July 31, 2007
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Contact: Kristen Lenhardt, 202-452-5198

 BLM Launches Satellite Technology to Serve Remote Locations

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Bureau of Land Management has solved the problem of providing enterprise network resources to employees who work at remote, generally rural locations where no commercial wireline data services exist.  These places are typically fire guard stations, recreation sites, national monument visitor centers, resource offices, and ranger stations.  A new type of Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) station supplying broadband satellite data service has been successfully deployed at these out-of-the-way BLM sites in the West.
Employees there struggle to cope without any information technology network access, while the rest of the workforce enjoys the conveniences offered by today's BLM data network.  Innovation in VSAT technology has answered the connectivity dilemma and now provides high-speed network access to BLM staff who previously were not served by the enterprise network.

The VSAT technology is a two-way satellite ground station with a dish antenna that enables people to communicate via satellite from remote locations.  The advantages of VSAT reflect its versatility.  The system is cost-effective for a full spectrum of applications - from Web browsing, e-mail, file sharing, and quick-turnaround procurement transactions to broadband multimedia applications, such as Voice Over Internet Protocol and videoconferencing.

BLM's VSAT stations operate in a secure mode over Tachyon's Ku-band satellite network by employing a Federal Information Processing Standards-compliant, Advanced Encryption Standard mechanism.  Moreover, the BLM has positioned a mobile VSAT station in Utah that can be quickly deployed in emergencies to support firefighting and law enforcement activities in the field.

One of the more successful VSAT sites is the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located at Soda Lake in the San Joaquin Valley of California.  This isolated BLM facility was selected in 2006 for piloting the project, resulting in an astonishing success story on the value of VSAT technology.  By having satellite access to network resources, the Carrizo staff saves at least 100 hours a month in travel time.  This time can now be used more productively to manage resources instead of traveling back and forth to the Bakersfield home office.

VSAT technology has proven ideal for an environment like Carrizo, where the terrestrial telecom infrastructure is poor or non-existent.  Other BLM sites - such as the Window Rock Project Office (Arizona), Litchfield Horse Corrals (California), and the Ravendale Fire Station (California) - have all benefited from VSAT, showing similar productivity improvements.

Because of the success of the project, the BLM expects to roll out VSAT at more than 50 sites, with completion expected in 2008.  VSAT has definitely improved efficiencies and business communications delivery to the workforce, resulting in more informed and better-trained employees.
- BLM -

Last updated: 10-20-2009