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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

MEO has space for long-term satellite deployment

Mon 26 Mar 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

MEO has space for long-term satellite deployment
ITC Global VSAT installation

New satellite constellations in low and medium Earth orbits will change maritime VSAT for the better by giving service providers more options for shipowners. There will also be greater integration of communications through existing 4G and new generation 5G cellular networks that will be extended further away from coastlines.

ITC Global vice president for global engineering Sanjay Singam expects new satellite constellations will be launched in low Earth orbit (LEO) over the next three years with OneWeb and Telesat beginning to build their networks and LeoSat contemplating investment in one. However, other generations of constellations could be deployed in medium Earth orbit (MEO).

“Space above Earth will become crowded in LEO and geostationary orbits,” Mr Singam said. “But at MEO levels, there is more space.” He explained that MEO satellites, such as the O3b constellation operated by SES, a longer lifetime than LEO satellites.

“Space above Earth will become crowded in LEO and geostationary orbits”

“We will see new LEO constellations and some other entrants are looking at the MEO market,” he said. “5G technology is also coming with this type of infrastructure to be built offshore because the traffic back to shore has cellular network timelines.” Tampnet already operates 3G/4G networks using oil and gas production platforms in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

ITC offers shipowners a tertiary network using VSAT and L-band from geostationary satellites and Tampnet’s services where available for redundancy. It has started utilising spot beams on Eutelsat 172B satellite for coverage over Asia and Alaska, and on the Telesat 12 Vantage satellite for the Middle East. In August or September, ITC expects to offer spot beams to ships in the Great Lakes, eastern Canada and Gulf of Mexico on SES-14, said Mr Singam.

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