His Royal Highness The Duke of York, acting in his capacity as Special Representative for International Trade & Investment, this week visited the UK headquarters of international communications infrastructure specialists Alan Dick in Cheltenham.
The Duke of York, who was escorted by The Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, was presented to Mr Alan Dick, president of the company, and to Mr Callum Dick, chief executive officer. His Royal Highness was also introduced to the directors (Mr William Carruthers, operations director, Mr Paul Murphy, finance director and Mr Tony Trussell, commercial director).
The Duke of Yorks visit follows closely that of the Lord Lieutenant in August last year when he presented Alan Dick with the Queens Award for Enterprise in recognition of the companys outstanding achievements in international trade.
During his visit, His Royal Highness was given a guided tour of the companys headquarters and saw demonstrations of a number of innovative communications infrastructure solutions developed by Alan Dick. The first of these was a Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) device that enables mobile phone operators to optimise network coverage from a control centre using precision software, eliminating the need for manual adjustment to masts or antennas.
By optimising coverage patterns, operators can now concentrate radio field strength where it is needed, reducing the risk of dropped calls and user annoyance to maximise income and user loyalty. The RET device also enables operators to reconfigure their networks dynamically, for instance focusing coverage into a football stadium area while a major match is being played. Illumination can be optimised into business areas during the day and re-focused into residential districts at night.
His Royal Highness was also shown a new development in wireless access (Wi-Fi) technology which uses a simple panel to enable mobile devices such as laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to connect wirelessly outdoors to a telecommunications network or to the Internet over long distances, as well as inside large buildings, such as hotels and conference centres.
The enormous capacity and range of this technology creates an alternative to managing multiple access points by significantly reducing or eliminating the costs of installation, wiring and software currently required to deploy a large-scale Wi-Fi network.
The Duke of York toured the companys antenna production facility to view the manufacture, construction and testing of TV and radio station transmitter antennas, feeders and combiner systems. As well as observing the development of new antennas for cellular base station sites, His Royal Highness showed particular interest in a TV combining unit system manufactured by Alan Dick as part of a major contract with a new broadcast facility in Bahrain to supply a tower, antennas, feeders and combining units for multi-channel FM and UHF systems.
This combining system comprises three section band pass modules designed to combine four channels into the same antenna. The power rating of the system is extremely high (180kW), requiring the use of four 6 coax outputs, each around 25 times thicker than a standard TV antenna cable. This has made the mechanical arrangements for installation very important. Alan Dick specialists have therefore designed all the interfaces between the components to ensure that system performance is maximised. Alan Dicks designers in the UK and Middle East have considerable experience in this type of work and are very proud to have made such light work of a very complex issue.
His Royal Highness finally visited Alan Dicks outdoor test range to view a selection of masts and antennas, including one which looks like a tree, similar to those being used today by network operators, equipment suppliers and local authorities to ensure masts and antennas are visually unobtrusive.
Commenting on the occasion, Group CEO Callum Dick said, Todays visit, which comes on top of the Queens Awards for Enterprise we have received in 1979, 1984 and 2003, is a massive endorsement of the companys achievements and is a tribute to the hard work of our people worldwide.
My colleagues and I were extremely impressed by The Duke of Yorks knowledge of the telecommunications industry and his keen interest in our latest developments in wireless technology. His Royal Highness took considerable time to understand every item he was shown and went way off his prescribed route round our facilities to meet and talk to staff.
At one point, His Royal Highness gave reprographics clerk, Celia Short, and technical support manager, Chris Manning, the surprise of their lives by popping his head unannounced through their open window to enquire about their roles in the company.
The Duke of York showed considerable interest in our latest developments in WiFi, 3G and broadband. His Royal Highness said he greatly encouraged DTI and Government support to British businesses whose technologies are helping to extend the reach of digital communications to those in rural areas, both at home and overseas.
To this end, The Duke of Yorks visit further underlines the success that Alan Dick has achieved through the globalisation of its business and extension of its services to provide complete communications infrastructure solutions worldwide, said Mr Dick.
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[841 words - issued January 2004]
A selection of 15 photographs of the Royal visit are available for download at www.prpix.biz/adc. Captions are available on request.
Notes to editors
From humble beginnings in 1971, when the company made its name supplying the fledgling UHF/colour TV transmission market in the UK, Alan Dick (www.alandick.com) now operates internationally, providing comprehensive infrastructure solutions for broadcast, aeronautical and military markets, as well as the satellite, telecoms and wireless/cellular industries.
