Satellite: The next generation?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

OJAI, Calif.--A partnership between LaserShield and Hughes Network Systems, a provider of broadband satellite networks and services based in Germantown, Md., has resulted in the viability of transmitting alarm signals via satellite. “This is new to alarm systems. No one before has taken satellite broadband and used it as a transport for alarm systems at the residential level,” said Bryan Field-Elliot, chief technology officer at LaserShield.

The technology was developed by, which was recently acquired by LaserShield (see accompanying story), using its technology, which converts alarm signals over to broadband.

“We worked on changes to VoIPAlarm to make sure that the alarm systems worked correctly over the satellite link,” Field-Elliot said.

“VoIPAlarm already does broadband alarm monitoring, but it didn’t quite work with satellite because satellite is a little different, so we made some proprietary changes to VoIPAlarm that are specifically adapted to satellite communications.”

The company has been working on the technology for about six months and LaserShield systems equipped with satellite capabilities are due to be released this summer, he said.

Subscribers to HughsNet High Speed Internet Satellite Service will be a target market for the satellite-equipped systems.

Field-Elliot said the development of this technology was not without issues. “The standard alarm reporting protocol simply don’t work with the latency introduced by satellite links,” he said. “The bandwidth is very fast, but there’s a delay of approximately a second with satellite, and other complications, so we had to basically modify communication protocols in proprietary ways to make it work over satellite.” However, when the signal reaches the central station, VoIPAlarm’s receiver systems translate the data back into the same format as other alarm signals, he said.

While the viability of satellite technology remains to be determined, Field-Elliot estimates that “the industry will be watching us closely to see how successful this is.”