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Voice and data gateway unifies mobile communications for power company via satellite
About the MCG-101
The MCG-101 was designed to provide the most powerful and versatile Iridium communications system to offices, remote locations, aircraft, and maritime. The system provides an intelligent solution using the Iridium satellite network to operate as a telephone, internet gateway, intelligent GPS device, send/receive SMS, and attach to other devices through RS232 and ethernet.
The Customer Situation
A large utility company based in Michigan needed to update their communications infrastructure to support their service teams around the state. With harsh winter storms routinely knocking out power and telephone lines - as well as much of the state being rural or farmland - these teams first and foremost needed reliable voice communication that would operate everywhere. In the past the utility company would do everything over radio handsets located inside vehicles but with ever changing technology they needed a solution that was more robust and offered more than simple push to talk.
Upgrading technology from simple radio handsets to something more robust created a lot of questions for the utility company on what technology would make the most sense for their needs. They would require a knowledgeable partner who could explain the solutions and potential capabilities and monetary requirements. The utility company doing their own research decided that the best solution for their needs would be provided through satellite technology.
Global Satellite Engineering at its core is an engineering firm that consistently looks at technology in telecommunications and telemetry markets and how we can improve upon that technology. Many of our partners produce things like satellite docking stations that can be attached to external antennas or satellite phones that can be used in the field but if we truly wanted to offer a communications solution for the utility company based on their feedback we needed to administer a solution that fulfilled their mobile voice and data needs. This made our own MCG-101 intelligent satellite terminal the right solution for the utility company.
The MCG-101 working on the Iridium satellite constellation met the first requirement of the utility company by providing a solution that works anywhere in any environment with pole-to-pole coverage. The MCG-101 unit, which is also incredibly small, still had a SMA connector allowing the utility company to affix whichever external antenna they required. This meant they could transmit from a service truck or set up a mobile office if needed.
While the MCG-101 offered voice over a traditional handset it also has a mobile app which allowed for the utility companies workers to connect multiple cell phones directly to the device through bluetooth technology. This meant workers in the field could connect their cell phones to a satellite connection regardless of whether there was cellular connectivity or not. The MCG-101 also employed standard analog SIP technology which allowed calls to be routed and control caller interfaces. The MCG-101 also employs ASIC echo cancellation for improved audio call quality. This was a huge upgrade over the older radio handsets the utility company was accustomed to using.
In addition to the telephone aspects of the MCG-101, it also has data and tracking capabilities. This allowed the service teams of the utility company to connect their laptops and computers to the MCG-101 either through WiFi or USB to send documents and emails over the Iridium satellite network. This feature alone created even more viability as a communication solution than any docking station or their old handheld radio units. Finally, the MCG-101 also has tracking capabilities. With Michigan being prone to harsh blizzards where trucks can be lost this gave another way for the utility company to monitor the safety of their service teams and where they were located during storms.
Working with the utility company, GSE was able to suggest and furnish the right hardware to meet their communications needs. By the using the MCG-101, service teams now could relay back to the office using their cell phones regardless of coverage. This meant that the utility companies did not have to train their service teams on new technology. Their service teams could use technology they were already familiar with. The calls that were normally difficult to hear over radio technology were now crystal clear using the MCG-101 unit. The service teams were also able to tap into the data services provisioned through the MCG-101 units. This allowed the service teams to utilize email and stay on top of new information transmitted from other offices. Finally the tracking ability of the MCG-101 units allowed the service teams to operate with less risk as their location was able to be transmitted regardless of how the weather outside was affecting them.
What began as a challenge to upgrade voice communication hardware for the utility company turned into a complete communications solution. This solution now provided the means for the utility company and its service teams to communicate and work anywhere at anytime in any environment. In the end this allowed the utility company to furnish better service and return service faster to their clients.