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Summer 2012

Where Telecoms & Energy Connect

Inside this issue

Deploying Satellite Comms To Keep the Power On

The Challenges of Effective Information Provision

Financial Principles of O&G Network Design

Who’s Harnessing Comms 28,000km Closer to Earth?

What’s Next for Rural Broadband?

Simply the best events for quality global networking and real live working innovation

CTLD Publishing Ltd

Quarterly OffComm News ~ Summer 2012



OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


Summer 2012

In Print. Online. Offshore. Editor’s Introduction Welcome to the latest issue of OffComm News. We’ve been busy tracking developments across the telecoms sector pertinent to the oil and gas industry. On page 11 you can read about O3b Networks, a company founded by Greg Wyler. After purchasing a telecoms network in Rwanda he embarked on a journey to harness satellite innovation and bring a communications network almost 30,000km closer to the earth ~ along with some significant cost savings and greater bandwidth for the three billion people who are currently too far removed from a satisfactory connection. Lively debate formed around how the latest developments in maritime communications can help attract the next generation of seafarers at a special roundtable event in Mumbai in April. OffComm News’ insight sparked interest amongst the delegates and the event’s Chair, Roger Adamson, CEO at Stark Moore Macmillan, kindly shares his insight afterwards on page 17. Kevin Franciotti, VP Operations, North America for ITC Global talks about making a strategic investment in a corporate communications network; and discusses that, while being critical to operational and business success, often this is a decision many companies don’t fully plan. Read about it from page 21. Just before that feature, Bernie Branfield at Datasat Communications looks at the extreme costs involved with exploration; this time from a mining perspective. (see page 20) Researching topics to address for the remainder of this year kicked up a few surprises. It seems that a couple of areas in the remote comms sector are completely lacking attention. We’ll be investigating further, asking some tough questions and bringing you the answers over the next few editions of OffComm News. Until then, enjoy the summer, enjoy this issue, and if you feel like getting in touch I’d be pleased to hear from you.

PS: Why not join us for an online discussion regarding one of the last remaining spaces for telecom penetration, its challenges and opportunities. See page 19 for more details

Georgina Elrington

Next Issue: Autumn 2012 Out July / August

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Main Contents Page 4—5 The Quarterly News round up from the last quarter for your easy and continual reference. Page 8 Diary Dates Quality networking for the remote comms world. Page 11 Feature: Company Profile Every issue, OffComm News seeks out the hot spots of opportunity, the challenges of harsh and remote comms environments and the companies rising to face them. For this edition Georgina Elrington spoke to Steven Blumenthal, Senior Vice President of product development at O3b Networks. Page 14 Feature: The Rural Broadband Summit Round Up What’s Next? Insight into the first ever summit of its kind in Dubai at MEA Broadband. Page 17 Comment: Deploying Satellite Comms to Keep Powering the Workforce What happened when a roundtable, in Mumbai in April, tackled the comms challenges surrounding crew welfare and retaining quality workers. Lively debate ensued, chaired by Roger Adamson, CEO at Stark Moore Macmillan. Page 20 Feature: An estimated $15 billion each year accounts for poor decision making from lack of access to relevant information regarding communications. Bernie Branfield from Datasat Communications looks at the extreme costs associated with exploration, production and operations. Page 21 Feature: Five Principles of Network Design While VSAT-based networks are helping oil & gas companies solve core communications challenges, it needs a properly designed network. to maximize effectiveness. ITC Global’s Kevin Franciotti takes a look at the key points. Page 23 Vizada helps crews to do more offshore ~ and increases crew moral.

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The Quarterly OffComm News Round Up

Provider Secures Capacity to Deliver to GoM Rigs and Vessels

Industrial Oil & Gas Comms Manufacturer in Expansion Acquisition X-Change Corporation has entered into a contract to acquire Guardian Telecom, Inc. from SubMicron Technologies, Inc. Guardian Telecom, Inc. is a design and manufacturer of industrial communication equipment for oil and gas companies for on- and off-shore rigs, oil refineries, mining, nuclear and power facilities worldwide. Guardian Telecom has recently expanded its markets into the petrochemical, chemical and manufacturing facilities and has 75-plus employees. The a c q ui s i t io n w i ll e x p a nd X - Ch a n g e Corporation's product line and services in developmental and exploratory drilling, operation of wells on leases, and the servicing of drilling and workover rigs. Headquarters will be moved to Houston.

