GSM coverage in Antartica


If you needed any more proof of the popularity of cell phones, this would be it. The maritime, aeronautical and remote communications solutions company, Altobridge, has installed a Remote GSM Solution at Australia’s Antarctic station for its resident scientific team at ‘Casey’ on the continent’s Bailey Peninsula. The Altobridge solution can operate as a standard GSM service and is specifically designed for remote, cost-effective, community communication. The system consists of a standard GSM BTS (Base Transceiver System) and a remote server running Altobridge’s patented AM Gateway Platform. This server interfaces to the BTS and manages the local GSM handsets and also interfaces with the available satellite link, in this case the ANARESAT (an Intelsat service) network connecting back to Hobart, Tasmania.

This trial service will enable the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to experience the benefits of remote wireless communications and provides vital feedback to the Altobridge R&D team in Ireland, answering some important questions, including:

* The range of coverage of the system;
* Radio Frequency penetration into buildings and vehicles;
* The system’s potential to send out alerts, alarms, etc. - a key requirement for AAD and a vital component of Altobridge’s maritime systems offering, i.e. remote device monitoring;
* The suitability of externally-mounted components for extreme weather conditions, e.g. winter operation (-30�C).

CEO of Altobridge, Mike Fitzgerald, said, “This implementation of the Altobridge AM Gateway Platform in the Antarctic demonstrates that there is no site too remote, no conditions too extreme and most importantly no ROI outside the reach of our solution. Viable small-community communication for subscribers of less than 100 is now available to operators.”

The system was installed at Casey by the station personnel; it configures automatically and has a special operation and maintenance capability for remote support. In this case, support came from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) based in Hobart, Tasmania and the Altobridge support team based in Ireland.