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Oil and gas industry focus of Netbase Technologies

Netbase helping users monitor business from home

HATTIESBURG — Twenty years ago, sitting across from a television and using a small wand to turn it on and off, control the volume and change channels was any guy’s dream; today it’s reality.

But imagine what it would be like to control a business by remote as well, and that is exactly what Netbase Technologies, located in Hattiesburg, is making possible.

Netbase Technologies’ new device, developed by Jason Phipps, gives users the ability to remotely monitor or control almost any device, anywhere, anytime, limiting both the need and/or frequency of human intervention.

Some of the applications already being used include inventory management and functionality monitoring of vending machines, flow and pressure monitoring for gas pipelines, production data and functional control of remotely located oil wells, load monitoring for power substations and home patient monitoring.

And while Netbase was before only working on network security and computer telephony, their new area is the telemetry technology that involves remote monitoring of devices. Where before this was only possible when a satellite transceiver was being used now the whole process has become a lot less expensive.

“We’re into the oil and gas industry and specifically oil wells and gas pipelines,” said Kenny Lance, president of Netbase Technologies. “What people in these industries were doing were building their own towers.”

Building towers required FCC licensing though, something Lance said oil companies should not have to deal with.

“They don’t want to be in the tower-building business,” he said. “We wrote a program that runs on a wireless routing that will take data from the well to the home office.”

At the home office, controllers can constantly monitor the status of hundreds of oil wells.

“They know when to increase production, when to slow down,” Lance explained.

But most importantly, they know when something goes wrong.

“If they spill oil, it’s a large fine,” Lance said.

Telemetry is not a new idea by any means, but Netbase is using it in a way different from any other technology-based company. And while another company is using pager frequencies, Netbase is using Southern Link’s and Nextel’s frequencies. Both companies use the Motorola IDEN network that Netbase runs on. Lance explained that it was only a matter of writing drivers for his company’s network in order to use his remote paging devices.

“It’s called a wireless router,” Lance said. “It simply rides the Southern Link or Nextel network back to the home office someone is sitting in.” Netbase Technologies is currently using only the Southern Link network.

“The oil and gas industry has been doing this for years because it’s critical that they don’t spill,” Lance said. “And more and more people will find more applications for this. Even your car can be hooked up to a device that will read data.”

Right now the device Netbase uses is the size of a shoebox, but Lance believes his company can make it even smaller, perhaps down to the size of a pager.

Netbase only recently began to roll out with this new technology-two or three months ago in fact. It was after Lance attended a wireless trade show in Chicago in November that they came up with the idea.

“A lot of this is already being done, but we’ve come up with a way to use existing infrastructure to keep costs down,” he said. “When we came up and pitched the idea to Southern Link, they said they’d had customers ask for this.”

Lance’s challenge now is to bring telemetry to a wider market.

“It works, we just need more customers,” he said.

Netbase Technologies has been around for 14 years. Formerly known as Lance Computer Systems, Lance changed the name in order to give customers a better idea of what they do.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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