Sea Technology

NOV 2018

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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Page 24 of 52

24 ST | November 2018 seLINK—a new, state-of-the-art connectivity solution for vessels in commercial shipping, fishing, yachting and a variety of maritime operations—are helping captains and crews overcome the challenges of weather, mobility and remoteness that for decades have thwarted reliable com- munications at sea. A New Constellation for a New Era Of Satellite Connectivity Today, satellites are handling ever-increasing amounts of the world's commercial and military communications data, and Thales and Iridium are providing the technol- ogy for a new generation of innovative, space-based, broadband connectivity platforms. Whether it's for an Antarctic expedition, on board a ship in polar seas or on a plane flying over remote re- gions, one thing is an absolute must-have in the Digital Age: satellite communications. Four suppliers have es- tablished themselves in this market segment, and one of the leading companies is Iridium Communications Inc. First launched in 1998 as Motorola subsidiary Iridium SSC, the Iridium network was envisioned exclusively as a telephony enterprise. However, as circumstances changed and technolo- gy evolved, Iridium—now an independent company— recognized an opportunity to reboot its network into a unique voice and data satellite services provider. Today, Iridium boasts hundreds of thousands of subscribers supporting maritime, aviation, machine-to-machine and terrestrial activities. With the experience of industry vet- erans, Iridium has established itself as a major player in the mobile satellite services arena. As exemplified by the Iridium NEXT initiative, the future of space-based communications technology re- sides with high-throughput satellites. Iridium NEXT will maintain a uniquely sophisticated architecture of 66 cross-linked satellites, delivering high-quality, truly mobile voice and data coverage over the planet's entire surface—including oceans, airways and polar regions. On Iridium NEXT, communications routing is not via a ground network but rather through cross-linked satel- lites, according to a "smart" mesh architecture. A meshed constellation of interconnected, cross- linked satellites work in a way that each satellite "talks" with the other nearby satellites in front, be- hind and adjacent orbits. In space, each Iridium satellite is linked to up to four others, creating a dy- namic network that routes traf- fic among satellites to ensure global coverage, even when traditional local systems are unavailable. In addition, its L-band availability allows customers to take advantage of reduced interference from weather and provides a more reliable network. The mesh ensures global coverage, while doing away with the need for ground telecom networks. This "smart" in-orbit routing is enabled thanks to the use of comput- ers having the most advanced embedded software tech- nologies. This independence from any ground network allows the Iridium system to be highly resistant to dis- ruptions. Iridium NEXT offers higher data speeds, flexi- ble bandwidth allocation and IP-based routing, making Iridium NEXT a significant space resource for maritime operations. Adding to the constellation's reliability, the large number of fast-moving low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, with multiple overlapping spot beams, minimizes missed connections and dropped calls. The LEO orbit also pro- vides a shorter transmission path with less signal attenua- tion. Six in-orbit spares can also be quickly repositioned and activated, as needed. At only 476 (780 km) from the Earth, the proximity of Iridium's LEO network means pole-to-pole coverage, a shorter transmission path, stronger signals, lower latency and shorter registration time than with GEO satellites. Combined with redundancies across the network and secure, dedicated ground infrastructure, this unique configuration will allow services like Thales VesseLINK to continue to remain unaffected by natural disasters, in- cluding hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes that can cripple terrestrial infrastructure. New Network: Iridium Certus Delivering global, reliable and enterprise-grade ser- vices while redefining the capabilities of satellite com- munications, Iridium Certus is the new service platform to be powered by the Iridium NEXT constellation. Irid- ium Certus will offer more than just connectivity—it is a portfolio of ever-expanding service offerings that will feature more coverage than any other satellite operator. With a range of speeds eventually up to 1.4 megabits per second, Iridium Certus supports an innovative port- folio of partner products and satisfies a wide-ranging set of maritime communications solutions. From merchant vessels to the coast guard, Iridium is a preferred, trusted provider for maritime satellite communications for op- erational and safety services. Thales VesseLINK on Irid- The VesseLINK antenna is a high-gain, elec- tronic phased-array antenna that enables fast upload and download speeds to cover any vessel communications need—from safety services to operational reporting and logging. To meet the challenges of maritime environments, VesseLINK hardware is ruggedized. The mo- dem resides inside the terminal, which is constructed of full die-cast aluminum and is IP67 rated for protection against the elements.

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