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Fixed Wireless Broadband Aids Seal Island Wildlife Preservation

Posted on by GWI

One of our more interesting fixed wireless broadband applications is for a customer reachable only by a twenty-five mile boat ride from our Rockland office. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the “Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge” on a small rocky island near Matinicus Island, Maine and uses our services in some interesting ways.

A Woman oberving birds at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge.

A woman observes birds with the help of her camera and bird identification book.

In the WWII era, the island was a bombing range and now contains unexploded ordnance. Thus, it’s off limits to the public, and the island help is required to stay on the rocks and paths. Fortunately, it’s mostly rock and easy to get around. The real reason people are there today are the birds. Studying the birds and their lives provides excellent insight into important marine biology.

I was on the island for a service call, to fix their Internet and phone service at their main shack. If not for the solar power, laptops, walkie talkies, chargers, iPods, tablet computers, and digital cameras, Henry David Thoreau would be right at home here. Actually, I think Thoreau would blog from the shack if he were around today.


The Internet connection our fixed wireless broadband provides is essential to work at Seal Island.

A shack at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge that is connected by fixed wireless broadband to the mainland.We provide a wireless broadband connection to the island’s main shelter so the scientists and volunteers can use the Internet and phone. On the mainland, we know the Internet is useful, but the island depends on limited communications options and is out of cellular phone range. If their marine radio had a problem in an emergency, the Internet could be their only means of communication. The people out here are clearly more interested in nature than the Internet, but to have it available means a great deal.

While some GWI phone switch provisioning was taking place, I had time for a few photos around the camp. When their phone rang after our service work was completed, there was jubilation on the island to have communications restored.

The most famous thing about the island is another project with which we help. They have webcams on the island for the whole Internet to watch. These are quite well known and popular. I was one among a hundred and fifty people watching one webcam while preparing this post.

The Burrow Cam

Streaming live video by Ustream

The Arctic Tern Cam

Live stream by Ustream

Puffin Loafing Ledge

Live streaming by Ustream

We helped them set up a separate wireless link for this project. It uses radio dishes to beam IP video back to our hilltop tower site in Rockland. Then, it relays downtown to their office where it goes onto the Internet. We have the tower site in the right spot and the wireless skills to make this happen. We recently helped them upgrade from a simple analog system to an IP based system for better video and more than one webcam.

People love to see the puffins and terns and the unique perspective the webcams provide and we have the unique technology and fixed wireless broadband sites to help them do it.


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