Hybrid Networks - Free Space Optics to Balloon Mounted Wireless LAN for Remote Emergency Operations

A. Harris, M.K. Al Akkoumi, F.N. Beainy, R.C. Huck, P.K. Verma, and H.H. Refai (USA)


Emergency Communications, free-space optics, wireless LAN, hybrid networks, remote wireless communications


This paper experimentally analyzes the physical layer of a hybrid free-space optical / wireless balloon mounted LAN in remote locations for emergency operations. 802.11x wireless technologies provide an attractive solution for the establishment of a network access area with the ability to transport data, voice, and video but does not provide a simple mechanism for connection to a remote backbone network. During an emergency, gaining access to the data, voice, and video from the remote location at an Emergency Operations Center can greatly enhance emergency response management. Free-space optical communications are capable of providing the necessary connectivity to a remote backbone network. Based on the advantages of free-space optical and 802.11x wireless technology, a hybrid physical layer scheme is proposed that allows for a remote wireless access area to be optically connected to an existing network following the destruction of existing communication lines. This can be further expanded to areas where a communication infrastructure has never existed but the need for connectivity is required in an emergency.

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