Chevron Trials New Mission-Critical Data Standard at 1.4 GHz
Tuesday, October 30, 2018 | Comments
Chevron is testing the standard developed last year for mission-critical data applications using 1.4 GHz spectrum.

“We are currently test driving a 802.16s radio in a point-to-point link designed to replace analog telco data circuits that are going away,” said Frederick Smith, Chevron infrastructure architect.

In 2004, the FCC made available 5 megahertz of 1.4 GHz spectrum. Under the rules, 2.5 megahertz is available under Part 90 rules for telemetry applications, and 2.5 MHz is available for hospitals for wireless medical telemetry. Whether the upper or lower 2.5-megahertz chunk is allocated to Part 90 depends on what part of the U.S. the licensee is in.

The IEEE 802.16s standard was finalized last year with input from the WiMAX Forum, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Utilities Technology Council (UTC), and industry users and suppliers. The IEEE 802 Executive Committee amended the existing WiMAX standard (IEEE 802.16e) to support channel sizes between 100 kilohertz and 1.25 megahertz for 802.16s. The WiMAX standard only allowed for channels sizes starting at 1.25 megahertz.

Chevron has successfully used the 1.4 GHz band since 2007 in a traditional multiple address system (MAS) deployment. The oil and gas firm is now conducting a 802.16s pilot with Ondas Networks equipment and a 500-kilohertz bandwidth channel at 1.4 GHz.

“As we look to the next generation of 1.4 GHz gear, the prospects of having an industry standard as an option are exciting, particularly when that new standard infuses a lot of new technology that allows for more efficient use of the spectrum,” Smith said.

The 1.4 GHz 802.16s radios include wireless Ethernet, GPS synchronization, adaptive power control and time division duplex (TDD) operations, allowing more flexibility for various mission-critical applications. Ethernet over licensed MAS has always been a bit of a strain because the overhead of Ethernet cuts into an already small amount of bandwidth, Smith said.

“1.4 GHz helps this situation as standard channels go up to 50 kilohertz, instead of 12.5-kilohertz bandwidth.”

In addition, the FCC rules allow users to request larger bandwidths if they demonstrate a need to the FCC. TDD is required in this band because there are no paired frequencies. The GPS and adaptive power control help dynamically coordinate multiple systems on the same tower or in the same area to minimize interference, while optional orthogonal frequency division multiplex (OFDM) modulation techniques allow more information to be transmitted per hertz of RF spectrum.

“All of these more modern techniques represent opportunities to make spectrum utilization more efficient in a band that is largely a clean slate,” Smith said.

Chevron has been cautious with its introduction with internet of things (IoT) technology and keeps it separate from its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) network.

“The 1.4 GHz spectrum can be used for any application, and given the acute shortage of spectrum for the Internet of Things that Matter (IoTtM) — things that should not have an Internet dependency — 1.4 GHz may fall more into the camp of secondary market spectrum or other private 700 or 220 MHz alternatives,” he said.

The 802.16s standard is designed to be frequency agnostic, so 1.4 GHz is not the only band where it can operate. There are a number of licensed bands at 2 GHz and below that provide opportunities for industrial users to acquire and lease spectrum. There is significant potential within automated maritime telecommunications services (AMTS) and interactive video and data service (IVDS) in the 200 MHz band, the upper 700 MHz A block, and within a number of bands in the licensed 900 MHz frequencies including the narrowband PCS (NPCS) bands, said Stewart Kantor, Ondas Networks president and chief financial officer (CFO).

“I think much of the excitement at Chevron for the 802.16s standard revolves around the idea of being able to have multiple vendors source products that are interoperable such that large deployments are not at risk of being solely dependent on one vendor,” Smith said.

Kantor said Ondas and its customers are working to foster a multivendor ecosystem around the standard. "As mission-critical entities continue to leverage IEEE 802.16s to establish their own private wireless networks, we expect more vendors and service providers to build technologies and applications in order to bolster competition and mitigate reliance on proprietary solutions," he said. 

Interest has come from electric and water utilities, oil and gas producers, transportation (rail) and security firms.

"We have seen interest expand globally as well," Kantor said. "The expansion of the IEEE 802.16s standard across critical infrastructure sectors globally will help foster the multivendor ecosystem that will make the standard even more valuable to customers over time."

Users interested in the 1.4 GHz should refer to the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) frequency coordination procedures for technical and coordination details because the 1.4 GHz telemetry channels are under Part 90 rules, not Part 101 rules, as is the rest of the MAS allocations.

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