Aircraft Telephones (Wireless Networks)

Aircraft Telephones
Aircraft telephones allow people on an airplane to initiate telephone calls with the public telephone system through connection via land based radio or satellite transmission systems. Recently, some aircraft telephone systems have been upgraded to allow calls to be received on the airplane.

Aircraft telephone systems are ordinarily a hybrid wireless system that is a terrestrial wireless system (land-based) combined with satellite service. The terrestrial system is used to connect telephone calls when the aircraft is above land and is within distance of a ground transmitter. For the terrestrial-based system, the phone handset in the airplane is connected to a transmitter in the plane’s belly that connects the call down to one of the ground antennas located strategically throughout the country. The call is routed to a ground switching station that connects the call to the receiving party.

The satellite system is used mainly over the water, where calls are out of reach of the ground antennas. For the satellite-based system, the phone handset on the plane is connected to an antenna on the top of the plane that connects the signal up to an orbiting satellite. The call is then sent down to earth by the satellite frequencies to its satellite earth station, then to one of the main ground switching stations that routes the call to the PSTN.

Aircraft phone systems normally have handsets in a common area or handsets that are located in the back of passenger seats. If the handset is located in the seat, some aircraft phone systems allow incoming calls. For someone to reach you on an aviation telephone system, the person on the aircraft must first get an telephone access number and temporary identification code by registering with the aviation telephone operator. The person placing the call from the ground dials the access number and enters the temporary identification code and the call will be routed to the aviation telephone.

Figure 1 shows a public aircraft telephone system. This diagram shows that aircraft may be served by terrestrial (land-based) systems or satellite communication systems. In either case, the aircraft communicates with a gateway that links the radio system to the public telephone system.

Figure 1: Public Aircraft Telephone System

Land Mobile Radio (LMR)

Land mobile radio (LMR) consists of a wide variety of mobile radio systems, ranging from a simple pair of handheld “walkie-talkies” to digital cellular-like systems. LMR includes radio service between mobile units or between mobile units and a base station.

LMR systems are traditionally private systems that allow communication between a base and several mobile radios. LMR systems can share a single frequency or use dual frequencies. Where LMR systems use a single frequency when mobile radios must wait to talk, this is called a simplex system. To simplify the mobile radio design and increase system efficiency, some LMR systems use two frequencies; one for transmitting and another for receiving. If the radio cannot transmit and receive at the same time, the system is called half duplex. When LMR systems use two frequencies and can transmit and receive at the same time, this is called full duplex. When a company operates an LMR system to provide service to multiple users on a subscription basis (typically to companies), it is called a public land mobile radio system (PLMR).

Figure 1 shows a traditional two-way radio system. In this example, a high power base station (called a “base”) is used to communicate with portable two-way radios. The two-way portable radios can communicate with the base or they can communicate directly with each other.

Figure 1: Traditional Land Mobile Radio System

LMR systems are used by: taxicab companies, conventioneers, police and fire departments, and places where general dispatching for service is a normal course of business communications. SMR radios are regularly designed to be rugged to survive the harsh environment. SMR radios can usually be programmed with a unique code. This code may be an individual code or group code (e.g., pre-designated group of users such as a fire department). This allows all the radios belonging to a group, or a sub-group, to be “paged” by any party in the group. A push-to-talk method is used during the dispatch call (page) or reply. This push-to-talk radio-to-radio communication efficiently utilizes the airwaves because of the bursty (very short transmission time) nature of the information.

Automated land mobile radio systems are divided into two categories; SMR or Enhanced SMR (ESMR). Enhanced land mobile radio systems operate and have similar features to mobile telephone systems.

Wireless Local Loop (WLL)

Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
Wireless local loop (WLL) service refers to the distribution of telephone service from the nearest telephone central office to individual customers via a wireless link. In some cases, it is referred to as “the last mile” in a telephone network. This term is a bit misleading, though, because the coverage area of a WLL system may extend many miles from the central office.

Competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC) are competitors to the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECS) and are likely to use WLL systems to rapidly deploy competing systems. If CLECs do not use wireless systems, they must either pay the existing phone company for access to the local loop (resale) or dig and install their own wire to the local customers. Many countries, that do not have large wired networks such as the United States, are using wireless local loop as their primary phone system.

Figure 1 shows a wireless local loop system. In this diagram, a central office switch is connected via a fiberoptic cable to radio transmitters located in a residential neighborhoods. Each house that desires to have dial tone service from the WLL service provider has a radio receiver mounted outside with a dial tone converter box. The dial tone converter box changes the radio signal into the dial tone that can be used in standard telephone devices such as answering machines and fax machines. It is also possible for the customer to have one or more wireless (cordless) telephones to use in the house and to use around the residential area where the WLL transmitters are located.

Figure 1: Wireless Local Loop

The most basic service offered by wireless local loop (WLL) system is to provide standard dial tone service known as plain old telephone service (POTS). In addition to the basic services, WLL systems typically offer advanced features such as high-speed data, residential area cordless service, and in some cases, video services. To add value to WLL systems, WLL service providers will likely integrate and bundle standard phone service with other services such as cellular, paging, high speed Internet, or cable service.

