Securing the RF spectrum at major events is a crucial part of the national spectrum regulator’s role. Major sporting events such as the Olympics and F1 world Championship can mean big money for governing bodies and hosting countries. The UEFA Euro 2016 tournament in France, for example, generated over €1 billion in TV rights revenue as well as delivering a €1.2 billion boost to the French economy.
All this revenue is surprisingly dependent on the ability of regulators to manage the spectrum. Broadcasters will be reluctant to pay the price if spectrum interference leads to interrupted coverage. Meanwhile, the overall safety and experience for live attendees will be compromised if the spectrum cannot be secured for essential emergency communications. Ticket sales and tourism are going to be significantly impacted if fans cannot trust the organizers to deal with incidents ranging from hooliganism to terror threats.
So how do regulators ensure their events remain secure against the invisible beast of RF interference? A network of intelligent RF sensors to monitor the spectrum in real-time is the secret to safety and security. Our RFeye Nodes have been used by regulators at sporting events across the globe including UEFA Euro 2016, 24 hours of Le Mans, Hungarian F1 GP and FIFA World Cup 2014, to name a few. But what is it about the Node which makes it their go-to product?
RFeye Node deployed in outdoor kit
What are Nodes?
RFeye Nodes are lightweight, low-power receivers for real-time monitoring of the RF spectrum as well as geolocation. Nodes are networkable for remote deployment over wide outdoor areas or inside buildings. Many of the reasons which make Nodes so popular with spectrum stakeholders more generally can be found here (including the technical background). In the rest of this article, we’ll focus on the specific benefits of Nodes for event organizers before, during and after the event.
A key requirement for regulators when they start their search for spectrum monitoring systems is the ability to scale easily. Event requirements can be for monitoring in a single stadium, a large outdoor motor racing track or even many stadiums across multiple cities. RFeye Nodes are highly scalable. Event deployments to date range from a network of four installed in a single stadium, to a network of over 150 across multiple cities.
Some organizers may not be sure of how many Nodes they need, especially if stadiums are still being built when decisions on spectrum management are being made. RFeye Software includes a package of simulation and modelling tools which can be used to verify planned network configurations and to test monitoring and geolocation coverage. This includes combining real-world elevation maps with modeled buildings to simulate propagation effects.
Lidar elevation map and propagation modeling
This allows regulators, either independently or working with CRFS, to accurately calculate how many Nodes will be needed to meet their requirements. If more Nodes are needed later on – no problem as the system is entirely modular and scalable. This helps ensure organizers don’t spend money on Nodes they won’t need or end up with too few for the coverage they need.
The ability of Nodes to operate remotely and autonomously means that even a very large network of over 150 is easy to manage during a busy event. Nodes are rugged with IP67 rating and have an extended temperature range, allowing them to be deployed outdoors and exposed to the elements without compromised operation. The operator simply connects to the Node network remotely to carry out any spectrum monitoring and geolocation tasks in real time. Because CRFS nodes are independently intelligent, operators don’t need to stream large sets of live data; instead, calculations can be processed at the Node and delivered as a concise result. This also means the on-site network data rate can be very low. The operator can then be located at the event itself, or they can monitor and control things from many miles away in another city or even country!
Node networks can be viewed, managed and operated manually
The real-time element is particularly key for events, as it allows instant response to any spectrum interference issues which may disrupt broadcasts or essential communications. Alarms can be triggered and TDOA or POA geolocation used to locate the source of signal interference, with the resulting location automatically sent to the relevant person. The combination of TDOA and POA geolocation techniques ensures optimum geolocation performance for different environments. POA is more suited to a single indoor stadium, while TDOA is likely to be more effective across wide areas such as race tracks.
Real-time response also means that many interference issues can be resolved before they cause disruption. Often, many potential cases of interference can be resolved before an event starts. Being able to take these proactive measures minimizes risk to the event as well as stress for event organizers.
RFeye Nodes cover frequencies up to 18 GHz, but our Node 50-8 or 100-8 covering 9 kHz to 8 GHz will often be ideal for all the broadcasting and PMSE (program-making and special events) frequencies of interest at a typical event.
One of the most significant benefits of the RFeye Node is what happens to them after the event is over. Nodes are highly redeployable, allowing them to be used for future spectrum monitoring needs at events or for entirely different purposes.
The benefit of deploying Nodes at just a single event is huge. Being able to multiply that benefit tens or hundreds of times over across many events makes a network of RFeye Nodes extremely cost-effective. Redeployment strategies have varied between our different regulatory customers. Some have chosen to use the same Nodes at different events over the year, deploying capacity at stadiums and race tracks as required. Other customers who needed a large volume for a one-time event have been able to redeploy Nodes as part of a national spectrum monitoring strategy. This allows Nodes to offer yet further value by ensuring that license allocations that may be auctioned for well over $10 billion are actually worth something and not subject to infringements. You can read more in our case study on Brazilian spectrum regulator Anatel.
If you want to know more about Nodes or how you can secure your event against spectrum interference, get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.