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In today’s tough economy and highly competitive marketplace, businesses are constantly looking for new ways to maintain their competitive edge. Retailers are especially challenged to attract new customers and retain existing ones by putting information at customers’ fingertips to help them make informed purchases. Otherwise, they run the risk of customers using their stores as a show floor for Amazon.com and other online retailers. In addition, businesses must attract mobile-enabled, netsavvy customers who expect ubiquitous social networking touch points. And they must train and retain good employees who lend a strong face to the company brand.
New technologies and applications offer great promise in helping to meet these challenges. Indeed, the trend toward technological innovations will change the landscape of tomorrow’s stores. But as businesses adopt rich, exciting applications such as guest Wi-Fi and customer-facing digital signage, they also need to ensure their networks can keep up with the growing bandwidth and server needs of these new applications.
In January, at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 101st Annual Convention & Expo in New York, Hughes offered a sneak peek into how the “Store of the Future” is already taking shape with new technologies and fully managed services that help boost sales, improve efficiencies, and solve network problems. Here’s what it looks like:
Enhancing the Customer Experience
Interactive Kiosks As customers enter the store, they are greeted by an interactive Digital Sales Associate touchscreen with a way-finder to help them better locate what they are looking for, and an “Ask an Associate” touchscreen to answer questions on demand.
Digital Merchandising Throughout the store, rich-media digital signage supports merchandise displays with dynamic video and graphics that engage and inform customers. Merchants promote brands, specials, and social media tie-ins, easily changing content based on demographics or time of day.
Mobile Marketing Tech-savvy customers enjoy a faster, more engaging customer experience via highly secure Wi-Fi access and rich-media content streamed to their smartphones and tablets. Associates with mobile devices deftly serve customers on the floor.
Improving the Employee Experience
Hughes MediaTraining™ Retailers train employees through engaging video-on-demand and live content, and track program completion to ensure employees have the product knowledge they need. Training content can be easily created and viewed using handheld tablets like the Apple iPad®. Plus, the system doubles as a Digital Bulletin Board when not in use for training.
Hughes Breakroom TV™ Improving employee morale with infotainment, Hughes Breakroom TV entertains and informs employees with live TV and tailored store information such as employee awards and contests.
Digital Bulletin Board Employees get the latest company announcements with the Digital Bulletin Board, which doubles as a training tool at the click of a button.
Strengthening the Back Office
Hughes Branch Cloud Bringing the benefits of virtualization to the remote branch, the Hughes Branch Cloud collapses multiple single-purpose servers into one—reducing power, footprint, and capital costs, and eliminating costly server sprawl.
Hughes Enterprise VoIP With high-quality, business-grade voice over affordable broadband, Hughes VoIP delivers convergence at one-third the cost of typical MPLS solutions. Providing Quality of Service via Hughes ActiveQoS™ technology, the service offers advanced calling features and flat-rate pricing.
Hughes Managed Security Services With PCI-compliant architectures that keep company and customer data secure, Hughes Managed Security Services offers wireless rogue scanning, LAN Segmentation for POS and guest Wi-Fi traffic, and managed firewall, as well as supporting network-within-network configurations for third-party applications. Powering the Store of the Future
“At Hughes, we’ve been fortunate to work closely with many of the top names in retail to build new technology infrastructures that will support the retail experience of the future,” said Doug Medina, senior director of enterprise marketing at Hughes. “These leading companies are always looking at ways to improve the customer experience. Now, with our technological innovations and fully managed services, we are well-positioned to help retailers build their own store of the future—today.”
For more information about the Store of the Future, visit Enterprise.hughes.com/retail.
Educating over 20,000 students annually, Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Tomsk, Russia is the first and largest university in Siberia. Now, taking its investment in training Russia’s future technology and business leaders to an even higher level, TPU has opened the first Satellite Technology Education Center in Russia in collaboration with the Scientific Industrial Center (STRELA) and Hughes.
“Establishing this Satellite Technology Education Center is an important strategic step for the university, and the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Hughes and STRELA which I’m confident will significantly enhance access of students and postgraduate students to the most cutting edge technologies,” said Professor Michael Sonkin, vice rector and director, Cybernetic Institute, Tomsk Polytechnic University. “In addition, using advanced Hughes satellite networking technology will enable us to reach the broader community with distance learning and offer a wider range of services to regional and federal organizations and agencies, such as forest fire monitoring across Siberia.”
