Category Archives: Technology

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 >

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

iDirect Corporate Professional Training Schedule for 2015

The 2015 iDirect Corporate Professional Training Schedule is now available.

Since the schedule is posted for the entire year, you may:

1.       Gauge which course(s) you can attend with the little time you may have available, thus making the best use of your time.

2.       Forge a contingency to handle anything unexpected in your daily routine.

3.       Lower the worry/stress by avoiding the pitfall of over committing yourself to training sessions.

iDirect prides itself on having a top-notch training department. Our trainers are well versed in iDirect products and solutions; learning from them will help you excel at your job.  We have high-tech training locations throughout the world. Attend a course at our headquarters in Herndon, Va., or choose from five other locations: Dubai, London Moscow, Singapore and South Africa.

The core courses offered in 2015 are:

1.       iDirect Installation and Maintenance 3.2 (iOM)

2.       iDirect Advanced Installation and Maintenance 3.2 (Advanced iOM)

3.       Quality of Service (QoS) Boot Camp

Registering is easy. Find the course(s) you’d like to take and e-mail or call Patsey Rios, our training coordinator, at prios@idirect.net or +1 703-648-8240.

This may be your best investment for 2015. Come gain in-depth knowledge about iDirect products, plus network with your industry peers. We look forward to seeing you.

iDirect Year in Review

As 2014 comes to close, the satellite industry can reflect back on a year of great Mary Cottonopportunity and working transition.

Front-and-center throughout the year was the topic of high throughput satellite (HTS). But HTS remains a long-term endeavor. Looking ahead, much work will focus on how HTS changes the ways in which networks are designed, services are offered and operations are managed.

Aside from HTS, this past year brought forth continued growth within key satellite markets, as well as increased demand for high bandwidth networks across many traditional markets. Markets like cellular backhaul and mobility present ample opportunity for satellite to display its unique set of value propositions.

Mary Cotton, CEO of iDirect, expounds on both topics and more in a featured satellite year-in-review article published by SatMagazine. Click here to read this exclusive piece.

Why an NMS is Critical to Service Quality

We recently sat down with Chris Burdick, iDirect’s Vice President, Product Management,Chris Burdick NMS, to better understand the importance of the Network Management System (NMS) as the critical “glue” that binds all parts of a satellite communications platform together.

iDirect:  Have Network Management Systems (NMSs) have been underappreciated by the industry?

Chris:  I think service providers have always understood the importance of network management because it’s essential to the deployment of their networks and operation of their services. The more sophisticated the service provider, the more they see the need for a powerful NMS, especially when they start looking at combining terrestrial links with satellite to form a complete end-to-end network. This has been one of the reasons iDirect has been successful:  we understood from day one how important network management is. Our customers saw the NMS tools we provided and were impressed by how easy it was to set-up and run a network; it was very compelling.

But as for equipment and network element manufacturers in general… quite often, the NMS has been considered an afterthought. I think manufacturers are in love with the technology of transferring bits across a satellite without really thinking about how that scales for a service provider. For them, the NMS becomes little more than a series of check-boxes. They don’t take the time to truly understand how service providers will use the hardware and manage their business day to day. But at iDirect, we’ve made it a point to work closely with our customers and understand how they operate, because we know that an NMS touches every aspect of a service provider’s business and can have a major impact.

iDirect:  As an example of that impact, how are monitoring and service quality closely linked?

Chris:  The NMS establishes the configuration that governs how the various pieces of equipment work, individually and together, and a critical part of that configuration is quality of service. End users buy a certain type of service and they expect it to work as advertised. You can’t possibly offer any type of guaranteed or even contended service on a TDMA network without being able to specifically define how that service is supposed to behave, and then being able to prove to yourself and to your customers that it’s actually behaving that way. Read More

Essential Network Management

We recently sat down with Chris Burdick, iDirect’s Vice President, Product Management, NMS, to better understand the importance of the Network Management System (NMS) as the critical “glue” that binds all parts of a satellite communications platform together.

iDirect:  What is a Network Management System (NMS)?

Chris:  A Network Management System controls and manages the components of a communications network. We call all the separate components of hardware in a network, such as satellite routers, “network elements.” An NMS controls all these interconnected elements, similar to the way an operating system controls the services on a computer.

iDirect:  What are the key functions the NMS provides?

Chris:  At its core, an NMS provides configuration, control, monitoring, and reporting capabilities. Configuration allows users to define the operating parameters of all network elements, and ensures that the configuration is consistent across all the parts of the network so network communication is properly maintained. Control refers to the process of making specific configurations operational on the network elements, and also ensures the correct version of software/firmware is applied to those elements.

Monitoring allows users to examine the performance of elements, detects any anomalous conditions that may raise alarms, and offers real-time debugging tools to investigate those alarms and resolve them. The NMS also provides longer-term reporting capabilities, allowing for trend analysis, usage based accounting, and other types of historical reporting on how network elements have behaved over time. Read More

The ARC to Success

Dave DavisDave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe 

The recent Global MilSatcom conference was a roaring success.

For the uninitiated, Global MilSatcom is THE annual catch up on all things military and Satcom. As always, there are generic themes that weave their way through the conference and this year was no exception, with notable mentions going to Comms-on-the-Move (COTM), Aero platforms, the additional requirements for training and welfare, SWaP, and of course UAS.

However, there are constant themes that reappear on an annual basis and this is summed up using the acronym ARC, or Affordability, Resilience and Capability. Some even suggested we should start a drinking game and every time a speaker mentions one of these three, we all sip from a glass of our chosen tipple. If we did do this, I doubt many people would make it to day two of the conference.

Affordability-Resilience-Capability

Affordability is absolutely key in today’s constrained budgets. I, for one, was surprised to see the figures on the declining percentage of GDP spent on military communications. Don’t get me wrong, a smaller percentage of an increasing amount is still very, very significant, but it’s an indicator of the economic times and even the mighty BRICS still have to be frugal and get the most bang for their buck. Read More

Talia US Launches Mobile Comms Vehicle and Global MPLS Expansion to the Americas at OilComm 2014

From Talia

Oilcomm-2014-Talia-smart-carTalia looks set to turn heads at their exhibition at OilComm 2014, by launching their new Mobile Communications Vehicle, which is sure to take remote communication to the next level.

OilComm, the Oil and Gas Industry’s annual expo, which sees professionals from both Oil and Gas companies come together to view the new technologies and solutions available to them, is running over 3 days in November and is the leading forum for oil and gas industry experts. The conference and expo will host some great keynote speakers and displays of new and improved technology, tailored to making the industry smarter. Talia will therefore be likely to catch the eye of many of the attendees here by showcasing their Mobile Communication vehicle at their exhibition space.

The global communication experts, who have recently set up a regional office in The Woodlands, Texas, headed up by ex Orange America’s Kurt Spindle, have long been providing solutions to those in need of remote comms. Their main service offerings are to those in the Oil and Gas and Construction industries, and have put their expertise to good use by developing this vehicle, which will be enable a satellite connection to be driven to almost any location in the world. Read More

Find a Satellite the Easy Way with SatMotion Pocket

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

In my last blog, “Advanced technology comes with challenges,” I discussed three challenges that come with employing advanced satellite technology. As well as interoperability and the requirement to manage divergent networks, one of the key challenges facing troops on the ground is the increasing complexity of satellite technology and the training required to be able to set up a satellite terminal and commission it into an existing network. Add to this a high-pressure environment and you have the necessity to be able to set equipment up rapidly and with ease.

The next-gen remotes iDirect offers, the 950mp and 9350, will not only be more powerful than anything on offer currently, but they’ll also be easier to use. However, there’s a very powerful tool already on offer, which already makes commissioning remotes that much easier.

Some of the satellite terminals containing the iDirect board product, the e850mp, are designed to reduce the amount of interaction required, but the user still has to align the antenna and carry out basic commissioning protocols.

With a traditional VSAT (made up of an indoor router and an outdoor antenna, BUC and LNB), the issue becomes more pressing with a full line up required. Also, a knowledge of how to operate a spectrum analyser is needed, along with a back channel method of communications with a Network Operations Centre (NOC) to carry out the test, requiring a satellite phone, or similar. Read More

Advanced Technology Comes with Challenges

Dave DavisDave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe

There has been a massive explosion in the amount of data being passed across satellite technologies over the last few years. In the military environment, the drivers are broadly the same and a need for high quality, or high volume video imagery is at the forefront.

Military surveillance is getting more and more sophisticated and technologies like Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4k imagery are being used to give an ever clearer picture of what’s happening on the front line. The requirement of backhauling this imagery from remote or temporary locations means that satellite links are the go-to technology.

Another technology driving the throughput of satellite links is cellular backhaul, where deployed bubbles or puddles of coverage, be it 3G or LTE, are used to connect the devices that are already deployed into the wider network seamlessly.

These devices operate as you would expect in any well served street at home. This is known as Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. This also means that devices can be upgraded, replaced or adapted and will still connect anywhere, any time. The key word is interoperability, but it produces an increased reliance on satellite technology.

It is critical that we future-proof these satellite links for the next cellular generation, 5G. Although 5G, is “beyond 2020,” work has already started and it will no doubt, produce data requirements way above and beyond the current needs. A scalable, flexible platform is an absolute must to be able to cope with growth and change. Read More