PetroCom Begins Testing Digital Cellular Network in US Gulf

PetroCom has begun construction and testing of the first digital cellular network in the Gulf of Mexico. Working with partners Siemens and Ericsson, PetroCom is introducing cutting-edge GSM technology to provide enhanced, secure and high-speed communications for companies in the multi-billion dollar offshore industry. With offices in Houston, New Orleans and Lafayette, La., PetroCom is the largest cellular provider in the Gulf, with a coverage area stretching from Brownsville, Texas to Mobile, Ala. and as far offshore as 180 miles.

For oil and gas companies, maritime operators and government agencies in the Gulf, secure and reliable communication is indispensable for remaining competitive. If a company's offshore network fails, the resulting communications downtime severely impacts productivity and business operations, potentially creating a daily revenue loss in the multi-million dollar range.

"For the more than 30,000 potential individual users in the Gulf of Mexico, and hundreds of thousands of remote monitoring points through the Gulf, our network will provide the high level of performance, unmatched reliability and proven security that businesses need to stay ahead of their offshore competitors," said PetroCom President and CEO Brad Parro. "We give companies mobile access to all types of urgent information anywhere and anytime. Our customers expect nothing less from us. We're excited to be able to bring this flexible and strategic new solution to their most challenging communications issues."

PetroCom is working in concert with Siemens and Ericsson, the industry's leading wireless network equipment manufacturers. Siemens is providing base station equipment and Ericsson supplies the network switching technology. These solid, long-term corporate partners are the conduits through which PetroCom will deliver its breakthrough network. PetroCom will conduct extensive network testing this summer with its partners and select customers.

The ability to send and receive e-mails, make phone calls, transfer electronic files and access proprietary information can be taken for granted on land. For offshore workers and businesses, however, such communications activities are a vital link when situated several miles into the Gulf.

Supported by nearly two years of rigorous research and performance assurance, PetroCom's network will deliver approximately 100,000 square miles of coverage in the Gulf of Mexico. The company will also provide additional coverage to support deepwater exploration projects and specialized market demands. According to industry analysts, an estimated $30 billion will be dedicated to deepwater Gulf exploration and production in the next five years.

PetroCom's world-class network will harness the strength of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard, the leading wireless communications technology with one billion subscribers in more than 200 countries. The network will also be one of the first system-wide deployments of EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) technology in the United States. This unrivaled technology ensures delivery of advanced mobile data services, including high-speed Internet access, video downloading and full multimedia messaging, among others.

"The availability of a mobile high-speed data network in the Gulf of Mexico that is concurrently affordable, portable and reliable would create new opportunities for collaboration between our field-based employees and office staff," said Jerry Greig, CIO Information Technology Services for Fugro Chance Inc. "Equally important, it could enable more frequent and timely communication with our customers, resulting in the enhanced quality of products and services."

PetroCom LLC is a full-service telecommunications and network solutions company serving the business community, with particular emphasis in the energy industry. Headquartered in New Orleans, PetroCom was founded in 1983 to construct, develop and operate the world's first satellite-based cellular network.