IT/OT convergence has shaken the way businesses operate from a networking, connectivity and communications perspective. As IT decision makers look to find technology that will support the needs of modern digital networks, it is easy to overlook Radio Frequency (RF) solutions. Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology is a viable option that has been around for decades. With the right solution in place, FHSS technology is reliable and robust enough to get important data from the field back to the central office. With newer, high-speed and high-throughput options, it can be ideal for helping solve modern convergence challenges.
FHSS technology is well-known for its use in OT networks in industrial settings, but the IT side might not be as familiar with the technology. There are a number of myths about FHSS technology that need to be clarified in order for an IT decision maker to understand its potential. Today we’re going to bust three big myths:
Myth One: FHSS Technology is Not Secure Enough for Modern Industrial IoT Networks
900 MHz FHSS technology leverages an unlicensed spectrum which has led to the misperception that it is vulnerable to jamming and DoS attacks. The reality is that the signal is constantly hopping in the spectrum and does not stay on a single frequency for long. This one of its greatest strengths and makes it much more difficult to jam. IT decision makers who are greatly concerned with security should also know that some manufacturers offer two layers of security. The first is the natural built-in protection from the frequency hopping and the second is 128 or 256 bit AES encryption.
Myth Two: Crowded Spectrums Lead to Poor Coverage
Network congestion is a long-standing misperception associated with FHSS technology. Operators are often concerned that performance could be affected in an unlicensed spectrum if too many devices are trying to use it at once. However, the frequency hopping nature of the technology actually serves as a strength. The jumping allows the technology to identify the better channels, even in areas that are known for being noisy and congested. FHSS technology has been proven and trusted by the U.S. military for decades to perform in situations where lives are on the line.
Myth Three: FHSS Technology is Best Suited for Industrial Environments like Oil and Gas
In oil and gas and military circles, FHSS is frequently used and widely known as a strong wireless communication option. However, the technology may not even be on the radar of an IT decision maker tasked with new responsibilities as the OT/IT divide closes. What IT decision makers need to know is that FHSS technology is also currently used in networks completely outside the scope of traditional industrial networking.
Here are a handful of unique ways FHSS is currently being used:
- Oceanic Monitoring and mapping
- Auto and Boat Racing
- Testing for Electric Cars
- Plant Automation
- Asset Tracking in Healthcare
- Golf Course Communications and Golf Cart Monitoring
- Aquarium research
A Good Fit
FHSS technology fits nicely into the evolving technology landscape – especially when data needs to be transported from the access layer back to the business office. Despite the challenges that OT and IT teams face as they learn to work closer together, FHSS remains a proven, reliable option to help bridge the gap.