Texas law enforcement moves to satellite-based network

The Texas Department of Public Safety is replacing a large part of its communications

system with a satellite network that will connect law enforcement agencies

and give them quicker access to emergency and daily information.

Through the network, up to 1,500 law enforcement offices will be linked

to the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System at DPS headquarters

in Austin. That will give those offices a connection with all state-level

law enforcement agencies, related state offices, including the Department

of Transportation, and federal agencies including the office of the attorney

general, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco

and Firearms.

The very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite network is being supplied

by Hughes Network Systems, Germantown, Md., and offers more reliable and

faster communications applications for law enforcement officials statewide.

It supports two-way data, voice, multimedia and one-way broadcast video,

allowing officers to access everything from criminal histories to drivers'

license information.

"Moving from a traditional, phone-based communications system to a satellite

network increases the speed, versatility and reliability of services offered

through the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System," said DPS director

Thomas Davis, Jr. in a statement. "The possibilities are exciting."

The new system accommodates the legacy functions, but also allows for

new Internet Protocol-based broadband applications to run on the same platform

without affecting the existing systems. All of those activities are conducted

through a Hughes dedicated hub in Austin.

Future possibilities for the new system include distance learning tools,

law enforcement training and videoconferencing, and transmission of graphics

and photos.

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