Arunas Slekys, vice president and general manager, Russia & CIS at Hughes, commented, “Hughes is proud to be a sponsor of this very worthwhile initiative and to collaborate with TPU and STRELA in helping to expand the know-how and capabilities of satellite broadband technologies and services in Siberia. Investing in training future technology and business leaders underscores our commitment and leadership in Russia, where to date we’ve shipped over 45,000 broadband satellite terminals, representing more than 50 percent market share, and now also count TPU as a valued service provider customer.”
At Hughes, the excitement is palpable. Work teams are now in final preparations for the launch of ECHOSTAR® XVII, the company’s next-generation Ka-band satellite with JUPITER™ high-throughput technology. Designed to deliver well in excess of 100 Gbps throughput, this powerful broadband satellite system is once again evidence of Hughes technology leadership and will bring high-speed Internet access to over 1.5 million consumer and small business subscribers of HughesNet® service in North America.
Scheduled for launch this summer from from the European Teleport in French Guiana by Arianespace, ECHOSTAR XVII’s capacity is equal to approximately 80 Ku-band satellites. Employing a multi-spot beam, bent-pipe architecture, the new geostationary satellite will expand the total capacity for HughesNet service to over 2 million in North America, which today at over 620,000 subscribers represents both the world’s largest consumer satellite Internet service and the largest Ka-band technology network.
Countdown... Three…Two…One… Look for up-to-the-minute details of this exciting satellite launch—coming your way this summer.
Today, the Internet has transformed the way people communicate, the way they work and do business, and the way they are entertained. But even as the world embraces the digital age, more than half its population is still not connected to the Web and is at risk of being left behind in the fast moving 21st century economy. And this ”digital divide” is not limited to developing countries alone.
According to “Exploring the Digital Nation,” a U.S. Department of Commerce report published in November 2011, only 57 percent of rural households in the U.S. have broadband Internet access, compared to 70 percent of urban households. An important factor in this disparity is the estimated 14 to 24 million American households and small businesses that are either unserved or underserved by DSL, cable, or other terrestrial technologies. The good news is that satellite broadband, which is available virtually everywhere, is making a vital difference in such communities.
HughesNet®, the world’s largest high-speed satellite Internet service, serves over 620,000 subscribers in North America, helping to close this digital divide. And working with Hughes to bridge the gap are national sales agents—partner companies that help bring HughesNet to consumers and small businesses nationwide.
Serving as the voice to the consumer, sales agents come in all shapes and sizes—from a five-seat call center to a large business with staff and offices across the country. Acting as consultative representatives, sales agents market to consumers and small businesses and educate them on what HughesNet is and how it works. An important part of what sales agents do is determine how potential customers would use the Internet once they have high-speed access, enabling agents to make recommendations on the best service plan to meet their needs.
Many HughesNet sales agents also offer complementary products such as satellite TV or home security products, creating one-stop shopping for consumers who might need multiple services. For sales agents, this arrangement offers built-in upselling opportunities. As an example, when speaking to a satellite TV prospect, simply asking the question, “How do you connect to the Internet?” opens the door to a potential HughesNet sale.
Headquartered just outside Charlotte, North Carolina, Red Ventures, for example, is a top national sales agent for HughesNet that built its small, garagebased business into a thriving customer acquisition company with 1,200 employees. Marketing similar services like DTH satellite TV and home monitoring systems makes HughesNet a natural fit for Red Ventures.
“The Hughes team is a smart, thoughtful group with a strong focus on strategic thinking that comes through from the sales management team all the way to the executives,” said Jason Carlock, senior vice president of Red Ventures. “Hughes is the leader in consumer satellite broadband, and we deeply trust the direction in which they are going, giving us confidence in our investment.”
“Red Ventures is a leader in its field, and we highly value them as a partner,” said Allen McCabe, vice president of North America Channel Sales for Hughes. “Sales agents like Red Ventures are an important link in the HughesNet sales channel. That’s why we provide lucrative sales agent programs and incentives to stay competitive in the marketplace with attractive customer promotions.”
In addition, Hughes provides a high-quality fulfillment team for installation, assuring sales agents that their customers’ orders are installed by the same certified technicians used by Hughes for its direct customers.
In September 2011, Hughes held its 2nd Annual HughesNet Summit for resellers. The event gave sales agents and other resellers an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with the Hughes team, discuss ideas and common issues, and plan for the future. A hot topic was preparing for the Hughes next-generation, 100+ Gbps satellite—ECHOSTAR® XVII with JUPITER™ high-throughput technology, which will be launched in the summer of 2012 and deliver HughesNet high-speed broadband service to between 1.5 and 2 million subscribers.
