Satcom, Chicago


As Robert Johnson wrote… 

Now, one and one is two, two and two is four
I’m heavy loaded baby, I’m booked, I gotta go
Cryin’ baby, honey, don’t you want to go
Back to the same old place, my sweet home Chicago

70 years later, still sounds good. In fact, Amazon has a nice box set available.

Last month, it was one and one and one is "no go:" the FCC dismissed (PDF) an application from the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Communications to operate a small satellite communications network consisting of a hub and two remote VSAT stations using sub-one-meter antennas. Besides not including a radiation hazard study, which is standard for earth station applications, the FCC found other details lacking:

Section 25.220(e)(1) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 25.220(a)(1), requires applicants proposing non-routine earth stations to include with the application a certification from each target satellite operator that the target operator has reached agreements with adjacent satellite operators regarding the non-routine operations.

Chicago also wanted to be able to connect with any available satellite over the U.S. during an actual emergency. I’m sure they’ll refile their application, but they should probably consider using a pre-engineered, commercially-licensed emergency communications system such as REDiSat — which uses a the AMC-6 satellite’s Ku-band payload (which is actually pretty hot over Chicago) to connect to a fully-licensed earth station in Maryland. It uses an antenna that’s approved for two-way communications anywhere in the lower 48, typically a 1.2m Patriot antenna and an iDirect modem.

Los Angeles County installed an extensive VSAT network years ago, as did the State of Florida. But these are "hot spots" for these types of networks and they went to great lengths in designing and installing them. Other large cities have done likewise since 9/11. With simpler configurations such as the type REDiSat offers, smaller municipalities can now begin considering a communications network that uses the ultimate diverse path: through space.

Hey, it worked in Biloxi.