All of Argentina's bases in Antarctica are now equipped with telecommunications systems depending on nationally-owned ARSAT satellites instead of relying on foreign providers, it was announced.
Located some 1,500 kilometers from Ushuaia, the Orcadas Base now has 2G telephone and Internet services through the ARSAT-1 and ARSAT-2 satellites after the successful installation of new antennas at the Orcadas Base, according to reports.
The base was established in 1904 on Laurie Island and is said to be the oldest permanent human population in Antarctica. During the current Antarctic campaign, two telecommunications specialists from the Argentine Armed Forces were deployed to recover, assemble, and put into operation some equipment and antennas with help from the 20 members of the base's staff to provide 2G services through the Movistar network in mainland Argentina and Internet services through ARSAT.
According to Orcadas Base's Navy Lieutenant Commander Juan Manuel Garita, the commissioning of these antennas is not only a leap in quality for the base's telecommunications because they put us in the same conditions as if we were on the continent, but it also makes us independent from other providers and ensures that all our Antarctic bases communicate through national networks.
Orcadas communications have always been a challenge due to its location and until now this has been solved, he added.
”Faced with this situation, from the Joint Antarctic Command (Cocoantar) a plan was designed to take advantage of some equipment that was in disuse at the base and build a satellite link with the Balcarce ground station, in the province of Buenos Aires, which allows us to access the Movistar 2G network that guarantees us telephony, text messages and some data such as for text in WhatsApp, he also explained.
The original project was to bring 4G but the company was not sure of the scope and preferred the tests to be done with 2G, now that we know it works we are processing to increase the data capacity, he also pointed out.
Garita also highlighted that another important part of this project was the installation of a second internet antenna with which we achieved the link with ARSAT-2 and the teleport of Campo de Mayo in the province of Buenos Aires.
For now it has a connection of 1 mega downstream and 128 Kb upstream but we are also managing to increase its capacity, he stressed.
On April 17, we were able to establish the telephone connection, and on April 19 the Internet connection, and although we will keep the service in force until these new links have the required capacity, it is a real milestone that all our bases are linked by national telecommunications services, something that is not very common, he pondered.
On April 21 the icebreaker Almirante Irízar finished unloading all the supplies, spare parts, and fuel that we are going to need throughout the year because despite not being as far south as other bases our position is very inaccessible in winter since the sea freezes and the only thing that could land here would be a plane with skis like the Twin Otter if the nearby glacier is in conditions; that is why for us to guarantee telecommunications is also a vital issue, he insisted.
There are a total of 20 people at the base: two park rangers and a biologist from the Argentine Antarctic Institute who carry out biological monitoring, sample taking, geodesy, and seismology surveys; three Air Force personnel from the National Meteorological Service who carry out meteorological observation and geomagnetism; and 14 Army and Navy personnel from the Cocoantar who attend to the logistical needs of the base,” Garita detailed. (Source: Télam)