“Hughes has a passionate team that matches our equally passionate group at Red Ventures,” said Hallie Kilmer, marketing manager at Red Ventures. “We walked away from the summit rejuvenated, excited, and confident in the management team at Hughes. We also found it beneficial to interact with the distributors and dealers in the installation network to see how we can work together and join efficiencies to be mutually beneficial.”
“Today, HughesNet has over 60 percent share of the consumer satellite Internet market, and we plan for continued growth with new products and services,” added McCabe. “We’ve maintained our leadership position by providing our customers with the service tools and new customer initiatives to create the best satellite broadband experience available, and by relying on our sales agents out on the front lines of the digital divide to do what they do best—serving as our voice to the customer.”
For more information on joining the growing network of HughesNet resellers, please visit http://wwwnt16.hns.com/dealer_inquiry/index.cfm.
Delivering enterprise-grade broadband services to areas with limited landline infrastructure, or to far-flung operations such as maritime or oil and gas exploration, has always presented challenges. A decade ago, most operators simply could not justify expending the resources to build out networks to serve these remote locations. All that began to change in the mid-2000s when the newly introduced Hughes HX System became the affordable answer to delivering high-quality services in smaller networks, enabling both landline and mobile operators to operate their own systems—no matter how remote the area.
Now, with the release of HX System 4.0, Hughes is raising the bar for advanced satellite networks, bringing significant technology enhancements to the HX System that enable even higher performance and efficiency. These enhancements support the needs of a wide range of markets, including enterprise networking, IP trunking, 3G/4G cellular backhaul, Virtual Network Operator (VNO) hosting, and Comms- On-The-Move for airborne/maritime/ land, including defense and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).
Internet usage is exploding around the world via a myriad of fixed and mobile devices—laptops, tablets, smartphones, and the like, which is quickly exhausting available address space under the current Internet access protocol, IPv4. As a result, IPv6, the next-generation protocol developed to replace IPv4, has become a critical issue for operators.
HX System 4.0 addresses this challenge with a dual-stack IPv6/IPv4 design, which enables the simultaneous support of both protocols. This means that operators can smoothly transition to IPv6 while continuing to support their installed base of IPv4 customers and devices, effectively future-proofing their operations.
HX System 4.0 introduces two key features that bring even greater efficiency and lower costs to operators. On the forward channel, implementation of Generic Stream Encapsulation (GSE) delivers up to 14 percent efficiency improvement. On the return channel, Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) coding, combined with Hughes adaptive coding, enables up to 33 percent efficiency improvement over Turbo Codes.
Two new satellite broadband routers come with HX System 4.0:
The HX90 is an all-new, high performance satellite router featuring up to 5,000 packets per second and up to 15 Mbps of TCP throughput. Paired with a compact outdoor unit representing the latest in a highly integrated radio filter design and available in either Ku-or Ka-band, the HX90 offers enhanced reliability and a single cable IFL that simplifies installation. The HX50L, an enhanced version of the popular HX50, includes support for LDPC return channels, and is intended primarily for C-band markets.
The HX200 series, including the HX200, HX260 and HX280, have all been performance-boosted to enable throughputs similar to the HX90. These technology upgrades provide operators with best-in-class throughput and efficiency to deliver high-grade services to their customers.
For military and defense organizations, HX System 4.0 provides key functionality and specific operational frequencies to support the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system. The system, which has a WGS certification pending, includes a comprehensive set of enhanced mobility features, such as integrated Doppler correction, automatic beam switching, and enhanced return channel spreading.
Integral to all HX Systems is the industry-leading HX ExpertNMS™, a full-featured network management system that employs an intuitive graphical interface and an advanced set of monitoring and diagnostic features, enabling efficient management and optimization of network performance—even by inexperienced users, whether in a commercial or military environment.
Now with HX System 4.0, HX ExpertNMS has been upgraded to provide enhanced management capabilities for VNOs. This new capability enables a VNO to monitor and control elements within its operational service domain, allowing a wholesale network operator to effectively partition its network and provide complete control to private users of these partitions.
“We are excited to bring our wide range of operator, enterprise, and military customers the extensive benefits of HX System 4.0 for fixed and on-the-move broadband satellite solutions,” said Dave Rehbehn, senior director, International Division, Hughes. “Supporting the full range of C-, Ku- and Ka-band frequencies, HX System 4.0 is the ideal choice across all specialty and mobility market sectors.”
