AlanDick, the communications infrastructure specialist, has landed the contract for the world's first deployment of a WiMAX multipoint network at sea, on board a cluster of 11 off-shore oil rig platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
As well as being the world's first WiMAX network deployment to an oil rig cluster, the installation will be Mexico's -- and quite probably South America's -- first major WiMAX network.
"This is a double first in terms of the siting of the network, which is effectively on the high seas in the Gulf of Mexico, and the fact that it's the first WiMAX deployment in Mexico," said John Oliver, AlanDick group marketing manager for broadband technology.
The 11 oil production platforms from Pemex, one of Mexico's major companies, are located offshore from Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, with the 3.4 GHz WiMAX transmissions using double redundancy components and systems at all points in the network spanning an average of 10km between the platforms.
"The most remote platform is 16 km away from the rest of the group, whilst the shortest WiMAX hop is 4km," said Oliver, adding that the decision to go with WiMAX was taken after the technology's advantages were realised by the client.
"WiMAX is quickly establishing itself as the wideband wireless network of choice for land-based networks, but the system really comes into own over water, as any attenuation issues are minimised thanks to WiMAX's frequency hopping spread spectrum network topology," he said.
"The important thing to realise with WIMAX is that it's a globally ratified standard that can support both voice and data, yet is still flexible enough to support several different data modulation schemes. This makes it ideal for an off-shore oil rig deployment, where the distances and variable, often hostile, weather conditions involved will push any wireless technology to its limit," he added.
"Ask anyone involved in wireless network deployments over water and they will tell you about the need to plan for a worst case weather scenario, with problems such as torrential downpours of rain, triggered by the high humidity levels seen at sea, all contriving to severely attenuate the radio signal," said Oliver.
"WiMAX's inherent flexibility, coupled with the high performance of the Redline RedMAX kit used in the project, has allowed Pemex to make the right choice in terms of technology, hardware and, of course, system integrator" he added.