Adamello Regional Park: Remote mountain huts go online thanks to satellite broadband
Located at the centre of the Alps, in Italy’s North-East province of Brescia, the Adamello Regional Park is a haven for mountain enthusiasts. Encompassing a sizable protected area, the park is also home to the largest glacier in Italy, the Pian di Neve and its branches (approx. 18 km2).
The park and its 51,000 hectares of land, numerous trails, peaks and ridges are managed by the Mountain Community of Valle Camonica. A network of almost 1000 km of paths are available to tourists all-year round. Furthermore, the park’s highest peak of 3539 m makes it a popular destination among climbers and snow sports lovers. They can count on dozens refuge huts as a safe base during their travels.
Situated on the highest trails of the park, mountain refuge huts can make a life-saving difference for mountaineers looking for shelter or any emergency help. Thus, their connectivity to both climbers and authorities is vital.
Due to high altitude, isolated location and difficult terrain, mountain huts are however troublesome to connect to traditional communication networks. Mobile networks rarely work and other villages may be too far away for signal receivers to function. In 2014, an area of more than 25 km2 was without any connectivity in the park. And most refuge huts were located within it.
The satellite solution
Anticipating a large number of visitors with the occasion of the 2015 Milan Universal Exposition, regions were encouraged to improve their tourist services. Thus, thanks to funds received from the Lombardy region, Adamello Park decided to equip their most isolated huts with satellite broadband connection.
Approximately 90% of the project’s cost (€70,000) was covered by the region, with park authorities covering the rest. Following implementation, 15 mountain huts have been equipped with a satellite receiver. The project covered the installation and a limited free use of the service until 2018. After this time, additional usage costs will need to be covered by hut keepers through subscriptions to an hours-of-use package.
Thanks to the new services, tourists can now obtain vital information (such as huts space availability, weather forecasts and accessibility etc) on their route directly from the huts. Tourists can now book their places online, without having to go through the park’s administrative offices.
The new service should also allow for credit card payments in the future. Safety in the high mountains has also been improved by boosting the coordination and communication between huts and other regional authorities (park authorities, Italian Alpine Club, civil protection organisations etc).
The project approaches the high mountain activities of the park and its management in a dynamic form. In the future it will allow us to break the total isolation, as a condition and as a limitation, of these and other similar settlements.
Guido Calvi, Agronomist, Adamello Park