Antarctica NZ boosts satellite data speeds

Limited options lead to WAN acceleration technology rollout

Antarctica NZ, which manages New Zealand's presence on the southern continent at Scott Base, is boosting its satellite data links with the rest of the world through deploying WAN optimisation technology.

Located nearly 4,000 km from Antarctica NZ's headquarters in Christchurch, Scott Base is dependent on its Telecom NZ satellite connection. To boost performance on that 64/256Kbit/s frame relay connection, Antarctica NZ has implemented optimisation technology to combat latency with its Citrix-based applications and remote web browsing.

A tender document released last year, revealed that connectivity to the base was barely above dial-up speeds.

“This connection can vary from 64kbit/s during winter (March to September) to 128kbit/s during summer (October to February). The restriction on the data link speed is largely financial.

“A 2Mbit/s ADSL link also provides local connectivity between Scott Base and the nearby United States’ McMurdo Station 3km away.”

Antactica NZ chose technology from Expand Networks to do the job.

"The clever combination of compression, acceleration and caching that goes on within the Expand Accelerators has considerably reduced our latency issues, both within Citrix and with web browsing," Mike Mahon, IT administrator for Antarctica NZ, says. "Despite a 600ms latency on our satellite link the data speeds we are experiencing are markedly improved, and are now really rather impressive for a 7,600km round trip just to reach the internet connection."

Mahon says Antarctica NZ is saving $2,000 per month on 8Kb in effective additional bandwidth. The project delivered a return on investment in in four months, he says.

Steve O'Brien, vice president of Expand Networks Asia Pacific says Scott Base has incredibly limited options to increase bandwidth and buying more capacity from the satellite is costly.

Expand Networks' claims its accelerators deliver average bandwidth increases of between 100% and 400%. Quality of service (QoS) enforcement also ensures that applications run unimpeded on the WAN.

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