SES announced that ITC Global, a provider of satellite communications services to remote mining, oil & gas and maritime operations, has renewed a capacity deal to deliver connectivity to rigs and vessels throughout the Gulf of Mexico region (GOM). Under the multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement, ITC Global is utilizing 42MHz on SES’ AMC-9 satellite to deliver high speed broadband and secure corporate network solutions to crews on ships at sea and remote oil drilling platforms. “SES satellites and people provide the reach and expertise we need to meet the needs of our diverse customer base across the Gulf of Mexico and beyond,” said Joseph Spytek, CEO of ITC Global. “AMC-9 is our strategic regional platform of choice, while the SES fleet offers seamless global growth opportunities virtually anywhere we want to expand.”

Enhanced VSAT Services for the Oil and Gas Sector in the Middle East

Enhanced Communication at Sea with Linkscape and KNS Alliance

iDirect announced that RigNet, a provider of managed remote communications solutions to the oil and gas industry, has deployed a Series 15100 Universal Satellite hub in Doha, Qatar.

The resulting combination allows for a simple two-cable installation with a single 1U below deck unit ~ and no other external components ~ to provide shared and dedicated bandwidth for yachts, commercial vessels and cruise ships.

The hub will extend RigNet's VSAT coverage in the Middle East. RigNet supports critical applications for the oil and gas industry, such as broadband data, voice and video communications, as well as real-time data management. Through RigNet, oil and gas companies can keep their offshore sites connected with central offices to improve operational efficiencies. "Oil and gas companies must increasingly support a range of critical new bandwidth-heavy applications across their entire organization. iDirect's technology allows managed services providers like RigNet to deliver more flexible and efficient communications solutions to oil and gas companies, ensuring that their networks stay online and available whenever they are needed.", Rob Kilroy, regional vice president of sales, Americas, iDirect.

Providing Ku and C band coverage across the Americas, Caribbean, Europe, Asia and extended coverage worldwide, a press release claims this to be the fastest internet on the market with an extensive virtual office, phone, fax, e-mail, web and data service offering. LinkScape VP of business development, David Horacek said, “Timing could not be better. We have completed enhancements to our UltraVSAT™ modem platform and combining this with KNS’ reputation in manufacturing the most advanced antennas on the market, our global Ku and C Band VSAT networks are now stronger than ever.” The Linkscape Eagle modem

NEWS IN BRIEF... Inmarsat launched free shore- to- ship pr ior ity voice calling for rescue coordination centres (RCC). The service allows a maritime RCC to place a priority voice call to any s hi p equ ip pe d wi th Inmarsat equipment, with the space segment of the call being free of charge. Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Wavestream® introduced a new 80W X-band Matchbox solid state power amplifier to address the needs of military and government applications. The 80W X-band offers bot h e f fic ie nc y and performance that make it particularly well suited for mobile SATCOM, flyaway and VSAT sa tel l i te communication systems. SES says that Saudi comms service provider and systems integrator, ICCES, signed a deal to serve new markets across the Middle East and North Africa. SES' 50th and largest satellite also allows connection for oil & gas drilling rigs and ships off Saudi Arabia’s southern coast.

Other SES news: SES-4 satellite is now fully operational, replacing the NSS-7, to provide incremental capacity over the Atlantic Ocean via 52 C-band and 72 Ku-band transponders. It serves the eastern hemisphere of Europe, Africa and full coverage of the Americas; plus a global C-band beam supporting mobile and maritime customers.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


The Quarterly OffComm News Round Up

Five Year Deal for Middle East Satellite Broadband Service Internet service provider SkyGate secures five year contract to distribute satellite broadband serv ice S ES Broadband* in the Middle East. SES Broadband is a fast internet solution for SMEs and residential users, especially in remote areas. It is marketed via distribution partners and is suited to areas that lack terrestrial broadband access. "We see growing demand for connectivity coming from this region and with SkyGate we will be able to offer reliable broadband access to businesses and individuals that have so far been lacking internet connection,” said Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer of SES. SkyGate markets SES Broadband to end customers and businesses in the region, offering download speeds of up to 10 Mbps using the ASTRA 3B satellite at the 23.5 degrees East orbital position. * formerly known as ASTRA2Connect

