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Ref: Satellite phone system to test emergency communication in rural Vermont

Rutherland Herald

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Officials tout satellite phone system




September 29, 2007
The Associated Press

NEWPORT — Emergency responders in northeastern Vermont are hoping a new satellite communications system expected to go into service next year will help them fill in the gaps in radio and cell phone communications.

Reston, Va.,-based TerreStar Networks is planning to test the $1 billion system in the area to fill in the gaps between existing mobile communication carriers.

"We are going to prove the technology in a very difficult part of the country," said TerreStar Vice President Tim Atkinson.

Company officials say northeastern Vermont is a "developmental sandbox" where commercial applications in rural areas can be tested, said Doug Sobieski, TerreStar chief marketing officer.

The system will use a satellite to link ground-based phone and data networks as a way to improve cell and broadband coverage.

TerreStar officials met Thursday with representatives of the Vermont State Police, Orleans County Sheriff's Department, Vermont National Guard and other agencies.

Vermont State Police Capt. Alan Buck said he hoped the system would enable him to talk with three or four troopers at once, even if they were in the most remote parts of the region.

A TerreStar phone will be similar to those already in use and existing cell phones or other devices can be fitted for TerreStar service. It would know to switch from traditional cell towers to the satellite when the towers are out of range.

© 2007 Rutland Herald

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