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David C. McCourt, Chairman, Skyware Technologies, said “I am excited to announce a newly formed joint venture between Skyware Technologies and TAQNIA in Saudi Arabia. This is an extremely exciting development for Skyware Technologies that will greatly expand our capabilities and product line and allow us to more efficiently deliver our products throughout the world.”
Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has announced, following extensive testing, that it has granted full Type Approval for Skyware Technologies’ ATOM 99 flyaway terminal, for use in its new Ka-band Global Xpress satellite service.
This Skyware Technologies terminal features an antenna measuring 99cm in diameter, making it the largest portable Global Xpress terminal to date.
With the increasing number of Ka-band High Throughput Satellites (HTS) coming into service, there is a growing need to provide affordable solutions for compatible ground terminal equipment. To be competitive, these need to offer a rich feature set, great flexibility, increased power, and high reliability to serve both enterprise as well as government applications.
To address this need Skyware Technologies has developed, with support from the European Space Agency (ESA), a new next-generation Ka-band transceiver for use with satcom terminals. This new highly flexible transceiver platform, called Mercury, offers a variety of receive and transmit options to the end user including switchable frequency bands, electronically switchable polarisation, plus comprehensive in-built Monitoring and Control (M&C) capabilities. Skyware Technologies was the prime contractor to ESA for this project, turning the Ka-band technology developed in the ESA ARTES 3-4 project into a successful product line.
“The Mercury project has benefitted Skyware both from an engineering perspective and a commercial perspective,” says David Geen, VP Business Development at Skyware. “On the engineering side, it has extended our capabilities through the implementation of higher RF powers (5W now with 10W in the pipeline), wider bandwidths (2GHz receive and 2GHz transmit), flexible integration methods, and more feature-rich M&C. On the commercial side, it has allowed us to expand our customer base to include key industry players who now act as value-added resellers for our new range of Mercury-based products, such as the ATOM FlyAway terminals.”
The new transceiver is now in production with hundreds of units shipped for applications that include Inmarsat’s Global Xpress, Athena Fidus, and other regional satellite network platforms. “The technology developed through the Mercury project is finding its way into a range of new products, allowing us to address different market sectors with innovative features and capabilities,” says David Geen.
"High throughput Ka-band satellites have become one of the most important segments of the satcoms industry," says Enrico Lia, microwave engineer and Mercury project supervisor at ESA. "It was critical for the competitiveness of the European space industry to have strong offerings in this market. The technology from Mercury supports comms on the move, comms on the pause, manpack as well as fixed systems. Its flexibility is key for these new systems."
The Telecommunications and Integrated Applications (TIA) directorate of ESA operate the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme enabling European and Canadian industry to explore innovative concepts to produce leading-edge satcom products and services.
26 August 2015: Skyware Technologies is pleased to announce that after extensive testing on the Inmarsat-5 F1 satellite, Skyware Technologies’ ATOM 65 auto acquire (AA) fly away terminal is among the first set of auto aquire terminals to receive full type approval for use over the Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) network.
The ATOM 65 AA is designed for quick deployment by users with minimal training and offers a powerful flyaway solution to meet the mobility needs of customers for a wide range of government and enterprise requirements with minimal use of manpower. As with the other SKY and ATOM GX series, the ATOM 65 AA comes standard with Skyware Technologies’ proven “DRC” 5W RF transceiver providing a highly reliable and silent fan-free solution to meet the rigors of a range of harsh environmental conditions.
“The first auto acquire terminal being approved by Inmarsat gives us the confidence to be on the right track with our products development. Our ATOM 65 AA will provide GX end users with the easiest possible way to set up a mobile satellite terminal in the market.” said Oliver Kroner, Skyware Technologies CEO.
Ka-band is being touted by some as the next big thing for satellite technology, with smaller terminals and dramatically lower costs - but how does it really compare against both legacy and emerging Ku based solutions? Getting clear and concise information about the Ka and Ku bands and their respective strengths and weaknesses is no mean feat, and there continues to be a debate around which of the two provides a better foundation for communications services.
Fundamentally, the discussion is based on the trade-offs between different RF frequencies. Ku-band occupies approximately 12-18 GHz, while Ka-band is allocated to the 26.5-40 GHz range of the electromagnetic spectrum. To get more granular in the debate, we must examine several important factors related to these different frequencies such as: antenna size, susceptibility to environmental interference, and geographical availability.
Figure 1. A Comparison of Frequency Bands and Corresponding Features
Antenna size has important implications for performance and is necessary to consider when calculating a link budget for a particular application. The higher frequency Ka-band allows use of antennas that are a quarter the size of their Ku counterparts in order to achieve the same gain characteristics. For example, the Skyware Global 1.8m Ka antenna has a transmit gain of 52.5 dBi at 30.0 GHz, compared to the same size 1.8m Ku antenna with a gain of 46.8 dBi at 14.3 GHz. This is almost four times more gain from the Ka antenna. The smaller antenna size for Ka systems vs Ku certainly has its advantages, dramatically reducing the space and weight needed for transportation, and allowing global mobility like never before.