80W X-Band Amplifier Supports Military and Government Operations Wavestream® has introduced a solid state power amplifier to address the needs of military and government applications. The 80W X-band is suited to mobile SATCOM, flyaway and VSAT satellite communication systems. "Staying connected and delivering content reliably is critical to military and government operations," stated Gary Echo, Vice President of business development at Wavestream. "Our 80W X-band is designed and thoroughly tested for use in extreme environments, helping provide uninterrupted connectivity to support mission-critical operations, including humanitarian, disaster recovery, homeland security, and relief and rescue operations worldwide." Wavestream's 80W X-band's small footprint (11" x 5.4" x 4.4") and at 11 lb in weight package can be mounted onto the antenna feed to limit waveguide loss. It is biased for Class AB operation, drawing less power when backed off to help save energy resources. The product also generates less heat, ensuring better Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) for greater reliability and lower lifecycle maintenance costs.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

Adil Toubia appointed CEO of the Siemens Oil & Gas Division Adil Toubia (53) brings three decades of sector experience, and was most recently a partner in Energy Capital Group, a private equity investment firm in the oil and gas industry. Prior to that, he held executive positions at GCC Energy Fund and Schlumberger. He speaks fluent Arabic and English, as well as German, French and Norwegian. The Oil & Gas Division offers products and solutions for the extraction, processing and transport of oil and gas. The portfolio includes industrial gas turbines, compressors and products for deep-sea power supply.

Imtech Marine to become Inmarsat Global Xpress reseller Global Xpress will be the first global Ka-band network, offering the shipping industry true broadband speeds and reliability: up to 50Mbps through a 60-100cm antenna. "Global Xpress will be a world-first in maritime communications, and we are delighted that Imtech will be a frontrunner in offering this solution to the maritime market," said Eric van den Adel, managing director of Imtech Marine. Inmarsat will make XpressLink available to Imtech Marine to offer a bridge to GX with a bundled package of Ku-band VSAT and L-band FleetBroadband.

Global Ka-band Network for Digital News Gathering Inm ars at sig ned a Me mora ndu m of Understanding with GMPCS to appoint the broadcast media solutions specialist as a value added reseller (VAR) of Global Xpress™. The global Ka-band network will provide broadcasters with true broadband speeds of up to 50Mbps to mobile and portable devices. Utilising iDirect technology and user equipment from the leading manufacturers, Global Xpress will take mobile satellite communications into the next generation. The service is planned to launch in Europe, Africa and Middle East in Q3 2013, with global coverage planned for 2014."

...NEWS IN BRIEF RigNet, Inc., a provider of managed remote communications solutions to the oil and gas industry, has been chosen by TAQA Bratani Limited to deliver a managed network solution for two of its offshore production platforms in the United Kingdom (UK) sector of the North Sea, its UK office and to provide backup connectivity to its International Datacenter. SES announced that ITC Global renewed a capacity deal to deliver connectivity to rigs and vessels throughout the Gulf of Mexico region. Under the multi-year, multi-milliondollar agreement, ITC Global is utilizing 42MHz on SES’ AMC-9 satellite to deliver high speed broadband and secure corporate network solutions to crews on ships at sea and remote oil drilling platforms. Inmarsat launched BGAN Link, a broadband IP data service for users who need reliable connectivity over a sustained period from a permanent or semi permanent site. For a fixed monthly fee the new service offers a data connection of up to 0.5Mbps, suitable for standard office-type applications such as email, internet and intranet access, and VPN access to corporate networks. It has been developed for users attracted to cost effective data speed and reliability for use in remote, static operations. Prosafe received a Notice of Award for a contract by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (‘SPEX’) using the Safe Astoria for accommodation support for a project offshore in the Philippines.


Mini VSAT Broadband Service Chosen by World’s Largest Independent Ship Manager A maritime broadband system covering 95 percent of the earth and all the shipping lanes Recognizing the growing demand for enhanced data applications in the commercial shipping industry, V.Ships, which serves a fleet of over 1,000 vessels, has selected the mini-VSAT broadband service from KVH Industries Inc.. for its satellite communications. V.Ships intends to promote KVH’s TracPhone onboard terminals and the global mini-VSAT Broadband service to its customers through SeaCom Electronics Ltd., a fellow member of V.Group, V.Ships’ parent company. Neil Sayce, managing director of SeaCom Electronics, Ltd said: “The small, r e lative ly light we ight

antennas are much easier to place, do not require a crane, and can offer a greater choice in finding a c le ar loc ation to minimize obstr uc tio ns by the s hip’ s supe r struc ture . Freigh t and installation costs are reduced and experience to date has shown the TracPhone V7 system is quicker and easier to install than traditional VSAT equipment.” The mini-VSAT Broadband service uses ArcLight spread spectrum technology developed by KVH’s satellite technology partner ViaSat. The service offers a broad seamless web of multi-megabit service created by 14 Ku-band satellite transponders overlaid coverage fr o m three gl ob al C - ba nd transponders.

