Satellite speeds Internet to the field
- By Brian Robinson
- Mar 11, 2002
A new satellite system that provides up to 2 megabit/sec data rates and
offers true broadband Internet service in remote locations is expected to
be formally introduced this month and has already been used by firefighters
in rural California.
The firefighters used the system, from San Diego-based Tachyon Inc.,
to access Web applications for planning logistics and operational strategies
across the many teams fighting a 5,700-acre fire that ignited in the southern
California community of Fallbrook in early February.
Tachyon's mobile network access provided the California Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection with high-quality broadband communications
at a remote site for the first time, said Curt Itson, the CDF's battalion
"[Internet service] has traditionally done poorly over satellite due
to latency, noise issues and so on," said Jeremy Guralnick, Tachyon's chief
scientist. "If you split a 1 megabit/sec cable in two and put regular satellite
communications between the two, you'd maybe get 20 percent of the available
throughput. With our system you can get up to 78 percent."
The system can take several hours to set up initially, depending on
how long it takes to get the system's dish lined up with the satellite.
Other than that, however, it's simply a case of hooking computers into the
Tachyon system through standard IEEE 802.11 wireless local-area network
Tachyon provides the satellite system box and a monthly subscription
service, priced according to the data rate needs of the customer.
The current 2 megabits/sec ceiling "is somewhat of an artificial constraint
and was picked more for marketing reasons because that's what people told
us they needed," Guralnick said. "But we do have much bigger pipes available."
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.