ESRL Global Systems Division

NOAA Profiler Network Tests Low-Cost Satellite Communications

With funding provided by the NOAA High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) program, FSL's Demonstration Division is testing low-cost two-way satellite communications for the NOAA Profiler Network (NPN) remote site data acquisition and system control. Though satellite communications technology is not brand new, many vendors are now offering connectivity to the Internet via satellite at attractive prices. If this study proves the dependability of low-cost satellite Internet communications for real-time remote site data acquisition and system control, it could result in cost savings for the NPN. Communications costs could be reduced by 50%, and some constraints to future site selection could be eased considerably for the NPN and other programs and projects throughout the government.

Primary NPN communication is currently provided over point-to-point land-based telecommunications. Though the service provider has established high reliability over the years, land-based telecommunications costs are expected to rise significantly as rates increase by the current service provider and their competitors. Meanwhile, two-way satellite-based communications technology is readily available which has the potential of providing plenty of bandwidth to meet foreseeable needs at approximately half the cost of the current NPN land-based communications.

Testing of the communications technology is being conducted over a 12-month period at four geographically dispersed NPN sites, chosen with various weather patterns taken into account. The sites selected are Medicine Bow, Wyoming; Wood Lake, Minnesota; Haviland, Kansas; and DeQueen, Arkansas. Four independent vendors provide the satellite Internet services for these sites. One vendor is a rural electric cooperative association, and the other three are value added resellers of satellite Internet communications. Test results will be available by late summer 2004.

Contact information
Name: Bobby R Kelley
Tel: 303-497-5635