Mobile Satellite Service
Even a general discussion of satellite service is not complete without an overview of Mobile Satellite Service, or MSS, which allows the use of portable satellite phones and data terminals. The equipment is often so small that even handheld satellite devices are becoming commonplace. In theory, at least, handheld satellite phones and broadband data terminals can provide virtual worldwide coverage. It does not take a whole lot of imagination to envision just how handy this technology might be for command and control after a disaster.
The use of MSS has a few disadvantages however. For instance, you generally need to be outside to use it because it requires a clear line of sight to the satellite. It’s a disaster; you will probably need a cigarette anyway—if not something stronger. Seriously, however, there are already a few vendors tackling this problem by installing antennae on rooftops of enterprise customers and crossbanding equipment that converts a satellite link to POTS service, or two wire loop or ground start trunks that can connect to an inside phone, or PBX. With regard to the data devices, unless the weather is really bad it is still possible to walk outside, download your email, and then come back in to read it in the comfort of your office. The important thing is to think these issues through in advance, be resourceful, and mull over where these various technologies fit into your plan.