Wireless on the waves

Tuesday, 29 January, 2008


Many of the yachts in the 2007 Sydney to Hobart race used new fixed wireless terminals to track competitors and obtain weather updates as they fought their way to the finish line.

High-performance yachts such as Alfa Romeo, Scandia and Leopard installed the Ericsson W25 fixed wireless terminals to communicate with the mainland using high-speed mobile broadband networks.

Fixed wireless terminals that provide high-speed data and voice services are proving ideal for remote communications in the marine environment. Using existing mobile networks to access the internet costs a fraction of using satellite communications, the more traditional communications system at sea. However, satellites are still required to provide access further out from land; for example, across the Bass Strait where coverage from terrestrial networks doesn't extend.

Competitors in the Sydney to Hobart race used the terminals to access the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's website to enable them to monitor the race progress and keep an eye on rivals. They also downloaded the latest weather data to plot the best courses in the long haul to Hobart.

Jeff Lenton, who runs an IT company called Click IT that specialises in providing high-tech communications to the marine industry, installed many of the W25s on the yachts. "Internet access is a valuable tool for today's sailor. Devices like the Ericsson W25 are ideal due to their ruggedness, ease of installation and simplicity of usage," said Lenton.

The Ericsson W25 fixed wireless terminal is a high-speed wireless voice and data gateway and acts like a fixed line alternative or replacement for broadband internet, providing broadband data speeds up to 7.2 Mbps. It connects to a telephone via its RJ11 port while connection to a PC or laptop is via the unit's ethernet, Wi-Fi or USB port.

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