Low cost, easy to use satellite terminals
Making the use of satellite terminals easier and reducing the cost of operating them are key goals for ESA. Two recently completed projects will help to achieve these goals and bring the advantages of satellite communications to an ever growing user base.
The projects, Easy Line-Up (ELU) from Siemens of Austria and ALways Up SAtellite Terminals (ALUSAT) from the Spanish company IntegraSys, make it easier for operators to install and maintain their systems without the need for time consuming and costly visits from technicians.
A key challenge in making satellite communications more cost effective for the average user is increasing the efficiency of terminal installation. Current practice requires coordination between remote network operators and technicians who must travel to the installation site.
To address this challenge, Siemens has developed a concept called 'Easy Line-Up'. Easy Line-Up is a user-friendly tool that allows users to install the satellite terminal themselves. It does this by guiding the user through the procedure of aligning the terminal and providing feedback on the accuracy of the antenna pointing.
The system consists of two components: a monitoring station and an end-user or installer application. The application can be installed on any standard computer connected to the satellite terminal.
To date over 1500 successful installation line-ups have been performed using Easy Line-Up.
Improved monitoring and repair
ALUSAT is a terminal monitoring and repair aid targeted at low cost broadband satellite networks with large subscriber communities. IntegraSys began work on the product after hearing feedback from network operators such as Hispasat who face the challenge of delivering affordable two-way broadband via satellite. Much time and money are spent on simply setting-up and keeping the terminals running.
ALUSAT is based on an existing tool from IntegraSys, called Satmotion-Pocket, which optimises and eases satellite terminal installations by providing remote uplink monitoring and local control. ALUSAT goes a step further by extending the benefits of Satmotion beyond the installation – it automatically checks for faults in the terminal and diagnoses them.
If a terminal fails due to a minor problem, such as slight antenna misalignment, the system will detect the problem and automatically attempt a repair. Technicians, even minimally skilled ones, can access a graphical console and receive a report or obtain clear instructions on how to solve problems.
ALUSAT includes a powerful recovery tool for network operators, enabling remote testing of installed terminals. All of this serves to reduce the number of service calls and allows repair crews to spend their time more effectively.
Both ALUSAT and ELU have been developed under ESA contracts. Further information is available under ‘Related links’ on the right of this page.