During emergencies critical infrastructure organizations such as hospitals, emergency response organizations, and power generation facilities must maintain communication capability. Unfortunately, regional emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or man-made emergencies can disable the conventional communications upon which these organizations depend. Outfitter Satellite has provided a brief review of several typical satellite backup solutions including hardware and operational costs.
Both Iridium and Inmarsat systems designed for in-building applications are shown below. These solutions divide into several categories:
- Handheld satellite phones facilitate communications with mobile field workers.
- Vehicular docking stations allow field workers to retain use of their handheld satellite phones even while travelling.
- In-building Docking Stations allow a handheld satellite phone to be used as the primary backup voice communication system for a facility while retaining the flexibility to evacuate that facility with the handheld satellite phone if necessary. Long throw antenna cables are available for applications where the in-building command center is far from the roof where external antennas are usually mounted. Some docking stations have an RJ-11 interface to facilitate integration with conventional phone equipment.
- Fixed-site rack-mountable systems such as the BEAM RST-100 Iridium terminal or BEAM Terra 400 Inmarsat terminal provide a single voice line that can be integrated into existing PABX systems. Iridium also supports conventional G3 fax equipment (special adapter required).
- The Iridium Pilot is a 3-voice line system that has a lower per line hardware and operational cost. If desired, the three lines can be configured into a hunt group, and a U.S. phone number can be assigned to the lead phone number in this hunt group. This can be useful for large command centers where multiple voice lines are necessary.
- Inmarsat BGAN provides both voice and broadband internet in a small portable terminal. Some Inmarsat BGAN terminals support ISDN services. Externally mountable antennas are available for in-building applications, but Inmarsat BGAN terminals may also be transported for personal use.
- Video conferencing software for Windows computers operating over BGAN is available.