First Wireless Internet Modems for Underwater Use

Students doing research on a boat

Exploring New Frontiers in Communications and Networking: Technological advancements could lead to improvements in tsunami detection, offshore oil and natural gas exploration, surveillance, pollution monitoring and other activities.

Electrical and environmental engineering faculty at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, are collaborating in the development of an underwater network that is accessible via the Internet. Wireless modems made by Teledyne Benthos were reprogrammed to speak an aquatic version of TCP/IP. The network, the first of its kind to be developed, was successfully tested in Lake Erie, a few miles south of downtown Buffalo, NY.

A deep-sea Internet has many applications, including linking together buoy networks that detect tsunamis. The framework could also be useful to the energy industry for offshore oil and natural gas exploration and real-time pollution monitoring. The technology could also lead to improvements in surveillance, oceanographic data collection and other activities.

Progress on the project has gained national and international  attention through media outlets such as

NPR, ABC News, NBC News, BBC, Fox News, Wired, MSN, Gizmodo, PCMag,  and CNET among others.

Faculty collaborators in the underwater projects are Tommaso Melodia, associate professor and lead investigator of the underwater Internet project, Stella Batalama, professor and chair, Dimitris Pados, professor and coordinator of the Signals, Communications, and Networking Research Group, and Weifeng Su, associate professor, all of Electrical Engineering; and Joe Atkinson, professor of Civil Structural and Environmental Engineering and director of the Great Lakes Program.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research.