Kymeta drives away from eclipse with renewed focus

Kymeta car (Kymeta)
Officer Barker of the Greenville Police Department checks out Kymeta's car with David Lamme of Kymeta Government Solutions. (Kymeta)

Kymeta’s mobile hotspot of a car played a supporting role for the Greenville Police Department during the dazzling eclipse on Monday, and fortunately, no major incidents were reported—other than mesmerized stargazers and traffic jams.

Kymeta drove its satellite-connected Toyota RAV4 to Greenville, South Carolina, after the city of Greenville IT team and police department authorized Kymeta to use the eclipse as an opportunity to put its technology to the test. Kymeta pledged to use its learnings to make further improvements for its federal, state and local government customers.

One of the big issues leading up to Monday’s eclipse was the lack of knowledge about what to expect. Redmond, Washington-based Kymeta noted that cellular data coverage was a concern for cities along the path of the totality and picked Greenville because it was expected to have one of the largest numbers of visitors.

“We were all kind of set and prepped for something untoward to happen and instead it was just like one big Woodstock all over again with a bunch of families and science nerds all clapping and cheering” and hollering for the sun to reappear while the stars were out, Tom Freeman, senior vice president of Land Mobile at Kymeta, told FierceWirelessTech. “It was such a great experience on so many levels.”

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Kymeta’s car was parked in front of City Hall, where police officers could log in to it just as if it were any old Wi-Fi hotspot—it just happens to use satellite. Police Chief Ken Miller was receptive to the idea and appreciated having the extra test-bed support during the event. According to Greenville Online, some 112 city police officers were patrolling the city that day and on hand to control traffic.

“It was great nothing happened,” Freeman said, but the cell system was indeed crushed, with people being told their text messages were not going through. “But we’re cranking away” with Kymeta’s mTenna technology, Freeman said. He said it was like walking into a football stadium when everyone’s fired up on their devices, only in this case, it was all over town.

Kymeta’s service was delivering speeds of about 7 megabits down and 2.5 megabits per second up. The company says its first-of-a-kind antenna technology and satellite connectivity service has wider implications for the future, with the potential to offer massive amounts of capacity on mobile platforms so that first responders always have reliable connectivity while on the move.