The sole broadband connection to Sapelo Island consists of a microwave link that exchanges data with the mainland, approximately 9 miles away. The microwave radios that had been on the tower since 2012 were installed as part of a partnership between UGAMI and Darientel, which is the network provider for the Island. The system was showing its age and was frequently at capacity, as the bandwidth shared by the entire Island was only 300 Mbps (150 Mbps in each direction). This resulted in bottlenecks and disruptions in internet service. However, that has now changed!
This past month we again partnered with Darientel and replaced the old system with modern radios that use new technology. The upgrade increased the bandwidth by 8-fold, to 2,400 Mbps. This makes a huge difference for us: for example, instead of taking ~2 hours to upload drone imagery it now takes more like 12 minutes. It also means we can support internet use and video conferences without interruptions. The increased capacity benefits not only UGAMI but also broadband users throughout the Island. We are very grateful to the UGA Office of Research, which provided the UGA portion of the funds for this improvement.