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Hughes wins its first satellite-based telemedicine deal

Hughes Network Systems will provide broadband satellite services to the New England Telehealth Consortium under a four-year contract that the satellite ISP says is its first deal in the area of mobile telemedicine.

Hughes won a $500,000 contract to provide 8Mbps data transmission services to mobile healthcare units operated by the New England Telehealth Consortium. These units -- three truck-based, one boat-based and one fixed-location -- provide medical care to migrant farm workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Hughes will provide high-performance routers to the healthcare units, and these routers are integrated with AvL Technologies' auto-deploy antenna to enable such applications as videoconferencing, transfer of electronic health records, viewing of X-rays and other digital images and voice calls. The Hughes routers automatically establish connectivity with the Hughes Spaceway 3 broadband satellite.

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The Spaceway 3 satellite uses a mesh-based, hub-less architecture that costs less and offers better availability and faster speeds than traditional Ku-band satellites. Designed for high-speed data transmission, Spaceway 3 offers point-to-point, any-to-any communications capabilities. Spaceway also eliminates the need for network traffic to go through a teleport; instead, network traffic goes straight to mobile receivers, saving money and time.

Spaceway is "a router in the sky," explained Tony Bardo, assistant vice president for government solutions at Hughes. "This is a routable, private network for the New England Telehealth Consortium, and we can offer them considerably higher speeds than with our traditional Ku satellites."

Hughes provides satellite-based Internet service to more than 400,000 consumers. Until now, Hughes' satellite-based private network services have been used primarily by government agencies involved in public safety applications. Hughes hopes the New England Telehealth Consortium deal will open up a new market for telemedicine.

"We've talked to the [Department of Veterans Affairs]; they want to reach out to veterans who may be immobile and can't get to one of their clinics and hospitals," Bardo said. "We've also talked to states like Virginia, which has mobile clinics throughout Appalachia. We think it's important to get the word out that this satellite technology delivers the speed necessary for telemedicine. ... Spaceway is new, fast and pretty affordable."

Hughes said the mobile telehealth units as well as a fixed location in Bangor, Maine, will have operational satellite network services in March.

In addition to Hughes and AvL Technologies, the New England Telehealth Consortium deal includes a consulting firm called ProInfoNet.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

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Tags: Networking, telemedicine, IBM, New England Telehealth Consortium, telehealth, mobile telehealth, Hughes Spaceway 3, LAN & WAN, satellite Internet, Hughes Network Systems, AvL Technologies, mobile telemedicine
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