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This article was written by Pierre Fogal and James Drummond, of PEARL, with additional contributions from Galaxy and OneWeb.
The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) (https://www.pearl-candac.ca), based in Eureka, is part of the third-northernmost permanent research community in the world. To get there you travel to Ellesmere Island, the northernmost point of land in Canada and, at pprox.. 80 degrees N., one of the northernmost points of land on the planet.
Perhaps not surprisingly, PEARL’s Arctic location poses unique challenges to the communications infrastructure and network solutions typically expected and required for effective and safe operations at a scientific facility.
The only way to communicate with PEARL and the world, which is everywhere “south” as far as PEARL is concerned, has been via satellite-based systems. For approximately 17 years, this was achieved through a geostationary C-band link – a complex and expensive installation.
PEARL’s communications link serves many critical needs. Primarily, these include telephony, remote operations, and data transfer. PEARL’s laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation used to measure atmospheric properties from the Earth’s surface to the edge of space and is unique in the Canadian Arctic for its measurement capabilities.
More than 25 instruments produce many gigabytes of data per day. It is a core requirement for PEARL that these data be made available to researchers in the south for analysis as quickly as possible, and that they are securely archived. Many of the instruments have a remote operation capability that permits scientists in the south to operate the instrument in conjunction with operators onsite.
The data flow for PEARL is mainly up to the satellite and then to the rest of the world and so a high up-link bandwidth is essential. The link must also provide internet access not only for PEARL but for other services nearby, including the Eureka Weather Station. Access to the network is very important for the community’s well-being, as it allows for contact via social media with family, and friends, and connection with other aspects of life that must be managed even while resident in the High Arctic.
PEARL also supports the communications needs for visitors to Eureka, among them video production teams that film then transfer large amounts of data south for broadcast production.
Given the many different needs, integrating a low Earth orbit satellite link into PEARL’s system requires careful management of traffic; different priorities are assigned to the different uses.
The aim is to keep the southbound up-link fully occupied at all times but to give priority to immediate needs and defer less immediate tasks.
“Today, we are able to access the high-speed, low-latency communications services provided by low Earth orbit satellite connectivity,” states James Drummond, Professor at University of Toronto. “Our provider Galaxy Broadband, with OneWeb, has enabled us to have a high-bandwidth experience, with less cost and with far lower latency.
“The addition of this link allows us to greatly expand our data transfer capacity, so we have a much better response when controlling instruments remotely and can allow our personnel to make use of streaming technologies for meetings and personal contacts.” comments Pierre Fogal, PEARL site manager. “This connection will enhance the two-way communication we have between our on-site staff and the south.”
Canadians are among the first to benefit from space-based connectivity, as new, low Earth orbit network technology continues to evolve at high speed.
Galaxy Broadband, one of the world’s first distribution partners to integrate with the OneWeb system, has been on this journey from the start, according to Howard Stanley, OneWeb’s VP for the Americas.
He says: “Together, Galaxy and OneWeb have an unrivalled level of expertise and communications technology to offer, and we are transforming connectivity for communities across Canada, including remote locations like Eureka, and research stations like PEARL.”
As a leading low Earth orbit satellite communications company, OneWeb is committed to unleashing the potential of high-speed, low-latency connectivity that is needed around the world.
Galaxy provides the upstream network for OneWeb across Canada, connecting its valued clients to the internet through two points-of-presence (POPs), in Calgary and Toronto.
“We are delighted that everyone stationed at PEARL now can access high-speed connectivity with low latency, not just for the long-term benefit of valuable scientific research, but also for themselves and their community,” adds Howard.
Galaxy also offers clients SmartSite, a range of value-added services and solutions, including a 24/7 managed service of IT networks that handles security, site-wide connections, monitoring and reporting, network design and consulting, commercial installation, and maintenance.
Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get connected.[email protected]