“Connecting ships with onshore networks offers exciting new ways to bring ship and shore-based operations closer together, to improve efficiencies, to manage operating expenses, and in general make a better onboard life for officers and crew,” said Stephen MacFarlane, information systems director at V.Ships. “We plan to use the mini-VSAT Broadband network to deliver navigational, safety, and real time weather data, offer internet café and VoIP calling to help further enhance crew morale, enable onshore technical experts to collaborate on repairs with their colleagues at sea, and to connect ships to onshore networks using ‘ShipSure’, our enterprise resource planning software developed by V.Ships.”

Home From Home ~ Internet Enabled Platform Crew Transporters EDT Offshore, an operations and management company for offshore support and dredging services, has taken delivery of a Damen’s Fast Crew Suppliers: the ‘EDT Leda’ and the ´EDT Nefeli´. Both are built with increased crew comfort. Managing director Darios Melas said: “We are a family-company and many of our employees have been with us from the start in 1980. This is reflected in our business. We want our ships to be both high-tech and a ‘home away from home’, so we spent a lot of attention to details. “For Nefeli, we sat down with Damen to adapt the basic design to our needs and discuss the options offered by Damen. In addition to the dynamic positioning and fire fighting systems, we’ve outfitted the vessel with extra accommodation for clients and their representatives and extra luggage compartments. Furthermore, this 50 metre crew boat will be making some long trips to platforms. Therefore, we’ve installed luxury seats with entertainment systems and internet access.”

TV on the High Seas Seafarers on government vessels are enjoying watching news and entertainment programmes from major international television networks without interruption. MTN Worldwide TV is the first fully digital, multi-channel television service for the maritime industry delivering programming from seven major U.S. and international television networks including BBC World News, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, Sky News, Sky Sports News and E! Entertainment Television. The service uses three overlapping satellite beams that integrate with a vessel’s existing C-band Television Receive-Only (TVRO) antenna and onboard video distribution system. By managing the satellite network and the content, MTNGS ensures viewers at sea receive a reliable and uninterrupted service. “MTN Worldwide TV provides our men and women in uniform at sea with access to entertainment, sports and news as well as information to keep them connected to home in a way that is informative and entertaining,” said James Ramsey, President of MTN Government Services. “With many of our men and women deployed globally for long periods of time aiding other countries or protecting our Nation, this service can help improve overall moral and mental health by allowing them to watch their favorite programs.” MTN Worldwide TV currently reaches more than 60,000 cabins aboard 19 cruise lines around the world. To date, the service has broadcast 770 sporting events and more than 2,000 hours of live programming on its events channel, OffComm News ~ Summer 2012 including NFL games, Australian Football League Playoffs, Premier League Soccer, Rugby World Cup, the MLB Playoffs and Formula One Racing.


Maritime Satellite Comms Terminals Forecast to Double Over Next Decade In a report titled: Maritime Telecom Solutions by Satellite, G lob a l M ar ke t A na l y s is & Forecasts, Euroconsult, a research and analysis firm probes into the dynamics determining growth in the maritime satcom sector, along with analysis and forecasts for the different levels of the value chain. The report offers a detailed review of the merchant shipping, fishing, passenger ship, leisure vessel, o ffsho r e and go ver nme nt segments. While MSS terminals are still expected to account for the majority of terminals deployed over the decade, VSAT service providers should gain significant market share in terms of revenue in the coming 10 years. "Onboard bandwidth requirements keep growing, driving the maritime market in a direction quite beneficial to satellite communications," said Wei Li, senior consultant at Euroconsult.

“Fully integrated IP applications providing internet access, audio and video streaming, and the integration of ships into corporate networks generate significant capacity demand at sea."

