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INESC TEC develops solution for broadband communications for remote areas in the ocean

In October 2015, INESC TEC’s Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia (CTM) started working on project BLUECOM+, whose goal is to connect humans and systems in remote locations of the ocean using broadband and low-cost communications. The project, led by INESC TEC and coordinated by the researcher Rui Campos, includes the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA, the Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute), and MARLO AS (Norway) as partners.

The goal with project BLUECOM+ is to develop an innovative broadband Internet solution at a low cost to use in remote areas of the ocean. For that, the researchers will use standardised access technology, such as Wi-Fi and 4G. The project will include the specification, implementation and laboratory testing of the communication solution, to ultimately create a prototype that will provide broadband Internet access in remote areas of the ocean, more than 100km away from the coast, as opposed to satellite communications.

The concept is based on the use of helium balloons anchored, for example, on buoys, boats or wind parks, forming a flying meshed broadband network operating in the frequencies  of analogue TV, in order to guarantee long-range radio connections.

Activities that can benefit from communications at sea include the exploitation of mineral resources on the ocean bed, environmental monitoring, or more traditional activities such as fisheries or maritime transportation. In this context, communications should facilitate the dissemination of data collected by fixed and mobile platforms in a maritime environment, namely buoys and autonomous surface and underwater vehicles, besides providing access to Internet services and applications to users at sea, similarly to what happens on shore.

This project is closely related to project ENDURE, which also started in October of this year. In ENDURE, the goal is to develop an underwater docking station for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) in order to enable the presence in remote locations at sea for long periods of time.

The BLUECOM+ is funded by the EEA Grants and will have a duration of 15 months. The project focuses on the maritime communications research line  that has been pursued at CTM since 2012, and is particularly aligned with INESC TEC’s TEC4SEA initiative. The INESC TEC team involved in the project also includes collaborators from the Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CROB).

The researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with INESC TEC.

INESC TEC, December 2015

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