OneWeb’s satellite connectivity services have been deployed at one of the northernmost research stations in the world.

The satellite firm and local distribution partner Galaxy Broadband have deployed OneWeb terminals at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), a science station in remote northern Canada.

PEARL Research lab canada -- Galaxy Broadband.jpg
– Galaxy Broadband

Conducting atmospheric and climate research, PEARL is located at the Eureka research base on Ellesmere Island, Qikiqtaaluk Region, in the far northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. It is the third-northernmost permanent research community in the world.

For almost 20 years PEARL has solely relied on C-band geostationary satellites for its connectivity, which also serves other services nearby including the Eureka Weather Station.

Despite limited uplink bandwidth, more than 25 instruments at PEARL produce multiple gigabytes of data per day, in addition to the station’s communication and broadcast needs.

“Today, we are able to access the high-speed, low-latency communications services provided by low Earth orbit satellite connectivity,” said James Drummond, Professor at University of Toronto. “Our provider Galaxy Broadband, with OneWeb, has enabled us to have a high-bandwidth experience, with less cost and with far lower latency.”

Pierre Fogal, PEARL site manager, added: “The addition of this link allows us to greatly expand our data transfer capacity, so we have a much better response when controlling instruments remotely and can allow our personnel to make use of streaming technologies for meetings and personal contacts. This connection will enhance the two-way communication we have between our on-site staff and the south.”

Established in 2005, PEARL includes the Ridge Lab building, originally built by the Meteorological Service of Canada in 1992 to hold the Arctic Stratospheric Ozone Observatory (AstrO); the Zero (0) Altitude PEARL Auxiliary Laboratory (0PAL); and the Surface Atmospheric Flux and IRradiation Extension (SAFIRE).

Howard Stanley, OneWeb’s VP for the Americas, said: “We are delighted that everyone stationed at PEARL now can access high-speed connectivity with low latency, not just for the long-term benefit of valuable scientific research, but also for themselves and their community.”

PEARL lab - OneWeb Galaxy Broadband.jpg
– Galaxy Broadband

Galaxy became a OneWeb distribution partner in September 2021 and announced a $50 million partnership this month. The firm has already deployed OneWeb services to more than 75 locations throughout Canada.

Rival satellite firm Starlink has deployed its terminals in Antarctica to support the US National Science Foundation’s operations there.

Antarctica is the last remaining continent without a subsea fiber cable, with research stations across the region entirely reliant on satellite communications. The US McMurdo Antarctic station, located on Ross Island, has around 25Mbps to share between up to 1,000 people in the Austral summer. The South Pole is entirely reliant on communications from three aging satellites. However, a number of parties are exploring the possibility of building a cable to Antarctica to support research missions.

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