 The number of terminals used for

global maritime satellite communications grew at around 6% in 2011  Revenues at the satellite operator

level increased by over 7%  The total size of the market

reached c317,000 active terminals in 2011  More than $1.4 billion in revenues

at the service provider level generated  Established MSS services,

especially the emerging VSAT business, contributed to the overall growth of the maritime satellite communications market

The report also suggests that the proliferation of new Ka-band based services, which allow much faster upload and download speed than either traditional VSAT or MSS, could expand the maritime market further. Inmarsat, the largest MSS operator, continues to ready its constellation of three Ka-band satellites planned to be operational by 2014/2015. Euroconsult projects that by 2021, the VSAT market will account for the majority of satellite -based maritime communications revenues. The company predicts that while the maritime satcom market will grow at a healthy rate over the next decade, it wont be as rapid as in recent years, mainly due to decreasing airtime unit and equipment prices with the overall improvement of technology. Euroconsult is an international research and analysis firm specializing in the satellite and space sectors.

All Time Low For Live Programme Streaming Apparently, seven seconds is an acceptable delay for such broadcasts. But over the top (OTT) internet streaming could reduce this to just five seconds. Vision247 claims that it has set a new industry low HLS (or HTTP live streaming) record in terms of squashing delay time for streaming broadcast content to any device over the internet. The issue of latency in broadcast, most recognisable as the time delay when a news reporter is speaking live from the other side of the world, is a particular challenge for the latest generation of content distribution networks. As channel operators move to online video platforms, for content distribution, the demand is there to compare and match the sync achieved with satellite or terrestrial transmission with the over the top internet stream onto any device. This is a particular issue for mobile devices which can potentially access a stream from anywhere on the planet.

While better streaming of live programmes and news broadcasts could be of interest to the crews, as well as the management, on board remotely based oil platforms , the fact that it reduces delays on a mobile device will be of little comfort as most rigs do not permit the use of mobile phones onboard. OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


Diary Dates

Where Technology & Energy Connect

2-3 May 2012

19-22 Sept 2012

TMT Finance Middle East 2012, Mina A’ Salam Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai middleeast/

MTB Workboats Marriott Courtyard, Dubai

Join the leading regional gathering for financial and strategic decision makers in the telecom, media, finance and law sectors. The conference uniquely brings together leadership from telecom and media companies, investment bankers, lawyers, financiers and professional advisers to debate investment strategy, mergers and acquisitions and financing. Key session topics include: Global Telecom Leadership - Leading the next wave of international investment; Multimedia business models and the future of telecoms; New strategies for mergers and acquisitions; How and where to access finance; infrastructure sharing, sales and outsourcing; Accelerating Broadband Strategies; and regional policy leaders, regulation and CFO round tables. Gain insight from over 50 executive speakers, 10 critical panel discussions and eight hours of targeted networking time.

7 June 2012 TMT Finance & Investment Africa 2012, London The 3rd annual TMT Finance & Inve stmen t Afr ica Conference will bring the leading telecom executives, financiers and advisers to London again at an exceptional time for Africa’s communications industry. This year’s conference will include sessions on Telecom Leadership Strategies, Financing Growth, Regulation and Stimulating Investment, Mergers and Acquisitions, Infrastructure Ownership and Towers, and Investing in New Technology including Wimax, LTE, 4G, High Speed Broadband and Mobile Money. Join the leading CEOs, CFOs, investment bankers, thought leaders and specialist advisers at this influential high level strategy event.

MTB is a highly focused programme of one to one appointments between senior managers/directors, technical purchasing managers, general managers, operations managers and other individuals responsible for purchasing within workboat companies together with supplier companies from all areas of the industry. Workboat owners and operators including supply boats (OSV/PSV), dredgers, tugs, AHTS, survey vessels, fishing vessels, pontoons, cranes, floating cranes, barges, jack up rigs, ROV’s, river / coastal / short sea barges etc.

8-11 Oct 2012 Gastech Conference & Exhibition 2012 ExCeL London Tel: +44 (0) 203 615 2842 Celebrating its 26th edition in London, Gastech this year has the backing of Host Sponsor BG Group, as well as Associate Sponsors Bechtel, CB&I, ConocoPhillips, Nigeria LNG Limited, RasGas and Yemen LNG Company. The event brings together commercial and technical industry professionals for unrivalled networking, new business opportunities, the exchange of ideas and to showcase the latest innovations, technologies and developments across the gas value chain. Gastech is the premier industry event in the global gas calendar, attracting more than 10, 000 international delegates.

