There are lots of challenges to workers in the North Slope region of Alaska. Temperatures can drop to 40 below zero (Fahrenheit); workers are forced to move their camp every few weeks; the roads consist of nothing more than enormous sheets of ice; and, oh yeah, these workers can get pretty bored in their downtime and feel awfully disconnected from their friends and families. But now, in order to meet the needs of these oft-beleaguered workers, the Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative is teaming up with Alvarion (News - Alert) Ltd. to provide wireless connectivity in the remotest region of Alaska.
I recently spoke with Jens Laipenieks, manager of sales and business development at ASTAC, about the Alvarion deployment. ASTAC is a member-owned, multiservice cooperative that provides services to villages and oil and gas industry encampments on the remote North Slope of Alaska. Laipenieks described the nomadic lifestyle of these workers, explaining how camps consisting of huge modular structures are disassembled, moved and reconstructed on a regular basis. This constant disassembly and reassembly makes wired Internet less practical, so ASTAC decided it needed to reach out to an expert in wireless deployment.
Since the men and women on the North Slope work such long, grueling hours, morale can be a real issue, according to Laipenieks. So a primary reason for the wireless deployment is to allow workers to relax on their downtime, watching movies, checking e-mails or Skyping with loved ones. There are business uses as well, including safety notifications, training documents and compliance with federal regulations.
Laipenieks stated that ASTAC chose Alvarion because of the company’s strong support. It was good at supporting initial trials, he said. Since ASTAC is a small outfit, it relies heavily on vendors to provide troubleshooting, and Alvarion did so nicely. ASTAC decided to deploy WBS2400 Omnis from Alvarion, and was pleased to see that they were able to hold up in Arctic environments, remaining reliable and trouble free.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman