NetHope Official: Satellite Response to Ebola is on ‘a Scale Never Seen Before’

From Via Satellite

Gisli Olafsson, emergency response director at NetHope, a consortium of 42 top global humanitarian organizations,has been in West Africa as part of the international response to the Ebola outbreak since October 2014. He has traveled between Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, spurring on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to combat the disease throughout the three countries.

Telecommunications infrastructure, a vital part of any emergency response, is often very basic in rural parts of Africa. Most of the time in these regions, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is the fastest mobile data network available, while in the absolute most rural areas, there is no mobile signal at all. In an interview with Via Satellite, Olafsson said the influx of responders into affected rural areas has put pressure on already fragile networks.

Fortunately, there has been an unparalleled response by the satellite industry.

While the industry is often called upon to restore communications in the wake of natural disasters, the Ebola outbreak is different in that the affected area is much larger than a typical disaster.

“In a natural disaster you have a path of destruction,” explained Olafsson. “This path of destruction damages the critical telecommunication infrastructure in that area. Here there was no damage of critical infrastructure. The outbreak however affected the entire three countries, including very remote areas with no existing infrastructure. This led to us having to provide services over a much larger area than we have ever had to deal with before. Overall the response community has brought over 250 mobile satellite terminals and over 100 VSATs into the three countries. This is a scale we have never seen before.”

NetHope has been deploying more than 120 mobile broadband terminals such as Thuraya’s IP+ and Inmarsat’s Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals, as well as more than 50 VSATs. Companies such as Eutelsat and Facebook have also contributed satellite equipment. The majority of the installations have been in rural areas where connectivity was close to non-existent before. This infrastructure is aiding in bringing a halt to the febrile disease’s spread, which can resurface up to 90 days after the last survivor is released. Continue >

Bringing New Hope to Enslaved Children

From Better Satellite World

For most of us, slavery is a horror of the past. It is a current reality, however, in more than 100 coun­tries around the planet.

The Walk Free Foundation estimates that there are nearly 30 million people living today as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers and child brides in forced marriages. According to the UN, girls account for two out of every three child victims and girls and women together make up 70 percent of all victims.

The exploitation of human beings for sex, labor and other purposes happens everywhere, but it clusters in less developed nations, with hot spots in sub-Saharan Africa, India and parts of southeast Asia. It is also in these regions that hope arises, often from unexpected directions.

The Crossover International Academy is a school and home in the Lake Volta basin of Ghana. It is dedicated to helping children escape from slavery and rebuild their lives. Slavery is embedded in the fishing and agricultural economy of the region, and David Yayravi, a refugee from Togo living there, chose to do something about it. He recognized that children could not escape slavery if they had no place to escape to and no hope of a better life. He launched the Crossover Academy in a small schoolhouse to give ex-slaves a safe haven where they could gain an education.

The challenges were as great as the number of children seeking freedom. Education takes dedication and talent but also money, and that last resource was in short supply. Seeking access to better educa­tional resources, Crossover sent an email in April 2013 to iDirect, which sells satellite equipment for Internet connectivity. The cost of that equipment turned out to be much more than the Academy could afford. But days after giving up on the satellite option, Crossover received an email from Josh Cohen of iDirect. Cohen had learned that Crossover was not just a business prospect but a life-saving mission, and he offered to provide the equipment for free. Cohen also introduced Crossover to a local service provider, SkyVision, which agreed to provide 12 months of satellite connectivity free. Continue >

ITC Global and SES to Deploy New Communications Network for Major Oil Producer

From Space Newsfeed

Global satellite operator SES and ITC Global announced a strategic agreement to connect oil and gas operations around the world. As part of the alliance, the companies also announced an agreement to deploy a powerful satellite-delivered enterprise network to support a global oil producer’s connectivity requirements across the Western Hemisphere.

The major oil producer is utilising ITC Global integration expertise and SES network knowledge and capacity aboard three SES satellites to remotely manage and monitor virtually every phase of its operational ecosystem – from exploration vessels and drilling well sites to pipelines and production. The producer’s new, dedicated and reliable satellite communications system delivers a broad range of services, from high-speed Internet access to live HD video coverage of ocean floor drilling activities, throughout its operations in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, southward to the Gulf of Mexico, and further south to Trinidad and Tobago.

“ITC Global and SES have deployed a ground-breaking and trend-setting satellite communications network, fully capable of providing the scalability and flexibility necessary to deliver mission-critical oilfield data across multiple continents,” explained Joe Spytek, ITC Global CEO. “This major oil producer can now remotely and securely manage its operation – tracking everything from the direction of the drill bit piercing the ocean floor to the volume of oil flowing from offshore wells through a vast system of pipelines,” Spytek noted. “Oil and gas operations are interconnected around the world, and we will leverage the global SES constellation to meet the escalating connectivity demand around the world.” Continue >

MSC Begins iDirect Upgrade

From Digitial Ship

MSC Cruises has become the first cruise line in the world to begin to roll out the latest iDX 3.2 software and X7 modem from iDirect, with the aim of optimising its VSAT communications with higher throughput and improved functionality.
Following successful tests of the new iDirect X7 modem in August 2014, MSC’s VSAT provider Marlink began the rollout of the new technology across the 12 ships in the MSC Cruises fleet in October 2014.

“Staying connected is increasingly important to our guests, so MSC Cruises wanted to enhance the onboard Wi-Fi experience by ensuring that more guests can get online at the same time,” said Emilio La Scala, general manager, MSC Cruises Technical Department.

“The iDirect X7 and Marlink C-band VSAT solution secures the bandwidth and performance to provide stable services for both guests and crew.”

The Marlink Global C-band iDirect service has been operational since spring 2014 on the new generation iDirect software, iDX 3.2, which the company says is a pre-requisite for the introduction of the new X7 modem.

All MSC Cruises services using C-band, such as company headquarters and public telephony, GSM voice and data, and ship management LAN communications, will now be routed over the X7 modem, which Marlink says allows for Adaptive TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) to enhance return channel performance and increase network availability on vessels suffering rain fade and satellite link degradation.

“Since we started with the first VSAT for MSC Cruises in 2003, MSC has always been an early adopter, committed to continuously improving the communications user experience for crew and passengers,” said Antoine Lisse, key account manager, Marlink.

“Together we have introduced the latest technology and capabilities, and with iDirect X7 on the C-band service, they will have one of the most advanced VSAT solutions in the market today.” Continue >

Satellite and the Role of Specialized Services for M2M

By Toni Lee Rudnicki, Chief Marketing Officer, VT iDirect

What is the role for satellite in the market for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications? It is a question that I often get asked as customers look towards future TLopportunities.

Most would point to the near ubiquitous level of reliability and availability offered by satellite. After all, the value that M2M presents to an organization is the ability to know where all assets are at any given time. But another area where satellite can play a unique role is with the high level of service specialization.

NSR highlighted this aspect as part of its recently published report titled ‘M2M and IoT via Satellite 5th Edition’. According to NSR, one of the most notable strengths of satellite-based M2M relates to applications that require high-service level agreement (SLA) in remote regions of the globe—often out of the range of terrestrial coverage.

Let’s take a customer in offshore oil and gas, for example. These companies are making a big push towards greater usage of M2M-based applications, such as the use of remote-operated vehicles. Many are using such equipment to help increase production through the ability to perform maintenance on rigs and report any issues back to shore. This is a service that can be highly specialized and tailored to the specific customer based on the level of data that needs to be obtained.

This is one of the distinct values that iDirect delivers with the Intelligent Platform. We have specifically engineered the platform to allow our customers to build out differentiated service offerings. The ability to offer application-level SLAs within a customer’s network, along with multi-tiered services creates a unique opportunity to serve the highly tailored M2M-based demands of customers.

The value of M2M is constantly evolving. Likewise, the role that satellite plays in helping machines talk to other machines is changing. The two fronts seem highly symbiotic on multiple levels.

Good To Go For Gogo

From Satnews

Gogo has received regulatory approval from the FCC to operate its next generation in-flight connectivity technology—2Ku.This FCC approval clears a major hurdle in the path to launching the new service. The approval is a blanket approval from the FCC for Gogo to operate its 2Ku system on 1,000 aircraft.

“Clearing the necessary regulatory hurdles to provide this service to an aircraft flying anywhere around the globe is no small feat. Gogo has proven it is a leader at navigating these environments for all aircraft types no matter where they fly,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “We are happy that the launch of 2Ku is proceeding as planned and are continuing to work with the FAA on approval for installation.”

Gogo expects the new 2Ku technology will outperform other global connectivity solutions currently available in the market. The new antenna technology is expected to deliver peak speeds to the aircraft of more than 70 Mbps. The advantages of 2Ku are significant. The antenna is more spectrally efficient which means it will produce more bandwidth at less cost than competitive solutions. 2Ku’s performance benefits will be even more dramatic in tropical regions where other satellite solutions degrade significantly due to restrictions associated with operating at high skew angles. The antenna itself is only 4.5 inches tall and the low profile produces very little incremental drag on the aircraft.

The 2Ku antenna and its increased spectral efficiency are compatible with today’s and the upcoming Ku-band satellites, including future spot beam satellites. When future satellite technologies become available, Gogo expects peak speeds for the service in excess of 100 Mbps. Because the antenna can be used with any Ku-band satellite, it also avoids the single point of failure that comes with reliance on a single satellite for connectivity in a given region, and offers airlines much desired redundancy and reliability.

Gogo expects the new service to be available for the commercial aviation market in the second half of 2015. Continue >

O3b Networks Floats Their Raft Of Clients…Largest Provider Of Satellite Capacity In The Pacific Region

From Satnews

O3b Networks today confirmed that a raft of clients, including Digicel, PNCC and Palau Telecom, have now successfully gone live on O3b’s unique ‘Fiber in the Sky’ satellite network.

Connected to the O3b network, these telecom operators are able to provide their customers with high speed broadband service, in some cases for the first time, improving user experience and allowing for more and better services.

O3b has become an affordable, reliable alternative to expensive undersea fiber for island nations in the Pacific. The use of O3b satellites, which are closer to the earth than conventional geostationary satellites, reduces latency, increases data rates and improves voice and video quality for the user.

O3b’s total capacity contracted in the Pacific region is now 5 Gbps. The high throughput, low latency solution has been extremely compelling for region operators trying to meet national broadband plans which are poorly supported by the high latency of GEO or the cost of fiber. Today, O3b connects as many Pacific islands as fiber and it is anticipated O3b will outstrip fiber for international connectivity to individual countries in the region in 2015. The company’s clients in the Pacific region include: Digicel PNG, Digicel Samoa, Norfolk Island Telecom, PNCC, Palau Telecom, FSMtC Yap, Telecom Cook Islands and Timor Telecom.

Steve Collar, CEO of O3b, said, “We are delighted to be helping so many clients in the region improve their high speed Internet connection in their markets using O3b’s ‘fiber in the sky’. Already we are the clear market leader in the Pacific. O3b has made enormous progress in the last year. We are now successfully providing the highest performance satellite connectivity the world has ever seen to some of the most remote parts of the world. As such, we are playing a major role in eroding the long-standing digital divide, successfully providing high performance reliable connectivity in remote areas.” Continue >

Inmarsat’s Second Global Xpress Satellite Prepped for Launch

From Via Satellite

Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center, Yuzhny Space Center’s TsENKI division and Boeing are preparing the second Global Xpress High Throughput Satellite (HTS) for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Inmarsat-5 F2 satellite is contracted to launch Jan. 30 aboard a Proton rocket through International Launch Services (ILS).

Global Xpress consists of three in-orbit satellites and one spare. Boeing, the prime contractor for the constellation, began prelaunch testing of the Inmarsat-5 F2 satellite once it arrived on Dec. 18, 2014.

The Moscow-based Khrunichev Space Center is conducting pneumatic tests of the Proton-M rocket along with autonomous tests of the payload fairing. The company is handling the final check-ups of the Breeze-M upper stage propulsion system while the Yuzhny Space Center’s TsENKI division is preparing the launch complex of pad 200 for the mission.

Inmarsat-5 F2 is designed to provide coverage over North and South America as well as the Atlantic Ocean. The full three-satellite constellation is expected to be operational and providing commercial services early in the second half of 2015. Continue >

Ericsson Introduces End-to-end Cloud Solution

From DigitalShip

Ericsson has announced the introduction of Maritime ICT Cloud, an ‘end-to-end’ integrated cloud solution designed to facilitate voyage optimisation, cargo monitoring and crew welfare.

The Swedish telecoms giant says Maritime ICT Cloud will combine a managed cloud solution with industry applications, using real-time traffic, cargo, port, weather and safety data.

This information will be shared across a network made up not only of vessels at sea, but also shore-based operations, maintenance service providers, customer support centres, transportation partners, and port authorities.

Services will include fleet management, engine and fuel monitoring, route optimisation and navigation, as well as crew communications, training and entertainment. Ericsson says everything will be delivered in a single integrated package, from satellite connectivity to application support. Continue>

100 Years of Communications: from Telegraphs to Telephones to Satellites

Dave Davis By Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe 

It has been 100 years since 1914 and the outbreak of The Great War, which became known as The War to End All Wars and then, sadly, from 1939 onwards it was more commonly known as World War I.

The 100 year mark got me thinking about how life was back then and how much has changed in the last century. I took a trip to the Royal Corps of Signals Museum in Southern England to discover more. I only found out about the British communications, but it gave me a flavour of developments at the time.

In 1914, the British Expeditionary Forces’ communications were the responsibility of the Royal Engineer Signal Service, who numbered less than 6,000 people. By the end of the war in 1918, this had increased to more than 70,000 people. In 1914 communications were mainly via laid cables and were telegraph based, using Morse Code. As the war progressed, this changed drastically and by 1918, the telephone was a major part of military communications. However, throughout the war, most communications were either wire based, using cables laid between locations, or used visual signals.

The core principles of ARC were as relevant then as they are now. With cable-based technology, Resilience meant very different challenges to today. Often cables were damaged by indirect fire (artillery or mortars) and needed constant care and attention to keep the lines of communication open. Read More