Mobile Voice and Data Terminals
A long time ago, a good friend of mine in disaster recovery made the following observation about restoring voice as opposed to restoring data communications. He said it didn’t make any difference because voice is really data, and data is really data, too. Any questions?
All kidding aside, this is a true statement. A 64Kbs-per-second path can be just as easily used to transmit a 64Kbs data circuit as a human voice. And yes, because your voice is digitized in the process, it is really data. In fact, satellite providers are very clever about this fact. A typical telephone circuit is 64Kbs, but a very understandable human voice can be transmitted in as few as 4–8Kbs. That’s an 8–16x advantage. On terrestrial communications with bountiful capacity who cares? On satellite, however, such compression technologies mean that more capacity can be provisioned to more users for lower cost.
Some users want to use a portion of their satellite capacity for data. Today, mobile broadband Global Area Networks can be leased that are capable of moving e-mail, providing Internet access, conducting transaction processing, and performing a host of other applications that go beyond voice. Data speeds of up to 492Kbs or more can be provisioned from mobile equipment with a pizza pan–sized dish. Streaming data rates are also possible at up to 256Kbs. This does not sound like a lot when compared with terrestrial SONET carriers, T1, T3, and the like, but think about what you will be doing with it. You will not be instantly replacing your infrastructure, you will primarily be using this for b4Ci, remember? A 492Kbs circuit will move one hell of a lot of e-mails. A 256Kbs streaming data rate will nail up a fairly respectable video conference, or even transmit a critical x-ray image from a disaster area if you are willing to wait a little while. Think about it. First responders would be in a position to speak to their leadership in real time while sending them video feeds of the disaster area. That’s b4Ci on steroids if you ask me! These terminals come in suitcases, backpacks, or in automobile mounted versions. I kind of like the idea of the auto mounted version. In addition to mobility there are no worries about batteries as long as you can get gasoline and keep the motor running.