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SANDF simulated training goes wireless

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Communication Solutions (Comsol) recently assisted Saab Systems South Africa (previously known as CyberSim and Dimension Data to implement a data and VoIP wireless connectivity solution at an operations-training site in Bloemfontein.
Saab Systems SA is the official contractor to ConSim (Centre for Conflict Simulation) of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), reporting under the Training Command.

Before wireless connectivity, training exercises were conducted in a physical building and the units used to communicate with wired telephone systems, often when they were in close proximity of each other.
Cables physically ran from one point to another. There was an urgent needed to find a way to detach the units from the headquarters adding realism to the exercise, as would be the case during deployment. Simulating an environment out in the open field was the only option.
According to Sumanth Singh, head of systems & support at Saab Systems SA: “With the simulation of training exercises for army units, realism plays a big role. We wanted to create a training environment representing the conditions as experienced with deployment in Africa.”
The training area provided challenges regarding proper infrastructure in terms of electricity and communication, which is basically the same scenario in Africa.
Communication Solutions implemented:
* A broadband wireless solution with a 100 Megabit “backbone” link to enable real-time communication anywhere within the coverage area.
* Two base stations with 120-degree sector antennas enabled full coverage across the more than 42 square km training area. These base stations are connected via 100 Mbps links to the servers at a central position.
* Five subscriber units with integrated antennas, mounted on tripods, enabled easy set-up and connection to the broadband network.
* Access points (APs) connected “back to back” with the subscriber units, enabling users with laptop computers and VoIP handsets to communicate.
Iain Stevenson, CEO of Comsol, says: “We provide unique wireless solutions to mirror our individual client needs. In this project we are proud to assist the National Defence Force with essential training that will enhance their field tactics."
At the start of the project, Communication Solutions conducted a wireless assessment of the area, which provided information on the proposed radio links and area that needed to be covered. This information was used to plan the 100 Mbps backbone link and radio frequency (RF) coverage from the two base station sites using sophisticated digital terrain modeling software.
The path profiles and coverage prediction models were used to accurately do the bandwidth and system availability planning. During this phase, “high sites” were identified for the accurate placement of the base stations. The findings of the assessment determined how Comsol and Dimension Data architected the broadband access network with VoIP ability.
A telephony server connects with Proxim APs deployed at the headquarters and to unit sites deployed at the training ground.