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Union Wireless delivers solar C.O.W. to fire

Union Wireless delivers solar C.O.W. to fire

Sep 12, 2013 - From staff reports

In July, Union Wireless located a solar Cellular on Wheels device to a remote site in Carbon County, Wyoming, in direct support of the West Battle Creek Fire that was fought by more than 100 support personnel.

"C.O.W.'s are essentially portable wireless towers that can be moved to areas where there is no tradition cell service," said Eric Woody, chief technology and operations officer for Union Wireless. "Since there is no power source close by, the C.O.W. we are moving on site has both a built-in array of solar cells and a wind turbine."

Within minutes, the C.O.W. can be operational, providing dependable wireless service in and around the command center.

"The firefighters within the command center will be using this system to receive updates on weather conditions and to provide feedback to the state and federal agencies supporting the field operations," Woody said. "The solar C.O.W. will uplink its signal to a satellite, which allows communication even in this extremely remote area of the national forest where traditional backhaul solutions such as microwave or fiber are not available."

In the past, the solar C.O.W.'s have been used to aid the oil, gas and other industries in the region as well as to provide remote wireless service for major events and activities in places not yet served by traditional wireless or landline communications.

"The investment in solar C.O.W.'s is very expensive," said Brian Woody, chief customer relations officer for Union Wireless. "But having the capability to operate within these extreme remote locations allows us to not only serve the needs of the community, but also the various state and local governmental agencies."

Union Wireless has 23 portable C.O.W.'s, four of which are self-contained with solar cells and a wind turbine.

"Union Telephone has a 100-year history of providing service to the local community," Brian Woody said. "And solar C.O.W.'s are just another way that Union Wireless is helping to carry on that tradition."

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