Collaborative venture’s new solution allows access to multiple satellites through one receiver dish, a major tech breakthrough.
System is proven in field on high profile off-road drive by motoring media across Scotland.
MutiNet Comms wifi ‘bubble’ supports access by multiple media teams such as Top Gear
When the PR agency for a major global car company needed robust, resilient satellite and integrated Wifi communications to support national motoring media covering a drive across remote and wild regions of Scotland they turned to Primetech for a unique and pioneering solution.
A Primetech-supported media communications vehicle, equipped with a newly developed C-COM/Avanti Ka-band satellite solution, was used to provide reliable voice and data communications for a high profile off-road media expedition in remote Scottish locations. In the process, deployment of the system provided proof of concept for an advanced new combined satellite signal solution for accessing two satellites, delivering improved resilience. The system has a wide variety of other applications.
In the case of the proposed trans-Scotland drive, Primetech worked closely with its partners satellite operator Avanti and satellite receiver manufacturer C-COM, developing, installing and testing a radical new solution that allows two satellites to be accessed through one satellite dish instead of two, a technological breakthrough that is of great interest across a wide variety of sectors.
"It is here that the black G-Wagen unfurls yet another surprise and sprouts an actual satellite dish from which the various media types can check their FaceTwitter and update their vlogs. I pretend to have to do the same, just to fit in.”
The solution was developed and used to support journalists covering a trip by a group of off-road vehicles travelling across 11 remote Scottish estates. It enabled Ka-band mobile satellite broadband to be accessed in remote areas with a high degree of reliability. A Wifi ‘bubble’ around the communications support vehicle enabled the reporters to file their reports back to base. The key challenge was how to guarantee satellite access across the high mountain ranges being crossed, given the height barriers which could have prevented access to satellite signals.
With the new solution developed by the combined satcomms teams, if one Avanti satellite was unable to be accessed because of the remote and mountainous locations preventing signal lock-on, the system would automatically seek out and access another satellite signal, using software developed by satellite receiver manufacturer C-COM. This was all done using just one auto-pointing satellite receiver dish.
With this breakthrough the three partners demonstrated how their elegantly simple solution can provide users of mobile satellite broadband systems with increased signal resilience for a wide variety of different locations, regardless of conditions.
This is of particular interest to mobile satcomms users such as emergency services operating in challenging operating conditions - so called ‘urban canyons’, for example, or in adverse weather conditions and in remote environments.
It will also be of great interest to mountain rescue services and international disaster relief organisations. The new combined solution means that earlier, rather clumsy and expensive attempts to deliver a resilient signal service using two different satellite receivers and systems, covering both the Ka and Ku-bands, have now been rendered obsolete.
Using the new solution, along with other integrated communications solutions, such as Primetech’s MultiNet Comms system delivering COFDM MESH Wifi around communications nodes, the media covering the trip could transmit video, send and receive email, provide live web updates, and link to other communications systems. Safety was also enhanced by having a robust, reliable go anywhere communications system.
Henry Walker, a director of Primetech who was closely involved with the project said: ‘This collaboration between Primetech, C-COM and Avanti has created a technological breakthrough, and the Scotland expedition was a tough test in remote and rugged conditions that proved the concept and the technology.
‘There were a number of key issues to be dealt with and overcome in developing this solution for providing resilient satcomms reception in difficult operating conditions.
‘The first issue was the previous need for two auto pointing systems on the roof of a single vehicle, which is costly and heavy. The Ku band is low bandwidth whilst the Ka band is high bandwidth, a mix of technologies that, for example, works fine if the Ka remains the dominant network. Take for example a situation where video broadcasting is required and can only be achieved on the Ka band; that is great as long as the Ka spacecraft is visible. If it is not then video will fail via the low bandwidth Ku.
‘This new ‘disruptive technology’ solution has been achieved by a ground breaking approach to an age-old problem. Satellite communications are great as long as there is a clear line of sight to the specific spacecraft for which the satellite modem has been configured.
‘A new breed of satellite modems (Ka Band) has emerged that allows more than one profile to be stored in the memory of the modem. (A profile is basically the specific frequency that is transmitted by the spacecraft that the auto pointing system is configured to auto-search for and receive). Being able to store more than one profile means that a single modem can be used to access services on more than one spacecraft.
‘The next technical issue is: how do you programme an auto pointing system to automatically decide that when satellite one (Profile One) is not visible it will automatically search for satellite two (Profile Two)?
‘At this point our long-term partner C-COM entered the picture. To solve the problem C-COM engineers developed software that automatically recognizes - after a pre-set period of time - that the frequency from Profile One has not been seen via the receiver on the auto-pointing unit. It will therefore read Profile Two from the modem and automatically use its auto pointer to search for the frequency of Profile Two. This is ground breaking communications technology, and a potentially massive breakthrough for emergency services.
‘We are happy to have been selected to work on this particular project with our partners at Primetech and Avanti,’ said Leslie Klein, President and CEO of C-COM Satellite Systems Inc. ‘The auto satellite switching feature was developed by C-COM at the request of Primetech to provide seamless remote connectivity using multiple satellites. Having this dual coverage option enabled on our iNetVu controller allows for delivery of more reliable and flexible communication services using High Throughput Satellites and should open up new opportunities for all of us,’ Klein continued.
Enrico Leonardi, Chief Sales Officer for Avanti, said: ‘Using both Avanti’s HYLAS 1 and HYLAS 2 Ka-band satellites means that there is always connectivity available, no matter your location. With both satellites in orbit, a line of sight is always available where the auto pointing system detects the best line of sight for the connectivity. This breakthrough technology is perfect for comms-on-the-pause and a cost-effective way to obtain connectivity in remote regions where terrestrial connections cannot reach. The quality and flexibility of Avanti’s service, combined with the advanced technology, makes the solution a leading choice for the future of emergency services.
Media coverage of trip:
The official video
And out to 21 million top gear fans
Quote: "It is here that the black G-Wagen unfurls yet another surprise and sprouts an actual satellite dish from which the various media types can check their FaceTwitter and update their vlogs. I pretend to have to do the same, just to fit in.”