“With even higher performance and efficiency, the HX System enables AltegroSky to offer our clients the high level of services they demand at price points that meet their budget,” said Sergey Pekhterev, CEO of AltegroSky Group, a leading Hughes authorized service provider in Russia.
Commercially available in July, the HX System 4.0 brings operators the competitive edge to better serve their customers in even the hardest-to-reach areas around the world, with the highest performance and efficiency possible.
Hughes has once again been cited by COMSYS, a leading satellite industry research organization, as the dominant provider in both enterprise and consumer segments of the satellite networking industry. The recently published COMSYS VSAT Report, 12th Edition, credits Hughes with 49.8 percent market share in the global enterprise terminal market—double that of its nearest competitor. According to Simon Bull, senior analyst at COMSYS, “Hughes’ presence casts a shadow over almost every player in the market. Its dominance of the enterprise VSAT industry is remarkable in the fact that the company has been able to sustain its lead for over 20 years and that it has rolled with the punches and constantly responded with new developments which have kept it at the forefront of an intensely competitive market.”
The report adds, “Hughes is the final word in vertical integration. It builds its entire ground segment (with the exception of the antennas); sells, operates and manages its own service; and now owns its own satellites. It alone has a highly successful service business that fuels its manufacturing arm and challenges its engineers to improve product performance and quality while driving down costs.”
Now Hughes customers can easily produce powerful displays on the world’s most popular tablet platform! Using the new Hughes Template Builder on the Apple iPad™, customers can create sophisticated displays to be delivered over Hughes MediaSignage systems, enabling enterprises to manage distribution of digital content to employees and customers in a rich-media experience. Hughes MediaSignage is an intuitive system for creating, scheduling, managing, and distributing digital content throughout an enterprise. Administrators create and schedule programs, which include content, layout, and playlist information, to be played at appropriate times and locations as determined by the administrator.
AltegroSky, Russia’s largest privately held satellite service provider, last year expanded its Hughes-powered network to over 10,000 sites by taking delivery of more than 5,000 HN and HX terminals and two network operations centers. Beyond offering a wide range of high-speed satellite services to enterprises and government agencies, including retail gas stations, railroads, and exploration sites, as well as for Internet points-of-presence across Russia’s heartland, AltegroSky initiated an affordable consumer broadband satellite Internet service. According to Sergey Pekhterev, CEO of AltegroSky, “Using reliable Hughes technology and learning from the success of their consumer business in the U.S., we developed an entire ‘Made-in-Russia’ eco-system to bring affordable high-speed Internet to people in their dachas and country homes.”
Many government agencies in the U.S. have numerous offices of different sizes, highly distributed across a region, a state, or even nationwide. Connecting them to support the ever-expanding need for broadband applications has typically meant resorting to expensive MPLS networks using dedicated T1 access lines, no matter the office size or location. Besides costing several hundred dollars monthly on average for each T1 line, this one-size-fits-all approach has the recurring problem of slow downloading and access to cloud services whenever the network is throttled by the limited bandwidth of a T1 line.
But now there is a cost-effective alternative—by taking advantage of the many benefits of a single managed broadband service. Based on a tailored approach that starts with a rigorous site-by-site analysis, the Hughes National Managed Broadband Service maximizes the use of viable existing facilities integrated with new broadband technologies and security platforms to deliver the most secure and cost-effective mix of DSL, cable, wireless, and satellite broadband access at all locations. Replacing expensive MPLS networks, the Hughes solution employs a Converged Broadband Architecture (CBA) with a powerful, new enabling technology called Hughes ActiveQoS™, resulting in affordable, high-quality broadband connectivity in all field offices—across the city, the state, or the country. It complements the “big pipe” networks typically used to connect headquarters with large regional offices, and is particularly valuable for small and medium-sized field offices that need to connect to the agency’s cloud and meet mandated requirements for telework.
“We look at Hughes National Managed Broadband Service as a viable T1 replacement strategy for federal and state government agencies,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of government solutions at Hughes. “It provides the power, the flexibility, and the cost savings potential of broadband in a managed way that’s never been offered to agencies before. With huge budget cuts facing agencies this year, the cost savings alone offers a compelling reason to move to this new architecture.”
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently awarded Hughes a task order to deliver managed broadband services to 300 offices and inspection sites. Much of the mission-critical work of the FSIS is conducted in field offices across the country, which in the past, were connected using multiple providers.
