Satellite connectivity relies upon high-performance, easy to use satellite ground terminals to provide seamless, reliable and robust platforms and services. However, in order to provide maximum service availability for all environments and operations, the communication systems must be light weight, rapidly deployable and easy to use. In order to do this, there needs to be a unique understanding of the operational environment which is embedded into the interoperability of the system to allow the customer to fully exploit the technology at hand.
Simon Tickell has worked within the MoD Communications sector for over 23 years, having spent time in the military planning and building communication networks for the UK Armed Forces. His military background has given him first-hand experience of the importance of secure, reliable communications which he now uses to lead a team accepting and repairing small Satellite Ground Terminals for Airbus Secure Communications.
Hear from Simon as he discusses the importance of terminal design, servicing and repairs for the satellite industry.
Building interoperability and efficiency into satellite terminals
Increasing system capability and versatility
Whether natural, political, social or otherwise, a crisis can’t be predicted, which is why it is critical communication systems and services in place are both scalable and flexible to face the variety of operations at hand. Personnel must be equipped with a set of tools and technologies to facilitate installation and setup for all scenarios. These tools must be easy to install and operate; the quicker the setup and running, the quicker they can focus on the operational task. Complex systems increase the risk of mistakes and security breaches and can lead to interference, ultimately putting the operation at risk.
On military and civil operations, the parameters and services required can change once deployed, so it is essential the services in place keep up with and adapt to these changes. A number of our terminals, including the CCT120 and Tampa 95 ManPack, are modular in design, meaning that the frequency bands can be changed between X, KU and KA with the simple swap out of RF Assembly, while the modem itself can also be swapped out and changed. The modularity of the system allows for maximum flexibility, enabling it to be used on different satellites or incorporated into different Satellite Ground Stations. By being able to change the modular elements, equipment can be back in operation swiftly, keeping costs down.
A number of Airbus units, including the GIN-T LVSS, also have the advantage of 100% in theatre spares, meaning that all the individual cases are interchangeable with each other, enabling quick response and turnaround rates if a node was to go down. In order to increase system capability and versatility as a whole, our units are also designed with multiple fast Ethernet ports for data and or additional VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones, as well as separate ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) ports, giving the user the full flexibility and access to data.
Instant access to satellite services in all environments
When emergency or disaster strikes, there needs to be a coordinated approach to enable fast and effective intervention. The first hours following a crisis are vital; once planning is completed, personnel are deployed almost instantly. However, in order to do this it is critical they have a satellite network configured and ready to be deployed anywhere, anytime. As soon as personnel are deployed, they need instant access to voice, data and video services over satellites. In order to do this, the speed of the network must be configured, infrastructure readily available and equipment deployed and available in all environments, whether wind, sandstorms, rainstorms or snow.
It is critical terminals are deployable in a matter of minutes, and that’s exactly how we have designed ours here at Airbus. Our terminals are easy to use, lightweight and highly portable meaning they can transported to any location with ease, enabling you to arrive at the scene, deploy and be up and running in as little as five minutes. A number of our terminals are also motorised, meaning they require little input from the user. They have also been designed to sustain hostile environments and are fully protected against all environments. Due to the nature and criticalness of the communications needed, the terminals are often deployed in pairs, providing the customer with a fall back should they experience failure in the field, ensuring they are protected and connected at all times.
Continuous, reliable communications when you need them most
Another important aspect to the servicing of terminals is repairs. Operations are reliant on terminals to provide them with the means to communicate, so it is important to ensure that they are not only working as designed, but that they are able to withstand the next environment they are placed in. While all our terminals go through rigorous testing and acceptance to ensure they are at the highest standard of quality and performance, repairs are sometimes needed further down the line. Our Terminal Services engineers are able to complete authorised repairs down to board level, saving on time the terminal has to spend away from operations and the monetary cost of returning each one. Through regular communication and maintained service level improvements, turnaround and productivity is improved, thus creating a product and solution that far exceeds its initial purpose.
The future of Satellite Ground Terminals
In order to ensure the future of terminals, there is a need for innovation, new thinking and revolutionising. One of the focus areas for the future of terminals is to upgrade to motorised versions to allow tracking. By upgrading, or incorporating motors into the terminals, the user is able to track the terminal with a satellite that is not geostationary, allowing it to pick up the satellites beacon; a necessary feature for when satellite fleet become geosynchronous inclined. Here at Airbus, we have already incorporated tracking into a number of our terminals, and it is in the pipeline for incorporating into many more, including the Mantis and CCT120 terminals, expanding their usability much further than ever predicted.
Scalable, flexible, multiservice satellite communications
The more features incorporated into a terminal, not only is it more efficient and beneficial in operation but also in the supply chain. Through having multiple uses and back-ups on hand ready to go, customers are faced with virtually no down time and reduced costs.
Here at Airbus, we use our unique knowledge and expertise to provide you with scalable, flexible, multiservice satellite communications to build and adapt your networks easily and quickly, and in turn improving operational efficiency. We are committed to ensuring our customers receive high performance satellite technology that is not only equipped for the job, but is easy to use and fully versatile, covering your missions whether on land, in air or at sea.
Find out more about our comprehensive SatCom terminal portfolio, or for more information on how we can support your operations, get in contact today.