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Five years in the GPS repeater business

Where did that time go?

Yes, FalTech GPS is five years old; I think such an anniversary is worthy of a little reflection to consider what has happened and what we have learned in that time.

Look out for individual blog posts in the near future that will illustrate some of our experiences in more detail.

Well, back in mid-2012 we had one product – a GPS repeater system for the L1 frequency band.

The repeaters we use are designed and built in Finland by Roger GPS Ltd. We are proud to be the sole UK distributor of Roger GPS products and since 2012 we have sold nearly 1,000 systems in approximately 10 different countries as well as the UK.

One factor that definitely helped the GPS repeater market overall was the introduction of a “light license regime” by Ofcom in mid-2012; regulators in most other countries adopted a similar approach.

Up until then the repeater industry was basically unregulated; there were some potentially lethal incidents at airports in Germany, USA and Canada caused by repeaters in aircraft hangars emitting far too much signal.

Take a look at para 2.5 in this Ofcom Statement on Authorisation regime for GNSS repeaters – it makes interesting and compelling reading and clearly states why a licensing regime was/is necessary.

By the way, it’s dated 20 June 2012 – such good timing!

So who uses GPS repeater systems?

It became clear fairly early on that the biggest client sector for us was going to be “blue light”.

The use of GPS signal repeaters in fire stations (and some police stations) is crucial in preventing delays when mobilising fire appliances and police officers in an emergency.

A repeater system in a fire station ensures that satnav devices always receive live signals from the satellites above, thus avoiding an agonising wait for acquisition of a GPS fix upon exit.

Similarly, MDT (mobile data terminal) equipment provides command and control centres with up to date positional data at all times – even when indoors.

GPS Repeaters For Fire Stations

To date we have supplied and installed repeaters in several hundred fire stations all over the UK and are currently working with a number of fire and rescue services to continue this essential work in other counties.

End of part one; more to follow soon ……..

Phil Whitting
FalTech GPS
01326 336444
phil@gps-repeaters.com

L1/L2 GPS repeater kits on sale – 25% off while stocks last

You may have noticed that the range of GPS repeater kits offered by FalTech has evolved nicely in recent months.

Our top-of-the-range repeater provides indoor coverage for four satellite services simultaneously, all in one neat enclosure measuring just 244 x 165 x 44mm.

GPS repeater with Galileo support available now (Dec 2016)

The GPS repeater product range offered by FalTech GPS has been streamlined down to three sub-categories to support all the most widely used GNSS signals:

  • GPS L1 – the most commonly used signal that is used by satnav devices the world over; available in a standard IP51 (non-waterproof) enclosure.
  • GPS L1 with GLONASS and Galileo – the GLONASS signals come from the Russian satellite constellation and are often used in smart phones, for example, to provide extra accuracy and resilience.  The Galileo system is nearing completion and will offer an alternative positioning service upon which European nations can rely.  Available in standard IP51 and waterproof IP67 versions.
  • GPS L1 with GLONASS and Galileo plus GPS L2 – the L2 signals physically come from the same satellites as the L1 signals, on a different frequency.  Most often used by civilian and military aviation organisations, as well as surveyors, who need the extra accuracy afforded by the L2 signals.  All this in one compact IP67 enclosure.

FalTech GPS showing coaxial-based Iridium repeater system at ESS 2016

FalTech will be launching a brand new coaxial-based Iridium repeater system on stand R74 at the Emergency Services Show at The NEC on 21/22 September 2016.

Here’s a bit of background to explain what the new repeater offers:

Iridium two-way satellite telephones are used all over the world. They generally can’t operate indoors, because the structure of the building blocks ingress and egress of the signal.

When it isn’t practical or safe to leave the building to use a satphone, a repeater system overcomes the barrier put up by the building and allows satellite communications up to 3Km from the outdoor antenna location by using fibre optic cables.

Coaxial Iridium repeater

Coaxial Iridium repeater – optimised for situations where a large distance between outdoor and indoor antennas isn’t necessary

An optical outdoor unit (ODU) is roof-mounted along with a pair of antennas (one for transmit and one for receive) and connects to an indoor unit (IDU) up to 3Km away via optical fibre cables. The IDU converts the optical signal back to RF and makes the signal available indoors via a pair of ceiling-mounted antennas.

However, it isn’t always necessary for the outdoor and indoor antennas to be such a long distance apart.

A coaxial Iridium repeater with two outdoor and two indoor antennas, but no optical fibre interfaces, can be used when the distance from outdoor to indoor antennas is typically less than 40 metres, for example in an aircraft hangar.

The new coaxial repeater system effectively merges the outdoor unit (ODU) and the indoor unit (IDU) into one combined repeater and removes the optical fibre interfaces.  The single IP65 repeater unit is roof-mounted and comes with two indoor antennas and two outdoor antennas, with four 10 metre coaxial cables to connect it all together. That’s all there is to it.

This is a great development in the Iridium repeater portfolio; it’s what amounts to a “Lite” version that is smaller and cheaper than its optical fibre stablemates.  Nonetheless, it provides indoor coverage where it previously wasn’t available and is simple to install.

Reliability is superb – backed up by a three year warranty from the manufacturers.”

There’s a full description within this website if you can’t get to the Emergency Services Show in September.