WLL systems can provide for single or multiple-line units that connect to one or more standard telephones. The telephone interface devices may include battery back up for use during power outages. Most wireless local loop (WLL) systems provide for both voice and data services. The available data rates for WLL systems vary from 9.6 kbps to over several hundred kbps. WLL systems can be provided on cellular and PCS, private mobile radio, unlicensed cordless, and proprietary wideband systems that operate the 3.4 GHz range.

Wireless Data (Wireless Networks)

Wireless Data
Wireless data systems transfer of digital signals between two data devices via a wireless communication path. Most wireless data services are dedicated to specific types of applications. Vertical wireless data applications (vertical) are very specific solutions, and have continued to win over mass market “horizontal” offerings. Vertical solutions include applications such as utility meter reading or mobile dispatch. Horizontal solutions have mass-market appeal such as wireless e-mail.

The growth of the Internet has also enabled low-cost, standardized access to wireless data networks that is accelerating the growth of the wireless data marketplace. In 2001, almost all the new mobile telephones had wireless Internet access capability.

Figure 1 shows a basic wireless data system. In this example, many types of wireless data devices communicate through a public wireless data system. In the core of the system, there is a switching system. The switching system commonly routes the data between the wireless device and a computer system (such as a company computer). In this diagram, there are more receivers than transmitters. This is required to allow low-power mobile data transmitters to reach the system. Base station transmitters can provide up to 500 Watts effective radiated power (ERP) while portable mobile data devices can usually provide less than 1 Watt of transmitted power.

Figure 1: Wireless Data System

Wireless data get the attention it deserves when a mass-market wireless data application (often called the “Killer App”) is embraced by the public. Here are a few successful vertical wireless data applications:

Wireless data for the electric power, waste water, and natural gas industries. New competition in the utility industry demands the benefits of a wireless data solution for timely customer-focused improvements.

Wireless data for field service personnel. Field service organizations use wireless data to close the gap on a geographic distance to improve customer service, technician productivity, and increased revenues.

Companies with mobile sales forces have increased their productivity and efficiency of personnel by filling out much of their paperwork “on-line”. Sales force access to corporate databases has proven paramount in the new paradigm of doing business the 21st century style.

Paging (Wireless Networks)

Paging is a method of delivering a message, via a public or private communications system or radio signal, to a person whose exact whereabouts are unknown. Users as a rule carry a small paging receiver that displays a numeric or alphanumeric message displayed on an electronic readout or it could be sent and received as a voice message or other data.

Commercial paging service began in 1949 with the allocation of frequencies exclusively dedicated to one-way signaling services. Subscribers used AM receivers, listened for an operator to announce their number, and then called the service to receive their messages. Selective addressing (the ability to choose one individual pager from the group) was introduced in the mid 1950’s and FM was first used in an experimental paging system in 1960. Pagers with alphanumeric displays made their debut in the early 1990’s. In addition to complete messages that can be sent and stored in these pagers, a number of other services such as stock market and sports score reporting have been developed.

There are 4 basic types of messaging services offered by paging systems: tone, numeric, text (alpha), and voice. Two types of paging systems can deliver these messaging services: one-way and two-way paging. One-way paging systems only allow the sending of messages from the system to the pager. Two-way paging systems allow the confirmation and response of a message from the pager to the system as well.

One-way paging is a process where paging messages (signals) are sent from a radio tower to a pager without a return verification signal. In its simplest form, a one-way paging system can serve up to several hundred thousand numeric paging customers.

Figure 1 shows a one-way paging system. In this diagram, a high-power transmitter broadcasts a paging message to a relatively large geographic area. All pagers that operate on this system listen to all the pages sent, paying close attention for their specific address message. Paging messages are received and processed by a paging center. The paging center receives pages from the local telephone company or it may receive messages from a satellite network. After it receives these messages, they are sent after processing to the high-power paging transmitter by an encoder. The encoder converts the pagers telephone number or identification code entered by the caller to the necessary tones or digital signal to be sent by the paging transmitter.

Figure 1: One-Way Paging System

Two-way paging systems allow the paging device to acknowledge and sometimes respond to messages sent by a nearby paging tower. The two-way pager’s low-power transmitter necessitates many receiving antennas being located close together to receive the low-power signal.

Figure 2 shows a high-power transmitter (200-500 Watts) which broadcasts a paging message to a relatively large geographic area and several receiving antennas. The reason for having multiple receiving antennas is that the transmit power level of pagers are much lower than the transmit power level of the paging radio tower. The receiving antennas are very sensitive, capable of receiving the signal from pagers transmitting only 1 watt.

Figure 2: Two-Way Paging System

The number of required receivers for a two-way paging system is dependent on the available transmittal power from the paging and how fast the information is to be transferred. The higher the data transmission rate results in a higher number of required receivers.

The main advantage of two-way paging systems is their ability to require pagers to register their location within the paging system. This allows the paging system to direct pages for a specific pager only to the area near where the pager last registered. This frees up the paging capacity of channels in other geographic areas so paging messages can be sent to other pagers. This is a type of frequency reuse based on geographically separated systems.

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