Researchers from SK Telecom and Hoseo University are installing a data receiver into the sea before demonstrating underwater communication using sound waves. [Photo by SK Telecom]
South Korea’s SK Telecom and Hoseo University announced on Wednesday their researchers successfully demonstrated the world’s first underwater data transmission over a sound wave, which they say is a major milestone toward a new era of commercial underwater communication.
Using OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), a new modulation technique for wireless communication, researchers put LTE frequencies on programmed sound waves to transmit text and photo data at 25 meters under the sea off a port in Incheon. The data were exchanged between two ships about 800 meters apart.
Three sample color photos and a set of marine information like water temperature and salinity were also sent out successfully but their transmission speed was limited to 40Kbps similar to a current wired telephone modem, SK Telecom said.
Structure of underwater communication network
The company and the university will continue their collaboration in developing and establishing underwater sensors and base stations. Those sensors will gather information to be transmitted to marine communication buoys through base stations in the water and then to land communication systems via a satellite LTE network. All data signals will be transmitted over a sound wave in the water and a radio wave in the air.
Korea is the first country that has demonstrated this type of communication based on underwater base stations, said Hoseo University professor Ko Hak-lim who leads the joint research team.
This technology development was launched as a state research project initiated by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in 2015 is now supported by a consortium with 13 local companies, universities and research institutions.
If commercialized, this technology could be widely used for maritime weather observation and national defense of territorial waters, more accurate prediction and monitoring of climatological changes and natural disasters, as well as quick responses to ship accidents.
By Cho Hee-young
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