Environmental Interference, a.k.a. “Rain fade”
“Rain fade,” or interference caused by certain atmospheric conditions, is a frequently discussed topic in the Ka- vs. Ku-band arena, and is one of the biggest challenges affecting communications reliability. Rain fade is generally caused by wet snow and other moist precipitation (interestingly, dry snow has a minimal impact). The most significant attenuation due to rain is typically seen during relatively short periods of very intense rainfall.
With satellite bands, the higher the frequency/smaller the wavelength, the more susceptible it is to weather and atmospheric interference. Because Ka-band is at the top of the commercially available frequency range, it is somewhat more complex to provide high availability and reliable services as compared with lower frequencies. However, because the legacy Ku-band is also impacted by rain fade, an array technologies have been developed to help mitigate the effect of weather for systems across both frequency ranges.
For example, Newtec has announced a suite of hub and modem technologies that work in concert to overcome interference. Some of these technologies are known as FlexACM, Cross-Layer-Optimisation and Mx-DMA, which can be integrated into existing infrastructures. FlexACM works by optimising IP backbone and IP trunking, by automatically checking link conditions, anticipating degrading, and dynamically adjusting the satellite link parameters accordingly. Cross-Layer-Optimisation can be used in conjunction with this technology, and further improves performance by shaping both the IP and RF part of the network.
For fixed bit rate services, Mx-DMA technology can ensure reliable bandwidth and service without the extra costs encountered with traditional outbound mitigation technologies such as ACM - in the case of rain, simply the baud rate of the carrier where it rains is increased, while dynamically the center frequency of the other carriers is moved, ensuring a fixed bit rate for all carriers. Combined, these bandwidth management technologies go far to reducing the impact of rain fade interference.
June 3rd 2015: Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, is pleased to announce that after extensive testing on Inmarsat-5 F1, the Skyware Technologies SKY 98 GX, SKY 180 GX, and ATOM 65 GX with Assisted Pointing terminals have received full type approval for use over the Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) network.
The ATOM 65 GX with Assisted Pointing is the smallest and lightest commercial transportable terminal available for GX. Designed for quick deployment by users with minimal training, the ATOM 65 GX offers a powerful flyaway solution to meet the mobility needs of users for a range of enterprise, NGO, and government missions. The ATOM 65 GX is available with two airline-compliant rugged cases for airline check-in. As with the SKY GX series, the ATOM 65 GX comes standard with Skyware Technologies’ proven “DRC” 5W RF transceiver providing a highly reliable and silent fan-free solution to meet the rigours of a range of harsh environmental conditions.
The SKY 98 and SKY 180 fixed terminals have also received full type approval for Global Xpress. With reflector sizes of 98cm and 180cm respectively, and flexible mounting options including king post and non-penetrating roof mounts, the SKY GX series of terminals offers a cost-effective solution for a range of enterprise and governmental applications. The options in aperture size provide Inmarsat customers with scalability to match their throughput, environmental and service availability needs.
Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network offers the first end-to-end broadband solution available almost anywhere on the planet with a single network service from a single network operator. It is the most advanced Ka band VSAT service for land, sea and air and offers faster speed and more secure communications than previous global satellite connectivity solutions.
To deliver this service, Inmarsat is investing US$1.6 billion in ground and space infrastructure. The new “Inmarsat-5” constellation consists of three satellites, constructed by Boeing, two of which have already been launched, and the third which is expected to launch before the end of 2015. The first satellite covers Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the second covers the Atlantic Ocean region and Americas, and the last satellite will cover the Pacific Ocean region.
Skyware Technologies: A Unique Player in Terminal Development
Skyware Technologies holds a unique position in the antenna manufacturing market as it is a one-stop-shop, integrating electronics and terminals under one roof. The company was selected by Inmarsat as a Global Xpress terminal technology partner and is now in the process of shipping its ATOM and SKY terminals. Helen Jameson spoke to Oliver Kroner, Managing Director of Skyware Technologies and Tim Mills, VP Sales and Marketing at Skyware Global about the unique nature of the company, the terminals themselves and the company’s focus on R&D.
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Skyware Technologies are delighted to announce yet another milestone for the company and Inmarsat’s GX network. We have begun shipment of our GX terminals - The transportable ATOM 65 and fixed SKY terminals.
The ATOM 65 is the smallest and lightest (33% lighter than the closest alternative) transportable terminal available for Global Xpress resulting from an efficient carbon fiber dual-reflector antenna system and integrated RF transceiver package, and can be assembled without tools in less than two minutes.
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