Consistent and reliable network performance without service interruption is essential for the safety-critical air traffic management (ATM) environment.

Communications and networks must be able to keep aircraft operations and passengers safe, in addition to being flexible if scenarios suddenly change. Frequentis Australasia’s managing director Martin Rampl spoke to us about the company’s ATM-grade network solution, as well as resilient networks and networks as a service.

Frequentis provides a wide range of commercial and customised tools and infrastructure, to meet the varied requirements of its customers. In Australia, the company’s voice communication system (VCS) is currently part of the ongoing OneSky programme, providing a combined civilian and Defence ATM system, set to be the most integrated and advanced in the world.

Air traffic control (ATC) organisations need to share large quantities of data to ensure situational awareness and airspace safety, here Martin tells us why ATM-grade networks are so important.

Complete managed networks for ATM

Frequentis has the knowledge, processes and resources to manage and implement networks, which allows customers to procure the network from Frequentis as a managed service, instead of hiring specialists and building and operating it as a capital investment. This can reduce risk and operational expenses as customers can rent the network service and only pay when the service meets the required standards.

Frequentis recently carried out one of these network management projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, named MEVA (Mejoras al Enlace de Voz del ATS).

“ATM in the Latin America and Caribbean region required a regional approach to enhance radar and voice coverage and provide visibility across borders,” Rampl says.

“We provide satellite links as a managed service. We monitor the status and the availability of the end to end network and if the required service is not provided, the user does not pay.

“The MEVA network provides interactive voice and data telecommunication services and a transport layer for ADS-B resulting in the region benefitting from enhanced air traffic safety and efficiency. This solution allowed member states to share data more easily, improving network reliability and performance.”

End-to-end ATM-grade network services

Frequentis’ ATM-grade networks portfolio ‘vitalsphere’™ offers innovative network infrastructure solutions for safety-critical operations within a range of business models. It includes products and services required to provide end-to-end solutions from network design to its operation.

“Most conventional networks only react to total link loss, known as blackouts,” Rampl explains.

“However, the Frequentis vitalsphere™ NetBroker assures the business continuity and performance required of an ATM-grade network through brown-out detection, flow-based routing, and bandwidth optimisation.”

Vitalsphere’s many advantages include achieving significant bandwidth reductions, higher service availability, through to a unified management system. The solution optimises bandwidth consumption while complying with required standards, leading to significant operational savings (OPEX), especially over expensive transmission links such as satellite communications.

“Moreover, our network management system (NMS) oversees holistically the performance status of the network,” Rampl adds. “This reduces the overhead efforts on managing and troubleshooting a complex ATM network.

“In addition to the mentioned factors, if the customer decides to opt for a managed-service model, the initial asset investment and operational and maintenance expenses are combined into a single fee that starts with the network operation. With a network as a service, the customer pays that monthly fee without the need of financing the infrastructure deployment upfront. One important benefit for the ANSP is that the operational risk is fully consumed and mitigated by Frequentis, including preventative maintenance and required upgrades to meet the agreed service levels.”

Going beyond standard network services

Unique to Frequentis, the vitalsphere NetBroker continually compares network conditions in relevant traffic classes and network segments, matching them with a set of application-specific performance targets. Normal networks do not take into account network services on an application level, but Frequentis understands that certain services require duplicated traffic or have specific timing needs, making this an essential feature.

“The Frequentis solution also supports a degraded service mode (graceful degradation), which lets the user understand if the quality and performance of a network is decreasing. Less vital information can be removed, for example image colour in remote tower applications,” Rampl says. “Frequentis understands the ATM domain and the specific requirements of even the largest pieces of airspace, such as the Australian flight information regions, therefore we are able to offer tailored managed service solutions that support the specific needs of the current and future Australian ATM environment.”

Frequentis is continuously investing a large share of its revenue into research and development, adapting its solutions to the latest technologies and business models. This ensures that the end-user can protect their investments with the ability to update and upgrade the complete range of network services. Providing complete bespoke products included in the vitalsphere portfolio, Frequentis can ensure safe, seamless and cost-effective ATM operations.

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