24-27 Oct 2012 MTB Oil and Gas Americas USA Tel: +44(0)1276 682 898 The MTB Oil & Gas forum is heading back to Dallas, Texas but this time it will be dedicated to the Americas.

Events for quality global networking & real live innovation OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


For telecoms, oil and gas companies, offshore installation managers, communications specialists and IT departments, OffComm News is the only magazine to provide such essential quarterly insight and reference material for the remote communications industry ~ globally.

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Connecting operational critical missions and the people based in these harsh environments. OffComm News is a trade focussed magazine covering a dv a nc em en t s i n communications for remote energy sites worldwide.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


Trig Tracking

 Rechargeable unit has a long battery life

Satellite responder provides emergency tracking of oil and gas personnel

 Weighs less than 250g

A pocket-sized tracker responder, that uses GPS technology and the Iridium satellite network, can provide a lifeline in the extreme environments experienced in the oil and gas industry. Developed by Trident Sensors, TRIG can continuously track the precise location of isolated workers anywhere in the world, including oceans, deserts and the polar regions. An alert function allows the user to assistance at the touch of a button in the emergency. The user has the reassurance that a controller has acknowledged the TRIG's LED display changes to blue.

signal for event of an of knowing alert when

It can be mounted on vehicles, lifeboats and aircraft and can be tracked live using mapping software such as Google Maps or other GIS tracking methods. In routine use, the rugged unit can be used to send and receive data and text messages, enabling two-way communication from any location on Earth, no matter how remote or inhospitable. The data can be sent to email addresses, mobile phones, websites or other remote stations.

 No larger than a smartphone  Dustproof  Waterproof to IP68

The Bluetooth-enabled TRIG can link wirelessly to a smartphone, laptop or other Bluetooth device, making it simple to send and receive emails and SMS messages. The linked device can also act as a display and carry out data processing functions if required. Trident Sensors trackers make use of the Iridium constellation of 66 satellites to provide two-way communication from anywhere in the world, including the polar regions. This is possible because the Iridium satellites are in polar orbits, unlike some other systems which do not pass over higher latitudes or are in geostationary orbit. TRIG uses GPS technology and the Iridium satellite network to track and communicate with users anywhere in the world. The deep-sea version of TRIG can be used for surface tracking and control of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and can withstand pressures up to 1380 bar (20 000 psi). The system can also transmit mission data and can be used to reprogram the vehicle for the next mission.

Boom Proof Guardian Telecom’s Range of Emergency Connectivity Guardian Telecom emergency call box phones and call stations add to Telcom & Data Inc communication products. Spl i t in to e ig ht c at egor ie s comprising: Explosion Proof Phones, ATEX Zone 1 Phones, Hazardous Area Class One Phones, Outdoor Industrial Phones, Industrial Phones, Emergency Call Box Phones, Inmate Phones, and Public Safety Phones, the ATEX* IEC certified phones are manufactured according to mission critical application standards and appeal to industries including: refineries, aerospace sites, mines, drilling rigs and offshore platforms.

*ATEX is the European standard for Atmospheric Explosion proof devices. Along with being ATEX certified many of their hazardous area products are also NEC, CEC and IEC certified products .

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

Explosion Proof Phone

Emergency Call Box


Company Profile Realigning Satellites to Connect the Other Three Billion IT and network groups in the oil and gas sector, seeking to implement bandwidth-heavy applications or enhance interaction with super-remote locations, may find O3b Network’s alternative approach in bringing those objectives, quite literally, closer to earth... by 28,000km Greg Wyler, founder of O3b Networks, bought the telephone company of Rwanda, a small landlocked country in Africa. He built new cell towers, installed new fibre and upgraded the service for the people. However, when it came to connect to the internet, Greg found that there were no fibre connections to other countries or for the internet. The only way to do it was via geosynchronous (GEO) satellite. The GEO satellite option was astronomically expensive at $3,000 per MHZ payable in each direction. In addition, operating approximately 36,000km away from the Earth, GEO satellites often incur a 500milisecond round trip time. For the potential users this would have resulted in poor quality of service, poor throughput and, ultimately, a rather poor user experience ~ and inspired Greg to solve the problem.

