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What's In Those Globes Atop the Miami NAP?

Three large globe-like structures atop the NAP of the Americas house satellite antennas to provide backup Internet connectivity.

When three large white globes first appeared on the rooftop of the NAP of the Americas in Miami, the flagship data center for Terremark Worldwide (TMRK), the Miami Herald held a contest asking readers to guess what was hidden inside them. The enormous bubble-like structures, which tower above Terremark's Ben Stewart in the photo above, have aroused curiosity among neighbors of the NAP. The structures house three large satellite antennas to provide Internet connectivity should the NAP ever lose its fiber connections. Stewart, the senior vice president of the Terremark Federal Group, notes that a connectivity outage is unlikely, but that the facility's federal customers wanted to address all scenarios, just in case. Those customers include the US Southern Command, which oversees American military operations 31 countries.

The globes house two 16-meter satellite dishes and a 14-meter dish. At left is a photo from inside the protective structure showing the rear assembly of the satellite antenna. The covering provides cover from high winds, a critical consideration in Miami. The protection was tested in 2005, when winds from Hurricane Wilma reached 135 miles an hour, and the satellite dishes remained operational. Recent construction in the area may make future hurricanes more challenging, as several new residential towers are significantly higher than the six-story NAP of the Americas, creating the potential for wind-blown debris.

The company's new NAP of the Capital Region data center campus in Culpeper, Va. will feature a total of nine covered satellite antennas, according to site plans.