Instrumentation Help with Instrumentation Communication Technologies Cellular Land-based Radio Satellite

Communication Technologies

Communication technologies ensure that data collected in the field can be retrieved and reaches scientists and/or UNAVCO. Various types of communication technologies are installed along with geophysical or other sensors. No one solution necessarily works everywhere. In addition, some methods allow data to be pushed or pulled automatically from the sensor to the destination, wheresas other methods only allow for manual data or metadata collection.

The primary ways in which UNAVCO remotely connects to devices are: Cellular internet gateways, long-range ethernet bridge radios linked to an Internet gateway, Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), and satellie technologies such as VSAT, BGAN, and Iridium. Below is a table listing a brief comparison of the different communications solutions.

Comms Type Download/Upload speed Power Consumption Comments
Cellular Connection 10 - 300 Kbit/s 5 - 14 W Great solution, but only useable where there is good cell coverage
VSAT 64 - 500 Kbit/s 10 W+ Works almost anywhere except at very high latitudes, high power demand and low reliability in remote DC powered locations
Radio 120 - 867 Kbit/s 2 - 6 W Very reliable, easy to use, but requires line of sight between stations
WISP 64 - 256 Kbit/s 6 W Reliable in places where access point is well maintained, this is not the case in most locations


Cellular Technologies are the most common method used to retrieve data from remote sites.


Land-based Communications involve Internet connections, such as Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), DSL, cable, dial-up modem and other analog systems.


Radio Communications is used for line-of-sight communications over tens of miles in remote locations.


Satellite Communications using VSAT, BGAN, or Iridium when sites are remote or where no cellular, land-based methods, or other radio methods are available.


Last modified: 2019-12-24  01:47:07  America/Denver