Houston: Satellite communications have historically been facilitated by antennas which have been primarily single-band and required physically and manually changing parts to switch between them. This not only means additional costs and engineering labour but it also takes a substantial amount of time, leaving these businesses potentially down for an extended period of time. Tapping into advice from its customer advisory board, Harris CapRock saw an opportunity to change the perception of satellite communications as a solution of last resort offshore by building a system that would meet the unique connectivity needs of customers with the most demanding mobility and reliability requirements.
Harris CapRock recently developed Harris CapRock One, something Tim Lajza, head of the company’s maritime division, describes as “an intelligent, geographically aware, highly integrated, fully managed end-to-end service offering that covers the globe while transparently switching between transport mediums for optimised communications and reduced costs of data, voice and equipment management”.
Harris CapRock’s service offering is comprised of a multi-band antenna and an Intelligent Communications Director (ICD). The multi-band antenna allows for C-, Ka- and Ku-band connectivity with no additional moving parts in a mechanically passive arrangement, meaning that any satellite orbiting the Earth can be accessed with no technician intervention required.
In order to take advantage of geographic awareness, the multi-band antenna works in tandem with the ICD. The ICD is a location-savvy smartbox that recognises where the multi-band antenna is around the world and carries a database of the network footprints available. Additionally, the device is aware of the operator’s traffic. It can route the traffic intelligently over the most appropriate network path using the multi-band antenna based on what the application commonly requires.
“By optimising the network traffic,” Lajza explains, “the ICD enhances the end-to-end experience and thus completes a game-changing intelligent routing solution with end-to-end application performance management for satellite communications.”
In terms of what maritime customers are clamouring for these days, Lajza is clear.
“Exponentially higher bandwidth levels, simplified pricing models, seamless integration of bandwidth delivered from a variety of satellite and terrestrial-based channels, and greater flexibility in service offerings,” he says, adding: “Globally, data usage keeps going up and the demand for bandwidth is insatiable. Expectations for remote maritime communications are driven by on-land and consumer experiences.”
This demand for ever great bandwidth will only grow and grow, Lajza observes as high definition video demand increases, IoT enables continued operational productivity improvements, and social media further expands across the maritime market.