[Satellite News 10-07-08] Tesacom, Stratos Global and Addvalue Communications delivered the largest single contract for the purchase of Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) services to Brazilian regional elections in remote areas.
Stratos Vice President Ian Canning told Satellite News that Tesacom brought Stratos the opportunity to support the Brazilian elections with a tight deadline. “There were only 29 days between the awarding of the contract and its usage this past weekend,” he said. “In that time period, we had to create a low-cost, manageable solution and test it for the Brazilian Election Board. Then we had to deploy 1,200 unites from Singapore to Brazil in a very short order.”
On top of the short time line, that the size of the order and deployment was also significant. “The order represents about 5 percent of Inmarsat’s total installed customer base of BGAN — the largest single BGAN deal for Inmarsat,” said Canning who added that Stratos and its partners worked closely with Inmarsat to deliver the solution.
“The Brazilians have actually run elections similar to this in the past using handheld technology rather than BGAN service. Because of the data capability on BGAN, it was deemed to be the most appropriate service for the election,” he said.
Addvalue was brought in for cost-management purposes. “We started working with Addvalue to bring the solution together and provide the voting terminal fit the purpose,” said Canning. “The solution was always going to be predicated on having a robust, low-cost terminal device.”
The BGAN terminals were used in municipal elections held in Brazil on Oct. 4-5 in two remote locations along the Brazilian delta. The Brazilian Election Board initially looked at BGAN services to solve accuracy and time issues of past elections.
“The big issue for the municipalities was to ensure accurate collection of votes in a timely fashion across the two deltas that they were trying to support,” said Canning. “In the past, in a lot of cases these terminals were equipped with a PC and an election interface and were often distributed by boat. After the voting process, these boats would then have to travel up rivers and sometimes took two or three days to get to the end polling station. There was no terrestrial or other communications involved at all. For these recent elections, the Stratos Advantage dashboard tools and credit management directed and managed the voting data, which the election board wanted to make sure was extremely secure in only going to a single destination. We actually implemented specific connectivity back into the Brazilian elections board that carried that traffic.”
The elections proved to be a success and opened the door for future election and other municipality business. “Other regional countries have been looking at this as a solution to provide accurate and timely results. We can now use the Brazilian elections as an example, as they were able to announce the winners of the election on the same day as the election using BGAN,” said Canning.
These potential clients, according to Canning, do not include the United States, where the upcoming 2008 presidential election have surfaced fears of vote count inaccuracies due to a large number of new registered voters.
BGAN “has been considered in the United States as a solution for elections, but it is not being adopted at this stage,” said Canning. “The United States could arguably do this with the terrestrial communications that they have proliferated across the whole country. The need for satellite just isn’t there in the same way. It is, however, an interesting technology choice for Brazil.”