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Spotlight: Hurricanes Drive Customers To Satellites

By | July 14, 2003

      Damaging winds from hurricanes and tropical storms are prompting oilrig platform operators to replace less robust microwave towers with satellite communications. That is the word from Errol Olivier, president of CapRock Communications, a Houston-based satellite telecommunications service for the Gulf Coast’s drilling industry.

      When a hurricane or tropical storm approaches, oil platforms often must be shut down to let workers move to safety. Drilling ships also must evacuate the storm path to find calmer waters.

      Predictions about when and where to move can be imprecise, given the tendency of hurricanes to change course unexpectedly.

      “Whether a storm is small or a full-blown hurricane, if it damages just a single microwave site – a part of the daisy chain of repeater sites – that could mean as much as a week or a month of minimal or no communications to every site down the line,” Olivier said.

      “Satellites were built with remote and harsh environments in mind, and when the network topology is properly engineered, the reliability is far superior to that of microwave networks during severe wind and storm surges,” Olivier explained.

      –Paul Dykewicz

      (Errol Olivier, CapRock Communications, 281/482-0289)

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