Underwater Internet Network Shows the Future of Wireless

Wireless Internet is everywhere: walk into a Starbucks, fire up your laptop, and enjoy the morning headlines on a news website while sipping your espresso. If you’re lost in the city, plug the destination address into Google Maps on your smartphone. There’s no need to stress—just follow the little blue dot on the wireless Internet device in your hand, and you’re there! All over the world, people are enjoying the benefits of wireless Internet, and it makes life pretty convenient. Smart phones, laptops, iPads, and a plethora of other Internet devices are out there eating up the cyberspace. But there is one final frontier…

The Final Frontier: Underwater Wireless Networks


The last remaining frontier for wireless Internet to conquer is water. Our planet’s vast oceans flout the existence of wireless Internet: water poses a problem because all cell phones and other mobile devices use radio waves to function, and these waves travel very poorly through water, especially with the speed and frequency used by wireless Internet. A good example of these underwater communication limitations occurred when researchers sent down a robotic vehicle to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. The explorers needed a heavy, expensive cable to communicate findings to researchers on the boat 2.4 miles above.

Beyond the Titanic, however, it is important to know that there are already organizations relying on underwater communication technology. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) relies on sound waves in the ocean to collect data about what’s happening in those deep, dark depths. Tsunami sensors strategically located on the seafloor transmit information to buoys on the surface by acoustic waves. Technology on the buoys transmits the information into radio waves, and researchers at NOAA gather all of this on their computer systems.

There is now a push to create a wireless Internet underwater. The major reasons for this are: improvements in tsunami detection, pollution and offshore oil monitoring, and natural gas exploration. Funded by a National Science Foundation grant, the University of Buffalo has conducted a research project by plugging sensory modems into a Gumtix Linux Board. This project programs these modems to speak an aquatic version of TCP-IP, a networking protocol all devices use to communicate with each other. This is what makes underwater accessible through the Internet.


This past month, the researchers at the University of Buffalo sailed out onto Lake Erie and dropped three yellow 40-pound Teledyne Benthos modems into the water. Then they sat back and recorded on their laptops all the “talk” going on down under. The modems use high-pitched chirping sounds that can be picked up at a kilometer’s range, which proved to be successful. According to Tommaso Melodia, associate professor of electrical engineering at the university and head of this project, submerged wireless networks offer the ability to collect and analyze data from oceans and send out critical information to the public, worldwide. Anyone with a wireless Internet device can be warned the instant a catastrophe, like a tsunami, should strike the area. This could potentially save lives.

This project is still in its infancy, and the kinks need to be ironed out. The modems are huge, slow, and noisy, and adjustments are being put into action to correct these issues. Eventually, the University of Buffalo wants to develop a high frequency version of the modem that is less likely to affect marine life. However, it is the first step into conquering the ocean’s vast frontiers, and it could one day allow people near dangerous and catastrophic natural disasters to prepare and evacuate in time.

Staying Afloat in the Modern World


But what does all of this exciting research in underwater communications have to do with your business? The research is still a long way away from offering underwater WIFI and network capabilities as a consumer product. This news is, however, one example of how quickly the wireless networking industry is changing. many wireless and cellular Internet companies are still recovering from the economic downturn of 2008 as well as mass digitization, which means more demands from consumers.

 As a consultancy for wireless network companies, Robert C. Davis and Associates understands the rapid transformation of the industry, and we know how to train call center agents to educate customers, respond to service outages, and transition from service calls to making sales. You may not have any call centers underwater just yet, but when you do, you can rest assured Bob Davis and his team will be there to help you understand what customers want, how to meet their needs and create an amazing customer service experience.