If GOES-3 achieves 384 Kbps this summer, and fractional T1 equipment is on site, 2
phone lines of 8 Kbit each could be allocated, subtracting a mere 16 Kbps of bandwidth,
leaving 368 Kbps available for data. This is a sacrifice of only about 4% of the total
bandwidth (a small fraction of a dB) to support two lines that could be utilized the entire
time the satellite is visible.
Note that if full T1 were available on GOES-3, the number of lines can double to 4 and
impact the 384 Kbps link by only 2%.
4. Fax capability
There should be some means of easily transmitting the contents of a paper page to and
from the station. We recognize the potential for bandwidth abuse with faxes. However,
it is sometimes extremely important to be able to transmit diagrams and sketches.
5. Data allotment
The allocation of satellite bandwidth resources, and measurement of use is important to
ensure that all experiments have adequate communications with home, to ensure that
resource intensive activities (such as, perhaps, fax transmission) are recognized and
placed in proper perspective, and to properly anticipate requirements for future growth.
On the other side, strict allocations are likely to inhibit creative applications of the
network capabilities, a creativity that is extremely important for finding cost-effective
methods for carrying out research at South Pole. We recommend allocations of use be
avoided unless they become absolutely necessary.
Priority of bandwidth use should be in the following order: email, data, direct access,
voice (except in emergencies), and fax.
6. Role of Science Support in communications
One issue is the changing role of communications in scientific activities. In the past,
communications was perceived as strictly an information pathway. That perception is no
longer valid, as communications now provide the means of controlling and modifying
remote experiments, as well as receiving real-time data from them. While an
"Information Systems" approach to communications operation has served well in the
past, it is now worthwhile to review what role Science Support should play in this arena.
For instance, should Science Support money go toward subsidizing some of the
communications, given that communications is such an integral part of the science?
7. Prototype development strategy
Planning and budgeting for future communication possibilities is difficult to do, given
how quickly some opportunities present themselves. We recommend that a more flexible
procedure be developed that allows quick action to take advantage of targets of
opportunity for better communications.
8. Risks should be accepted for prototypes
It is very probable that the evolution of better communications to the Pole will continue
in rapid bursts of testing, prototyping and phased implementation. Once proven, a
prototype can be cleaned up for acceptance as standard equipment for station; if the
prototype fails, it still may serve as a testbed for later success.