Secure office links from anywhere
TCS devices give remote network, phone connections a boostFollow @infoworld
The DVM-90 Mongoose, however, has broad applications for nongovernment users, as well. And it will work just fine for employees in the field -- from consultants to construction crews -- that need reasonably fast, reasonably reliable communications.
As with all satellite communications, there are caveats: The device must be outside to work, and it must have a clear view of the sky to connect to the satellite -- hence my “reasonably reliable” disclaimer above. But compared with other VSAT satellite options, the DVM-90 holds an advantage with its portability and automated setup and operation.
Back in the Florida countryside, the setup process was simple. We removed the DVM-90 unit from its backpacks and set it on the ground with one side facing south. Next, we attached power cables with either AC -- anything from 95 volts to 265 volts is just peachy -- or as much as 48 volts of DC (bring your Hummer) and the Ethernet cables.
With the press of a switch, the Mongoose “wakes up” and waits for you to install the dish -- a simple process using two clips per dish segment. Thanks to the straightforward design, you can’t install it incorrectly.
Using its installed GPS unit, the DVM-90 figures out where it is and then swings its dish around, searching out the satellite. It lets you know when it’s locked on, and you’re ready to work.
You connect to the Mongoose through an Ethernet port, which gives you the approximate equivalent of two T1 lines, or a little more than 2Mbps. That’s a very good rate, about as good as it gets with VSATs, and plenty fast enough to handle video or large downloads. You can use your own VSAT service with the Mongoose, or you can use TCS’s service, which costs about $3,500 per month -- less than most other VSAT usage charges I’ve seen.
The DVM-90 will work just fine with the SwiftLink 5110 cell site, giving you a relatively inexpensive satellite connection that will handle a lot of voice traffic, which we tested by making cross-country calls to InfoWorld’s office. It will also work with the 2300 and provides better bandwidth than an Inmarsat connection. Although you can’t use Type 1 encryption if you’re connecting this way (due to the restrictions on the NSA encryption module), commercial encryption works well.
Watching the Mongoose turn itself on and find its satellite is entertaining, but the best news is that it gives you a good broadband connection. Although there’s still the ever-present satellite latency issue, the connection is as clear for voice calls as any other VoIP connection. It’s also a rock-solid data connection.
TCS’s trio of secure communications offerings can be a real boon to companies with employees who must be mobile or who find themselves without readily available communications, whether it’s simply because they work in out-of-the-way places or because of a disaster. Indeed, these types of devices could be valuable beyond measure during emergencies in which reliable communications are critical, as exemplified by the rescue, recovery, and organization efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
If you combine the SwiftLink 2300 portable office, 5110 cell site, and DVM-90 Mongoose VSAT terminal, you get a phone and Internet communication system that is both secure and easy to use. Used separately, each device will fill gaps in your enterprise communications strategy. My few small quibbles center around the DVM-90’s two-backpack transportation requirement and the 2300’s less-than-integrated management, but your connections will be reliable and strong regardless of the device used. Best of all, the stuff is relatively portable, so if you absolutely need to transport it as carry-on luggage, you can.