The company says that the proximity of the satellites and its use of Ka band will bring strong performance. To date, O3b’s focus has been on customers and applications that require high bandwidth and low latency in order to work well. Focussing on real time video conferencing, internet browsing, internet access, voice and remote cell power backhaul, O3b’s main applications are going to be in high speed internet services for the developing world; as well as providing infrastructure for cellular mobile networks for 2G, 3G and even 4G deployment. O3b in the Offshore & Maritime Market

He came up the idea of keeping the satellites closer to the Earth. To simplify the problem even further he decided to focus on the developing regions which aren’t typically serviced by fibre today, such as: Africa, Latin America, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. He was on a mission to lower latency at an affordable cost. O3b Networks was founded in 2007. The name stands for the other three billion, referring to the population of the world where broadband internet is not available. By the first half of 2013 O3b plans to launch a constellation of eight satellites into orbit to provide low latency internet services to billions of users in remote areas of the world. This schedule is ahead of Inmarsat’s aspirations to launch constellation of three Ka band satellites planned to be operational by 2014/2015. O3b’s latency is about one fifth of geosynchronous satellites. The company also advantages Ka band to provide more bandwidth. Primarily, the company will serve mobile operators and internet service providers with voice and data routes. The network will consist of eight Ka -based satellites orbiting at an altitude of 8,000 km, which is about four times closer than regular geostationary satellites. As a result, round-trip data transmission times will be reduced to approximately 100 milliseconds, virtually eliminating the delay that plagues voice and data communications via GEO. To demonstrate the difference, users would be able to download a web page four times faster.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

O3b has been selling internet trunking for some time and has customers in all regions of the world. With a global reach of +-45° it can serve oil and gas operations in locations including: Brazil, Angola, GoM the Arabian Peninsula, South East Asia and Indonesia. As the company adds more satellites it will be able to service areas further north. “We’re focussed on the ability to deliver [to offshore platforms] new applications that they didn’t think were possible – such as video, video monitoring, real time control, even for the mining sector, where latency matters,” says Steven Blumenthal, senior vice president for product development at O3b Networks. He explained that survey vessels exploring and recording subsea data need to get the information back to shore for processing. Presently, this data is stored on tapes or discs of data which are then flown back to shore via helicopter for analysis. This adds considerable transportation expense and costly delays for the operators. With O3b, up to a terabyte of data can be transmitted in real time; something that several conversations have revealed would be a nice-to-have but not that plausible. Cont.../


With a satellite over each of seven global regions at any one time, steer can be determined by the customers and swiftly implemented

We believe in a world where affordable, high speed connectivity is always within reach and, with our partners, we can deliver on this vision.” Steve Collar, chief executive officer at O3b Networks.”

support both standard GEO and O3b MEO operation, customized for cellular backhaul and IP trunking applications. Gilat will also offer services such as integration with other sub-system providers and terminal installation.


The Technology In 2010, O3b signed a contract with ViaSat Inc. for the production and installation of Ka-band infrastructure at a value of about $47 million. Two launches, of four satellites each, are scheduled for the beginning of 2013 from a location in French Guyana. The eight satellites are currently being built by Thales in France and O3b expects to have them in full service by Q2 of 2013. The first gateways are being installed right now in Nemea, Greece. ViaSat will supply gateway teleports and high speed IP trunking terminals, including full-motion tracking antenna systems for the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites, high speed modems, monitor and control equipment, system development and installation. Teleport installation is scheduled to be completed early this year and each will include three ViaSat 7.3meter antennas. The O3b IP trunking terminal is designed for internet backhaul by telecom carriers, operating at rates from 50 Mbps to 1 Gbps. ViaSat will develop a new 4.5meter MEO antenna and a very high speed DVB-S2 modem. In partnership with O3b, General Dynamics’ SATCOM Technologies will manufacture simple, affordable and reliable 1.8m & 2.4m antennas for use with a series of standard transmitter packages; Comtech EF Data Corporation will offer a line of O3bready modems and hub systems that include compression and network optimization functionality developed specifically for mobile backhaul and trunking applications. Customers will be able to repurpose existing Comtech EF Data hardware for use with the O3b system. Gilat Satellite Networks will provide high capability VSAT hubs and modems to

Quick Insight How do the on-board antennas work? O3b Networks' satellites are equipped with steerable antennas, which, like those used on imaging satellites, have the ability to remain locked onto a fixed location on Earth as the satellite passes overhead.

