Appalachian Basin

Akron Satellite Internet Company Finds Their Niche in Shale Industry

An Akron company has found its niche in the oil and gas industry.  Skycasters, a telecommunications company that provides Internet connections in remote areas, has grown its business thanks to increased oil and gas production in Ohio.  They offer portable satellite Internet technology to customers like governments, first responders, and other companies requiring a consistent and reliable Internet connection.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Brad Grady, an analyst with a satellite industry market and consulting firm in Massachusetts, estimates that the annual oil and gas market for satellite internet services is about $150 million to $170 million.  Grady expects that number to grow to a total of $2.7 billion by 2022.

With this forecasted increase, it’s easy to see why Skycasters is focusing on the oil and gas industry.  President Mike Kister explained the role of oil and gas in their business:

“It’s a hugely growing part of the business. I’d say [oil and gas] is probably our largest growing sector. It makes up about 40 percent of our business. So it’s very significant for us.” —Mike Kister (Akron satellite Internet provider digs deep into shale energy, 4/1/13)

Skycasters currently has 30 employees, which allows the company to provide personal service to oil and gas companies in Ohio.   The Internet provider has spent about $4 million in the last three years upgrading its facilities as the company expands alongside the growth in Ohio shale development.

So why are oil and gas companies so reliant on a strong Internet connection?  The companies require connections for things like video surveillance and to provide personal service to off-duty employees. Kister also highlighted some other important facts:

“As it turns out, shale exploration and site preparation…is a very data intensive operation.  There are geologists that help guide this process.  Twenty years ago, you had to send a geologist on site. … Very inefficient, and you had to have on geologist for every well. Now we can take that data, use satellite and beam it back to headquarters and the geologists then are able to analyze that data from Well A … and then move on and analyze Well B.” —Mike Kister (Akron satellite Internet provider digs deep into shale energy, 4/1/13)

These off site geologists could be analyzing soil, drill speeds, the direction of the drilling, and materials going in and out of the well and the site. That kind of digitization — made possible by companies like Skycaster — also means increased safety. Being able to monitor and respond to events in real-time is obviously preferable to waiting for a phone call!

As production ramps up in Ohio and shale plays around the country, companies like Skycaster will continue to see their businesses grow.  That means increased technological development, and it will help safe processes like hydraulic fracturing become even more efficient.

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