The maritime market is primarily defined by four key application use areas; commercial shipping, cruise ships, offshore gas / oil exploration and development, and military. All of these markets have the same requirements for ubiquitous service independent of their vessels locations.
Commercial shipping of container, liquid, and bulk carrier deliveries require hemispheric or global coverage for office and crew communications.
Cruise ships are focused on providing higher data rate services for their passengers with full Internet access and real-time interactive services such as VoIP and video.
Offshore exploration and development require office communications with occasional bursts of large amounts of data gathered during exploration.
Users within the military require higher data rate services for access to their online databases and synchronization between other departments and organizations within multiple regions.
The currently available geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) Ku- or C-band satellite TDMA-based solutions require high initial and ongoing capital expense investments to launch and maintain services. These services are limited by the inherent drawbacks of using the TDMA technology with low-powered global satellites. Operating a TDMA-based platform within a mobile environment exacerbate the limitations of this solution. In addition, the bandwidth requirements of the growing array of applications for this market no longer allow service providers to be able to offer a highly oversubscribed service, which is the key advantage of both the LEO and GEO TDMA solutions.
Service providers are moving in the direction of offering a higher, premium level of service to remain competitive and differentiate their services from the many players providing best-effort services to the market.
The Comtech EF Data solution allows a service provider to offer this premium level of service while keeping both capital expense and operating expense at a minimum.
Satellite On The Move
Comtech EF Data has developed Satellite On The Move (SOTM) technology that provides a method of global satellite coverage maintaining communications between different satellite transponders, beams, satellites and teleports within a Vipersat network. This method allows a shipboard satellite terminal to transition between satellite or hub coverage connections with minimal service interruption. The key components to this technology are hub and remote satellite modems, a stabilized mobile antenna system for tracking GEO satellites, a central management system maintaining the remote satellite network communication links, and a mobility controller that maintains the connectivity across multiple satellite service areas.
Though all of the unique considerations when deploying maritime solutions are addressed, the Comtech EF Data maritime solution is also designed to address any network requirement with a non-fixed endpoint. These include communications on the move, flyaway remote earth station platforms, and airborne applications, in addition to maritime. Services built on this solution can provide immediate network access at DSL data rates or higher.
The solution consists of a single platform that delivers seamless connectivity for all IP-based applications, including VoIP, video teleconference, file transfers, internet/intranet, and e-mail. It provides the ability to allocate bandwidth dynamically to mobile vessels based on traffic flow, including changes in the number of types of applications being served. At the same time it is prioritizing by traffic types and maintaining roaming IP network connectivity.
Comtech EF Data can provide this cost saving solution by the company's strengths in all aspects of SCPC technology. Comtech's array of modulation and FEC methods allows the utilization of small aperture, low profile antennas that are desired due to mobile platform constraints. Our use of our SCPC technology minimizes the effects of Doppler shift that occurs with changes in the speed of a vessel while also allowing quick re-acquisition of the signal after a blockage condition occurs. Rounding out this solution is the automatic roaming function of the Vipersat product providing automatic and rapid beam-tobeam, satellite-to-satellite, or teleport-to-teleport transitions.
Vipersat Management System (VMS)
VMS is a feature-rich, capacity and network management system with an intuitive, user-friendly GUI and a high degree of configuration automation. VMS is designed to enable network administrators and satellite service providers to easily configure their networks and rapidly and effectively respond to network anomalies. Much more than just a network monitor and control platform, VMS automates the carrier switching and spectrum management processes within the satellite network.
These capabilities allow SCPC carriers to be resized automatically based on a variety of user-defined policies, providing ondemand services and unparalleled space segment savings. For the mobility market, the VMS topology display of the managed system has been enhanced with a 3D globe view of the network. Globe view displays the real-time status and operation of the network dynamically. Satellite terminals are automatically populated onto the global network and their location, heading, and actual movements are dynamically tracked and displayed on the globe map. The globe map display size, terminal location, rotation, and lighting source are customizable by the operator.
Some customers may not want the location of their remote sites to be transmitted over the network. For this reason we have made it an optional feature, so that location information can be suppressed.
Key features of the VMS include:
- Centralized network and capacity management
- Dynamic SCPC (dSCPC) carrier allocation and true bandwidth on-demand capability
- Automation of space segment capacity efficiencies
- User-defined policies for upstream carrier switching
- Star and mesh capabilities using Dynamic Mesh
- Redundancy configurations for hub and remote hardware
- Use of higher order modulation and Forward Error Correction (FEC) techniques
- Site distribution list in multi-point automatic policy-based switching for IP multicast and mesh topologies
- Switching protocol enabling external messaging to switch carriers to multi-point destinations
- Operates over multiple transponders and satellites
- Scalable from small to large networks
- Auto detection of new nodes
- Detailed event logs able to be filtered and exported
- Ability to generate SNMP traps can be forwarded to hierarchal NMS management platforms
- Complete IP based digital services over satellite
Roaming Oceanic Satellite Server (ROSS)
The Roaming Oceanic Satellite Server (ROSS) is an integrated location server that works in conjunction with our Vipersat Management System (VMS) to facilitate on-the-move satellite communications for oceanic vessels or other mobile platforms.
ROSS enables remote modems to interface with stabilized, auto-tracking antennas, maintaining connectivity as vessels move through footprints of different satellites. Vessel position data, satellite signal and management status are constantly monitored to determine when satellite handoff is necessary.
It is important to note that this decision is made by the vessel and not by a map server located at a central site. This significantly increases the availability of a service.
Comtech EF Data's maritime network solution provides unique benefits in combining the best satellite network efficiency optimizations with an enhanced integrated location server for continuous communications to and between remote vessels on the move. The office environment is extended enabling seamless connectivity between applications like telephone calls, Internet access, video entertainment, data communications, streaming video, web surfing, etc..