In April 2003, the company gained the prestigious Queens Award for Enterprise for its international sales success, following this up in June with the acquisition of CPS Global (www.cpsglobal.com), the Newbury-based cellular infrastructure company, with 15 employees. CPS Global was an offshoot of CPS, the Australian telecoms consultancy.
What the Duke of York saw at Alan Dick.
The UHF combining unit system bound for the new broadcast facility in Bahrain comprises three section band pass modules which combine channels 25, 30, 38, and 55 into the same antenna. Every combining unit is fed via a switching panel which provides the ability to operate on half system during maintenance or whilst tower work is in progress. The system is also expandable to allow the addition of future channels if required.
The phasing required by the wideband antenna system being supplied is achieved through the hybrid couplers incorporated into the combining unit system. These provide a stable level of performance over the whole bandwidth required, which could not otherwise be achieved.
Special attention has been paid to the footprint of the system, which is required to fit within a limited space in the clients building. The system was assembled in the companys factory in Cheltenham.
(Photography of The Duke of York viewing the combining unit system is available from Wendy Harbutt on request.)
The Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) device is a remotely controlled antenna equipped with actuators that optimise base station antenna beam patterns. They boost signal strength under precision software control from a network control centre, possibly hundreds of kilometres away, thereby eliminating the need to send busy engineers long distances to adjust masts or antennas.
At the touch of a button, cellular base station antennas can now be realigned, and coverage optimised in an instant - day or night, rain or shine. As well as removing the need for time-consuming site visits and callouts, this helps to reduce fuel bills, vehicle mileage, and the risk of injury to engineers through having to climb masts.
Unique to Alan Dicks product is an ingenious mechanism that not only alters the direction of tilt, but also adapts the antennas performance to optimise the power transfer from transmitter to antenna, thereby increasing overall efficiency.
Just as a searchlight can be focused and directed to illuminate a precise field of view, remote controlled actuators can vary the angle of tilt for cellular antennas. Coverage can be tailored to maximise capacity where required and minimise overlap into adjoining cellsite areas. This feature has been particularly welcomed by the new 3G network operators, for whom accurate handoff between cells and minimal overlap is critical.
Until now, the introduction of new base stations would require many visits to existing stations to realign antennas. Such visits are no longer necessary if an antenna has been equipped for remote tilting.
Alan Dicks calculations indicate that direct savings can produce payback within a short timescale. The Remote Tilt solution is already field proven, having been evaluated by European network operators for several months. It can be retrofitted to existing installations.
(Photography illustrating The Duke of York viewing Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) technology is available from Wendy Harbutt on request.)
Alan Dicks new development in wireless access (Wi-Fi) technology uses a single panel to provide network operators with outdoor rural coverage over long distances and inside large buildings for users of portable communications devices that rely on the 802.11b (Wi-Fi) protocol. It is designed to help businesses and service providers build high bandwidth Wi-Fi wireless networks within an enterprise, across campuses or throughout metropolitan areas.
The panel provides sufficient Wi-Fi coverage for an entire floor and comes with built-in security, management and deployment tools. A 2.4 GHz indoor panel, for example, provides an organisation with a new architecture for deploying 802.11b wireless local area networking (WLAN). It provides an indoor range of up to 300 meters with standard Wi-Fi clients, illuminating a whole floor in a large office building - even through walls and cubicles.
The panel is a flat unit, which resembles a plasma television screen and operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, delivering three simultaneous beams of Wi-Fi. Designed to be wall-mounted, the panel dynamically shapes very narrow beams, about nine degrees each, which transmit and receive Wi-Fi on a packet-by-packet basis to maximize capacity and minimize interference.
A single 2.4 GHz indoor panel can support some 150 enterprise users - tracking active users as they move about the office within its 100 degree field of view. Packaged into the 1.20m x 0.63m x 7.6cm panel are best-of-breed enterprise security, management and deployment tools.
The indoor panel has three layers of advanced security, including 802.1x authentication with per station keys, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Virtual LANs (VLANs). At the Wi-Fi level, Vivato panels support the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) for data privacy and have the hardware required to support the future IEEE 802.11i standard.
The panel is expected to have a profound impact on enterprise networking, similar to the transition from shared Ethernet to switched Ethernet in the past.
For further press information please contact:
Turtle Consulting Group: Wendy Harbutt on 070 7470 7053
Paul Curran on 070 7470 7061
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