As if any more proof were needed of the growing relevance of wireless technologies to the upstream oil & gas sector, in January, ERF Wireless and Schlumberger announced an exclusive agreement for delivery of wireless broadband services throughout North America. In doing so, Schlumberger enhances the footprint of its IPrescence and IPerformer services using ERF Wireless high-speed, low-latency wireless and WIMAX coverage. “This will increase real-time activities and collaboration between remote sites and office-based asset teams,” said Slavo Pastor, vice president, Schlumberger Information Solutions, North America. ERF Wireless is said to own and operate one of the largest wireless broadband networks in the domestic oil and gas sector and says it’s acquiring new wireless broadband networks in territories specific to the oil and gas business. One of several possible approaches to wireless networking, an IP-based multi-point wireless solution provides a partial mesh or star topology where each remote site communicates with others via a central hub. Bandwidth is shared between the remote sites. So called IP-based very small aperture terminal (IPoVSAT) addresses and transmits the packets in an optimum manner. Using this technology, IPerformer constitutes a private multi-site IP-based network solution, while IPresence is relevant to an individual site. Mesh networks route data via radio-signal pathways that are able to overcome obstructions or interference because each wireless device can act as a router for other nearby devices, thereby passing the messages along until they reach their destination, meaning the signal can “go around” an obstruction. Wireless applications include Voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing, security surveillance, and video monitoring systems. Major automation vendors, including Emerson Process Management, Invensys Process Systems, and Honeywell Process Solutions are also offering various aspects of wireless solutions to the petroleum industry. These include wireless transmission from remote field devices. ERF Wireless began its high-speed wireless broadband services to the oil and gas industry with its Mobile Broadband Trailer System (MBTS), placed at active drilling sites. By combining ruggedness with portability, it is said to uniquely support the mobile nature of drilling and production operations. “Through this agreement with Schlumberger,” said Dr. H. Dean Cubley, CEO, ERF Wireless, “we’re developing a premiere oil and gas sales channel for our wireless broadband. This will be a powerful catalyst for our vertical markets growth in the oil and gas sector.”