SPECTRA – PROVIDING CONNECTIVITY IN EXTREME CONDITIONS
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE visited Spectra Group (UK) Ltd at its Kingstone, Hereford, UK, Training Facility
28 Apr 10. Spectra Group (UK) Ltd is a leading provider of telecommunication services world-wide, often in hostile or remote areas where either no telecommunications infrastructure exists or where high intensity conflicts, natural disasters or terrorist attacks may have destroyed existing networks. Spectra is providing the connectivity for FLIR Systems Inc. at this year’s Owning The Night and DVD Exhibitions.
“You have developed a considerable pool of expertise and technology, could you tell us how you have achieved this?” The Editor asked.
“I formed Spectra in 2002 just as I was leaving the Armed Forces after 24 years service. At that time we concentrated on the provision of services and training for the security industry, predominately in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had seen a gap in the market for the provision of Strategic and Tactical communications systems for the security industry in these hostile areas. The primary requirement was for Tactical Radio for Local Area Communications, Internet and Telephone services over Satcom for long range. Since then, our customer base has increased to providing services to the Military, both UK and overseas, Other Government Departments and commercial sectors such as Aid Agencies and the Oil and Gas companies. In disaster situations, such as the one we recently faced in the Haitian earthquake, all existing communications systems were destroyed by the earthquake and the co-ordination of the relief effort was extremely difficult. Spectra were really pleased to support the humanitarian effort by deploying one of our detachments with an engineer. Mainly due to Iraq and Afghanistan, Satcom use has grown by a factor of about 300% since 2002 and the military and security companies now have to develop seamless systems to allow 24/7 connectivity to and from remote locations. To achieve this, not only do they need access to extremely reliable systems, they also need communicators to establish communications quickly when they first arrive in theatre. We provide flexible COTS-based solutions to our customers to achieve this rapid deployment. We have put together a resilient telecommunications network and this, together with our highly trained and experienced deployed engineers being controlled by our 24 x 7 Network Operations Centre (NOC), enables us to provide an extremely reliable, flexible and dynamic service to meet our customers’ demanding communication requirements” Simon Davies, Managing Director of Spectra Group said.
“Do you employ a large staff to enable this capability?”
“We have a permanent staff of around 35 but have access to a database of around 600 personnel who are specialist engineers in key areas of technology. All our staff and consultants are highly trained and qualified, many of them being ex-servicemen who have completed Hostile Environments Awareness Training and are able to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. We are experts in the design, delivery, implementation and ongoing support for a comprehensive range of telecommunication services. We also design and deliver bespoke telecommunications-based training programmes and have become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of such training courses to the MoD” Paul Davies, Operations Director of Spectra Group said.
“How do you provide services into remote and hostile areas?”
“The system we have developed over the past 3 years is known as Spectra Hostile Area Deployable Environment (SHADE). SHADE is rapidly deployable and delivers voice and data services across a Telecommunications (Satellite or Terrestrial) bearer to SHADE Central, a UK Hub providing connectivity to the terrestrial infrastructure. The Network has undergone Governmental level Accreditation which guarantees high levels of Confidentiality, Integrity and Availabilit