PARSIPPANY, N.J.—Microlab, a Wireless Telecom Group Company, recently demonstrated what is reported to be the world’s first radio frequency (RF) coupler with embedded signal monitoring intelligence. The patent-pending smart coupler, designed for in-building public safety wireless networks, capitalizes on Internet of Things (IoT) technology for remote sensing and reporting.

Microlab said in a press release that the smart coupler “will be revolutionary in terms of monitoring a passive communications network of RF coaxial cables, components, and antennas.” The company said that the technology will enable public safety authorities, building owners, and systems integrators to continuously supervise, in real-time, their emergency first responder, in-building network’s performance.

Unlike commercial wireless cellular systems, conventional two-way, push-to-talk, public safety radio systems do not have constant network traffic, as these critical communication systems are only used during an emergency event. Radio coverage of public safety systems is typically certified only at the time of a building’s initial testing and then only undergoes periodic grid testing, as required by International Fire Code (IFC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) building codes.

But connectivity issues may not be found until the next yearly test or, at worst, during an emergency. A network that includes smart coupler technology will give building owners and first responders confidence that the communications systems are continuously operational, according to Microlab.

“Our smart coupler technology demonstrated real-time monitoring of a passive coaxial system in our lab experiments,” said Dino Giordano, vice president of product for Microlab, in a statement. “Service antenna failures were detected through multiple nodes and alarms were relayed within the coaxial network, then collected at the head-end gateway. The alarms were reported both remotely via ethernet interface and locally on the gateway. System failures captured in our experiments would often go undetected in a real-world deployment without the monitoring the smart coupler technology provides.”

Microlab (https://microlabtech.com/) plans to introduce products with smart coupler technology in 2019 to its broad portfolio of RF components for in-building public safety wireless networks.

The smart coupler replaces the required tappers and couplers that are typical in DAS networks with all power, diagnostics, and control signaling sent from and received by each coupler from a single rack unit, head-end gateway, over the RF coaxial transmission lines. The gateway node provides local and remote TCP/IP based alarming connectivity to a convenient GUI dashboard with e-mail, SMS, and SNMP protocols. Together, these units enable continuous monitoring of an entire passive DAS system, giving system integrators and operators deep visibility into a building from the head-end’s RF source.

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