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RFID Tracks Antenna Health for Radio Networks

Comba Telecom's CriticalPoint Antenna Monitoring System leverages RFID to ensure antennas can provide voice communications for public-safety systems used by first-responders.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 27, 2019

Wireless solutions provider Comba Telecom, Inc. has released a system for monitoring the health of a network of antennas that are used to ensure first-responder radio communication during emergencies. The CriticalPoint Antenna Monitoring System (AMS), designed for real-time monitoring of public safety service antennas, employs RFID to ensure that those life-safety systems remain in good working order. The solution consists of a master control unit (MCU) and a passive 902-928 MHz RFID tag, built into the service antenna, that can only respond to interrogation if the device is operating properly.

Public-safety radio systems provide radio coverage for emergency responders in places where two-way radios cannot be relied on—typically, in public buildings. Increasingly, local police and fire jurisdictions are requiring that public safety communications systems, including the service antennas, be monitored where they will oversee safety.

Comba Telecom's CriticalPoint Antenna Monitoring System
Comba's FCC-licensed public-safety solution consists of a donor antenna that is typically installed on a building rooftop and then feeds a bi-directional amplifier (BDA) or Fiber DAS, which amplifies and redistributes the RF signal to service antennas. Those service antennas transmit voice communications back through the donor antenna out to the public safety base station, thereby creating a working radio network.

When emergency personnel enter a building and attempt to use their radios, the public safety communications system, including the service and donor antennas, ensure a signal. But the service antennas distributed around buildings are, like any device, prone to failure. In the event that an emergency responder—such as a firefighter at an active fire, or a police officer involved in an active shooter call—needs to use his or her radio, the good working condition of those service antennas can be a matter of life or death.

Comba Telecom, located in Milpitas, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Comba Telecom Systems Holdings. The company makes cellular base station antennas, as well as commercial and public-safety bi-directional amplifiers (BDAs) and Fiber DAS systems, including the donor and service antennas used during emergencies. "We provide an internal public safety communications network inside buildings to get that outside signal indoors." says J.R. Wakabayashi, Comba's marketing manager.

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