Employing its CBA, Hughes will provide multiple-access (DSL and cable) technologies under one nationally managed broadband network for all 300 sites. As a result, FSIS will save significant taxpayer dollars by eliminating the need to purchase special access lines and MPLS ports in remote locations.
Hughes will provide a cost-effective solution at all sites, replacing FSIS’s existing telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, with the increased bandwidth available using broadband technologies, FSIS will be able to quickly communicate Humane Activity Tracking information and utilize applications to ensure the adequate treatment of livestock, as well as access eGovernment resources, such as AgLearn for training.
The comprehensive Hughes solution will provide managed delivery of broadband services, integrated and consolidated billing, turnkey implementation with online status reporting, and 24x7 monitoring and notification. The solution also includes monitoring and management of contractor-provided network equipment, nationwide same-day, onsite field maintenance and help desk support, as well as network solution design and specification.
Citizens depend on their government agencies to provide services, and government agencies in turn depend on their networks to meet their missions. Now, with the Hughes National Managed Broadband Service, there is no such thing as an agency, field office, or home office that’s too remote for secure, managed broadband service coverage. No T1s required.
At Hughes Communications India, Ltd. (HCIL), there’s not much we love more than a challenge. According to the COMSYS 2011 report, “India is by far the worst country in which to do business for the vendors,” a colossal challenge—even to us. Still, it’s music to our ears when COMSYS goes on to say, “Hughes is the heart and soul of the VSAT business in India.” So goes the journey of a satellite service provider in a developing country like India, which is still figuring out profitable competitiveness, regulatory pitfalls, and customer expectations after 20 years of economic liberalization.
Headquartered outside New Delhi, HCIL began commercial operation in 1995, and we’ve been growing steadily ever since, including double-digit growth in 2011. With more than 220 employees today, we have sales and support offices in major cities such as Bombay, Calcutta, and Bangalore, and hubs in New Delhi and Hyderabad. To date we’ve deployed more than 100,000 broadband satellite terminals, representing over 60 percent of deployments throughout the country.
At HCIL, we take the Hughes innovation and pioneering spirit beyond traditional connectivity to new market segments and applications as they become relevant in this rapidly developing economy. Whether it’s the first digital cinema distribution, setting up education services using satellite technology, or building nationwide e-services kiosks for bridging the digital divide in unserved areas, the Hughes spirit of innovative solutions and pushing boundaries has served us well.
Let’s take a look at the key markets HCIL serves and the broadband drivers that are fueling our growth.
Worldwide, Hughes has built its leadership in broadband satellite networks and services on the enterprise market. In India, key enterprise sectors include banking, education, media, manufacturing, and retail. From the start, Hughes took the lead in this market, bolstered by a poor telecom infrastructure and a large appetite of enterprises for workable, sustainable data communication networks. Hughes has been a pioneer in integrating business process software for large enterprises and banks such Unilever, Philips, and Bank of America. Whether for the first SAP (systems, applications, and products) implementation in the manufacturing sector, or “anywhere banking” in a leading private sector bank, or deployment of the first ATMs in the country—it was always Hughes.
The fast-growing banking industry, for example, is leveraging our fully managed satellite and terrestrial broadband solutions to help close the significant digital and financial divide created by a lack of infrastructure in rural and remote areas. HCIL currently powers more than 30,000 sites, including 15,000 bank branches and 15,000 ATMs for numerous banks, including the State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, and the Central Bank of India, supporting 1 billion ATM transactions and 150 million credit card transactions annually. Meanwhile, in the popular land of Bollywood, we’re extending the reach of traditional media, delivering digital cinema to more than 4,000 theaters, representing about 60 percent of market share.
But it’s not just large enterprises that need broadband services. Another growing market is the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. HCIL has established a robust distribution model to provide broadband Internet by satellite in unserved and underserved areas to single-site customers ranging from small businesses, to schools and institutions, to mining and project sites in far-flung areas.
The Indian government has a strong commitment to rural development, which it supports with a range of e-governance programs and resources. For example, the government supports many distance education programs, including Edusat, the world’s first satellite dedicated strictly to education, providing daily education to over 2,500 schools in 14 states through Hughes satellite technology. Likewise, agri-service programs bring Hughes high-speed Internet access by satellite to farmers in rural areas, providing access to the latest pricing, markets, and trends. HCIL also set up India’s Crime and Criminal Tracking Network, the country’s largest police network with more than 1,000 sites, and provides defense command and control networks for the Indian Navy and Army. Similarly, we’re keeping Indian Railways—the fourth largest rail network in the world—on track with an advanced network that automates freight management, provides accident relief trains, and manages unreserved ticketing. In the future, we plan to work with Indian Railways to provide Internet access on trains.
