Subsea Data Systems, Inc. has completed a prototype of a Science Monitoring and Reliable Telecommunications (SMART) cable repeater. Cable manufacturer and layer ASN has said it plans to deploy SMART repeaters on cable systems in the future.

The company, a partnership between Samara/Data and Ocean Specialists, Inc., this week announced that it has a fully operational prototype system of its subsea sensor/cable repeater.

SMART repeaters aim to embed a number of sensors into subsea signal amplifiers, giving climate researchers valuable information about the oceans as well as providing Tsunami Early Warning (TEW) and Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) to governments.

Subsea Data said its package includes a 3-axis accelerometer, absolute pressure gauge, and temperature sensor, integrated with data acquisition circuits with suitable dynamic range and precision, a common communications module, an interface suitable for fiber optic cable spans up to 120 km in length, software, and firmware necessary to support the data path, an isolated power source, and precision timing.

A Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provided the necessary funds for development. The company said the Subsea Data Systems sensor unit has been reporting continuous seismic, pressure, and temperature data to NSF’s SAGE data repository since July 2022.

ASN Smart repeater.png
ASN's SMART repeater design – ASN

“The investment from the NSF’s SBIR program enabled our efforts to develop the world’s first SMART sensor prototype system. It represents a major first step in SMART Cable development, which is even more essential with upcoming SMART Cable projects including the CAM system in Portugal,” said Steve Lentz, chief technology officer of Subsea Data Systems. “NSF’s investment in Subsea Data Systems allowed us to jumpstart this hardware development. We’re particularly pleased with the productive collaboration with Silicon Audio Seismic in this endeavor. This latest achievement strengthens our ability to bring SMART hardware, software, and data management solutions to the commercial marketplace.”

In March, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) said it would begin integrating scientific sensors and sensing technologies into its submarine telecom systems.

Bruce Howe, Chair of the ITU/WMO/UNESCO-IOC SMART Cables Joint Task Force stated “I welcome this announcement by ASN indicating they are continuing support of the SMART concept combining environmental sensing with connectivity for overall societal benefit. Such steps will encourage the entire submarine cable industry to include SMART capabilities in future systems.”

Though not a new concept, the current use of SMART repeaters is largely limited to a number of government-sponsored trials due to the added cost to already-pricey cable projects – estimated to be around 10 percent. Researchers say putting SMART repeaters on new subsea cables could add thousands of new data points to help further ocean and climate research and provide greater warnings on earthquakes and tsunamis to coastal regions.

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