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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

DigitalGlobe Announces Agreement with Rise Broadband

May 17th, 2017 by Susan Smith

DigitalGlobe, Inc. this week announced an agreement to provide elevation data to Rise Broadband, a fixed wireless internet service provider (WISP), to enable faster and more efficient deployment of wireless internet services in the United States.

Wireless networks are becoming denser and base station location is critical to service quality. Digital Surface Models provide the accuracy that planners need to optimize urban network performance. photo courtesy DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Kreg Barrett, DigitalGlobe’s director of North America Sales, spoke with GISCafe Voice about the announcement, whereby DigitalGlobe will provide Rise Broadband with Vricon’s high-resolution Digital Surface Model (DSM) data, to verify fixed wireless broadband service availability to household and businesses in specific market areas before sending installation teams into the field. The products are elevation models created via a joint venture between Vricon (elevation products), EGS Technologies and DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery, and will provide Rise with the ability to enhance the performance of its fixed wireless coverage prediction tools.

DigitalGlobe has 15 years of experience archiving their elevation data, based on their high resolution commercially available satellite imagery. Using their global library the company can built out through working with an ecosystem of partners who build elevation models.

“Rise is a fixed broadband wireless company (WISPS), and they have an array of tower locations in sixteen states,” said Barrett.  “They broadcast high speed internet wireless signals from their towers. A receiver is needed on a house to harness a signal to bring high speed internet to those homes. In order to most effectively determine who has access to tower location, Rise Broadband are using these digital elevation models to do a ViewCad analysis, which asks the question, ‘show me all areas around me that have clear line-of -sight (from towers) using data.’ Once they can identify clear line-of-sight, they can then receive that signal and bring the high speed wireless broadband into that house.”

EGS Technologies, a channel partner for DigitalGlobe, has been serving the wireless community for over 20 years, and brings geodata and other solutions to companies like Rise.

Development in Kenya is hampered by the mountainous terrain of a remote site. Elevation data enhanced with road-flattening enables the project team to identify the best routes and to efficiently plan transportation.
Photo courtesy DigitalGlobe, Inc.

While elevation data has been around for a long time, what makes this dataset and technology really relevant for telecommunications, for public safety, wireless and broadband is DigitalGlobe is able to produce more accurate resolute data at scale, at a very competitive price point, said Barrett.

“We’re able to provide much more detail in this data that covers a wider area,” he said.  “Traditionally the more accurate data has been reserved for urban cores, downtown areas, because there hasn’t been a need to model with high-resolution data in suburbia and rural areas. Now with the advent of fixed wireless broadband or the network densification situation or modeling with small cells looking forward to 5G, there’s going to be a need for high-resolution data outside the urban core. To support future technology like autonomous vehicles, remote surgery and billions of connected devices, and IoT, this data will allow people to model at a much more detailed model level because these technologies are going to require it. It will ultimately save these companies time and effort sending people into the field to do manual testing. This data will allow them to make a more accurate desktop plan and to be more efficient when they go out to build their network. The more accurate the data is, the less time people spend in the field.”

There are a few use cases where this data really applies, said Barret. One is this view shed concept that Rise is employing, from a fixed point tens or hundreds of meters above ground. ‘Show me everywhere that has clear line-of-sight back to that point.’ Within the established wireless networks today there is a significant microwave backhaul needed to offload data from the network where fiber isn’t available or not practical, so microwave is a line-of-sight technology. There can be no blockages between radios employing microwave in order for that downlink to be successful.

“Our data is used in those circumstances with microwave engineers looking to establish clear line-of-sight between two points. A typical use case for this data is in the wireless industry,” said Barrett.

The other use case is for RF modeling. The RAN and RF engineers are looking for an optimal place to put a cell site to maximize coverage and fill in white spaces in the network.  They will use elevation data, or clutter data – a subset of elevation data –  to determine what the building, trees or the vegetation, goes into a signal absorption algorithm, “to determine where can I place radio to minimize interference and optimize the network so no one will experience latency while watching video, etc.,” Barrett said.

The upshot of this agreement truly will result in highly accurate location intelligence datasets that make it possible for telecom and broadband companies to deploy services faster and provide better service to their customers.

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Categories: asset management, Big Data, climate change, cloud, data, emergency response, field GIS, geospatial, GIS, government, mapping, photogrammetry, remote sensing, satellite based tracking, satellite imagery, spatial data, telecommunications, transportation

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