To help meet the challenge of providing Internet access to a population of over 1 billion, HCIL developed a highly successful franchise kiosk model called HughesNet® Fusion in participation with the government to bring affordable broadband by satellite to millions of people in villages and towns. The kiosks enable access to many services such as obtaining birth certificates, land records, and driver’s licenses, as well as distance education.
In 2002, HCIL made the strategic decision to grow its education segment. Satellite is the perfect fit to reach remote areas, and education is the perfect market for a rapidly growing economy and population—not to mention a worthy social cause. Today, our Hughes Global Education offering partners with premier institutes of India and the world to deliver high-level education and training programs via 150 centers in 66 cities in India and abroad. The heart of the Hughes service is a powerful system that provides large numbers of geographically dispersed participants with a highly interactive, oneto- one exchange with faculty. This initiative has helped bridge the educational divide by making quality education and training more affordable, convenient, and accessible to the general public, especially the unserved and underserved. To date, more than 20,000 students have utilized this service, which is growing at a rate of 30 percent per year.
Despite the challenges of doing business in India, the COMSYS 2011 report adds, “Hughes’ India strategy has always been amongst the most innovative in the world,” and “It is hard to see how HCIL could have managed its business much better or achieved more.” That perspective has been borne out by recognition over the past few years from every major media publication and consultancy in the region, including top awards from Voice & Data, Frost & Sullivan, Tele.net, and Communications Today.
I see a solid outlook for HCIL with continued double-digit growth and excellent business opportunities, particularly in banking, government, and education. We believe India is the future. So for our team, it’s not just about running a business. It’s also about contributing to the development of our country. We welcome you to visit our Web site at www.hughes.in to find out more—or better still, visit us and our amazing country in person.
Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, mud slides, terrorist attacks. Disaster can strike anywhere, anytime—swiftly, and with little warning. Many U.S. state and local governments have emergency operational plans in place to facilitate a rapid response in the event of an emergency, addressing such critical activities as evacuation, sheltering, and distribution of supplies.
But one of the first things a government needs to do is to get emergency alerts out to the public. Today, as satellite technology displaces the old analog method of relaying emergency information, states and localities are employing digital satellite services to help enable a far more sophisticated form of their Emergency Alert Systems (EAS). In addition, the federal government has mandated a multi-media process to maximize information dissemination.
Case in point: In 2011, the state of Alabama rolled out its GSSNet/Alert Studio CAP-EAS system, a state-of-the-art digital emergency communications system powered by Hughes that disseminates alerts in multiple formats.
Developed and operated by Global Security Systems (GSS), the system includes both its Alert Studio message origination portal and GSSNet satellite data delivery capability, leveraging a combination of the Hughes nationwide satellite service and terrestrial technologies to disseminate messages.
In addition, Alabama has adopted the federal government’s Common Alert Protocol (CAP), a digital XML-based data format for sharing and distributing emergency information. A CAP system enables alerts via multi-media applications, including road signs, cell phones, smart phones, reverse 911, TV, and radio. Since the CAP message is digital, audio quality is vastly improved. And because satellite communications transmits to everyone at the same time, state and local governments no longer need to rely on the analog daisy-chain approach.
When an alert is created in the Alert Studio application, the CAP message is sent via the Hughes nationwide satellite broadband service and GSSNet to radio and television broadcasters, where individual EAS decoders read the text over the air.
“The biggest problem we had with the old system was to get the message together and disseminate it to everyone,” said Larry Wilkins, chairman of the Alabama State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC). “When an emergency alert was created, it wouldn’t be pushed to the public at the same time. A dispatcher used to have to read it.”
The GSS Alert Studio portal can create and retrieve alerts in multiple formats, including MP3 files and live recorded messages that are disseminated on a national, regional, or local basis to receivers of AM, FM, and HD radio signals.
“We avoid the hassles of the Internet, firewalls, and configuration issues,” added Wilkins. “Often the Internet can get congested. Using a satellite system with Internet backup was the best way to go for reliability. In addition, messages can now be generated remotely and transmitted from anywhere in the field using Hughes satellite technology, instead of just at the Emergency Operations Center or the Department of Public Safety.”
Today, with its proactive adoption of new satellite technology and coordinated information dissemination, Alabama is providing a model for other states of how to get the word out to the public as quickly and effectively as possible— helping citizens to reach safe haven as they ride out the storm.
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