Range Networks' OpenBTS at the Heart of Solution to Assist Helicopter Search and Rescue Missions

Iceland-based Rogg Develops Application for Coast Guard to Rescue Lost Hikers

Apr 23, 2014, 08:00 ET from Range Networks

SAN FRANCISCO, April 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Range Networks, the leading provider of commercial open source cellular systems and leader of the OpenBTS™ software project, today announced that Iceland technology integrator Rogg Corporation has developed a solution using OpenBTS and Range Networks' hardware to aid in search and rescue missions in the Icelandic highlands. The solution exemplifies OpenBTS as a foundation for innovative and unique communications applications.


  • Traversing Icelandic glaciers: Time is of the essence in any rescue operation, but treacherous terrain, poor visibility and cold temperatures pose severe risks to rescuers and search targets alike. These efforts can involve up to 500 rescue workers, consuming thousands of man-hours at great expense.
  • Helicopters become flying cell networks: To reduce search time and increase safety, Rogg developed a solution called the Norris Positioning System (NPS). NPS triangulates the location of lost hikers through cell phone signals at distances up to 20 miles by performing calculations based on the GSM timing advance value and mapping the results on iPad tablets. Icelandic Coast Guard Super Puma helicopters have been outfitted with NPS and an omnidirectional antenna, mounted under the fuselage, essentially turning the helicopters into flying cellular networks.
  • A solution indifferent to visibility: Previously limited to visual searches, helicopter crews now have a tool that is indifferent to fog, rain or snow and introduces a new approach for searching areas difficult to access on foot or with vehicles. Following numerous test flights, NPS is now operational, has been used in four large search operations and has contributed to one rescue thus far.
  • Icelandic government assigns spectrum: The game-changing nature of this solution for search and rescue was recognized by the Icelandic telecoms regulator, PFS, and has resulted in a reserved channel in the 1800 band for national use of the application.
  • OpenBTS as a platform for innovation: Developed by Range Networks, OpenBTS is an open source software implementation of the GSM radio access network and enables innovative applications, such as NPS, by providing developers with access to the GSM stack running on a standardized Linux computer.


Baldvin Hansson, director of technology, Rogg Corporation said:
"We've seen first-hand the risks posed to both rescuers and missing persons in these extreme conditions. People get lost in the highlands all the time, and it's not uncommon that they are carrying their cell phones. Through this technology, the Coast Guard is able to locate lost individuals faster and more efficiently, oftentimes completing the mission in the amount of time it used to take to launch one."

Harvind Samra, CTO, Range Networks and co-inventor of the OpenBTS Project said:
"In search and rescue missions, time is of the essence. When our global headquarters was in my living room, we imagined OpenBTS helping solve these types of problems. We are excited that our technology is able to improve the safety and success of these missions. We look forward to seeing many other great new innovations leveraging OpenBTS." 

About Range Networks
Range Networks is developing the future of cellular networks. Founded by the inventors of OpenBTS, the company is the leader in commercial open source cellular systems. Range Networks' systems are simple to deploy and manage at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions. Based on OpenBTS, Range Networks delivers mobile connectivity for rural communities, remote industries and emergency responders, and supplies development networks to commercial labs and universities. Additional information is available at: www.rangenetworks.com.

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SOURCE Range Networks