The Deadliest Catch counts on satellite dispatch radio in Northern Alaska


The Situation

While most folks opt for jobs that are safe and free from danger, there are others that choose careers such as mining, law enforcement, fire rescue, mining, crabbing, and more. It may come as a surprise to learn that Alaskan crabbers top the list of people with the most dangerous job.

Crabbers are the men, and sometimes women, that take to the frigid waters north of 60 for a few weeks at a time in search of Alaskan king crab. This is considered by many to be the most dangerous job out there, with 20+ hour work shifts and an unforgiving sea some of the issues they have to face. Combine that with sub-zero temperatures and 40-foot waves and you have a recipe for extreme danger. It seems strange to most of us that people would put their lives at risk in order to put a delicious crab on our plates, but crabbers see the potential rewards as well worth the risk.

The roughly 300 fishing boats that make up the Alaskan crab fleet catch anywhere in the region of 10-15 million pounds of crab each and every year.

The Challenge

Try to maintain reliable satellite communications with dry land whilst in the midst of extreme conditions.

The Solution

The small town of Dutch Harbor, Alaska sees an influx of crabbers in the week leading up to the start of fishing season. They load up on pots, supplies, fuel and bait, all whilst trying to prepare themselves for the arduous work schedule ahead of them.

Of the satellite carriers that operate in the area, Lightsquared’s dispatch mobile satellite radio service is the one most used by the Pacific fishing community.

This particular service is chosen because of flat rated, person-to-person and one-to-many service that allows for an efficient satellite service via the MSAT G2 in even the most remote parts of North America. The captains that steer the fleet often refer to the Lightsquared dispatch mobile satellite radio phones as “TAG” phones. This is in reference to talkgroups where one captain might let another know that he will be available to call on TAG 1.

This is often the only way crabbers are able to communicate when out at sea. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, a simple push-to-talk service can often be the difference between life and death. Most captains would simply never think of heading to sea without it.

Each season, be it crab, cod, halibut or Pollock, requires fishing quotas to be met, which has driven the Pacific fleet to over 1400 MSAT G2 satellite systems. For these brave men, the MSAT dispatch radio has become almost as popular as a standard cell phone. This mobile satellite radio has become the way in which maps are downloaded, weather reports picked, e-mails sent and calls to loved ones on dry land made. It’s clear that Lightsquared’s Satellite Network has become an essential part of this industry day to day operations and without it, the job just couldn’t get done.

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