light when severe damage has been done and a hugely disruptive outage takes place.
Weather-proof your communications network with Simoco
All of these factors are vital considerations when building a mission-critical communications network, and they are qualities that Simoco Wireless Solutions has extensive experience in managing. We have created unified communications infrastructures to withstand a wide range of climates across the world with planned resilience to extreme weather conditions built in from the outset.
How do you build weather resilience into a communications network? First of all, you need to choose hardware that is rugged enough to withstand the expected conditions of your environment – with, of course, some contingency built in for extreme conditions. We provide with a wide range of portable mobile radios, terminals and base stations to offer the most robust and resilient foundation for our clients’ communication infrastructure, no matter what background noise or signal interference they may have to deal with.
But you also need to consider how all your equipment works together as a networked whole, and what happens if a particular device or group of devices are rendered unusable because of poor weather. Bottlenecks are to be avoided at all costs, which is why network design is a key part of what we do too.
Implementing a managed service agreement for your critical communications network also helps to mitigate against the challenges of bad weather. On a short-term basis, they can monitor communications networks during periods of inclement weather, re-routing voice and data if bottlenecks occur and rapidly isolating and repairing any damage caused. On a longer-term basis, they can proactively assess the network for any signs of hardware damage, rectifying it before it becomes disruptive.
Simoco Wireless Solutions offers a range of bespoke approaches to managed services, so you can choose the right model depending on the precise environment you operate in – and the weather you are likely to face.