The company is working to create a wireless broadband connection for support vessels servicing the oil and gas industry in the North Sea. Broadband will mean that vital telemetry and telecommand can be delivered instantly to the ships; at present, the information they need mostly goes via satellite, and the associated quality of service can be problematic in such an extreme working environment. In addition, the new service will provide crews with the home comforts of email, Skype and Facebook.
ATDI is collaborating with Tampnet which has a 2500km large network of fibre optic cables and fixed radio links linking North Sea rigs to each other and to five landing points on shore. The new project involves connecting the support vessels and platforms via the fibre links and a wireless broadband coverage area around selected fixed assets. Tampnet has asked ATDI to plan and model the proposed service and to negotiate a test and development licence with UK regulator Ofcom.
“It’s an interesting challenge,” comments ATDI Managing Director Cyprien de Cosson. “The North Sea is where British and Norwegian regulation and signals meet so there is a large degree of judicious preparation required to make sure there are no international inference issues – particularly as we are dealing with vessels that cross the political boundaries at will.”
Cyprien notes the advantages of terrestrial broadband over the satellite systems. “While satellites can provide coverage anywhere, the limited bandwidth and relatively long delays will be limiting,” he says. “And, while high throughput, low latency and jitter may not matter in many working environments, when you are dealing with oil and gas under pressure and trying to do it in a force 10 gale, it becomes a lot more significant.”
ATDI and Tampnet intend that the test and development licence can be upgraded to a permanent one once systems have been assessed. “A permanent licence will involve spectrum sharing and that is ATDI’s forte,” Cyprien comments.
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