What types of antenna will be used by O3b Networks? O3b's system employs parabolic antennas, which can handle large chunks of data. This helps O3b to deliver an ultra-low-latency trunking solution.

Why does O3b Networks use an equatorial orbit? An equatorial orbit enables O3b to maintain permanent coverage of the earth using a relatively low number of satellites. Indeed, at a distance of 8,063km, just six satellites are sufficient to achieve constant coverage.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

In an effort to make migration an accessible choice for decision makers, O3b is cost-benchmarking to compete with inclined orbit solutions and much lower than the standard GEO capacity. An equipment upgrade would be required yet the end result would be much increased bandwidth. “Our goal is to come in with a value proposition that makes it very easy for customers to switch to O3B,” Steven told us.

Ku vs Ka It seems that one of the major hurdles lies in emerging confusion regarding the understanding of Ka band and the operation of Ku band. The technology is quite new and, within the oil and gas sector, there is not as much familiarity with it. As with any development, the necessary equipment is becoming more plentiful, available and therefore more accessible, all of which contribute to uptake. O3b says that as it spends time with customers and potential partners the understanding begins to emerge, along with the benefits and opportunities of the high bandwidth afforded with Ka band ~ which has several benefits over the traditional c or Ku band (see page 24). O3b is delivering 260 mhz in each direction, the equivalent of a 432mhz transponder, something that it claims isn't available in the other band offerings of today. In addition, all the company’s modems include the latest in terms of modulation and coding technology. One benefit here, is that should interference occur adjustments would maintain the link and keep critical comms going ~ delivering high availability. Cont.../

In what operate?



will O3b


O3b satellites will deliver trunking services on a dedicated Ka band. Benefits of this frequency include very large bandwidth availability, a low utilisation by existing satellite systems and the ability to use smaller antennas. A dedicated Ka band will enable O3b to provide Gigabytes of capacity via its satellite transponders.

What is O3b Networks' coverage zone? O3b Networks was founded to provide affordable and high-quality internet connectivity across emerging markets. The coverage zone between +/- 45 degrees of latitude was defined in order to deliver services to almost all emerging-markets countries, with optimal cost efficiency.


The Story So Far January 2012 O3b Networks expands service capabilities through partnerships with industry leading vendors. November 2011 O3b Networks set to virtually double fleet capacity as financing is secured to build four more satellites. September 2011 Ozonio and O3b Networks commit to providing internet services to many towns and cities in Brazil's remote state of Amazonas. June 2011 O3b signs capacity deal with Sky Fibre Corporation. May 2011 O3b Networks signs deal with Mavoni Technologies, South Africa to provide fast and reliable connectivity to municipalities and educational institutions. February 2011 O3b Networks appoints Steve Collar as CEO .

Security on the O3b system is claimed to be superior to the GEO satellite. Instead of sitting in one place above the earth, like the GEO option, the O3b network is on the move and its antennas are programmed, very securely, to track them. This makes it much harder for, say, pirates on the seas, to locate, target and infiltrate the network. Customers will naturally add their own encryption techniques on top. This may be particularly appealing to the many companies moving towards cloud based resources where demand for low latency and higher bandwidth will only increase. Thankfully, O3b can add capacity into its premier constellation of eight low cost satellites; In fact, two more launches are already planned, each one taking up four more satellites.

November 2010 O3b Networks raises total funding of US$1.2 billion. October 2010 O3b Networks signs deal with Netcom, Nigeria to provide fast and reliable connectivity to ships and offshore platforms. September 2010 Pak Datacom Limited signs exclusive national capacity agreement with O3b Networks to deploy high speed internet to Pakistan.

Due to an almost insatiable demand for apps, O3b will continue to seek to power them with high bandwidth, such as voice and video in real time. Future plans also include providing infrastructure for the mobile companies serving developing regions to deploy their networks deeper into areas that they couldn’t consider before. Future systems will be deployed out at sea for a variety of civilian applications in the oil and gas sector, offshore drilling platforms, production platforms, support vessels, as well as the seismic vessels that are looking for new energy opportunities offshore; as well as the mining sector. Also on the drawing board are services for the defence market; providing high bandwidth to outfits on the move; as well as airborne applications across civilian travel sector.

Roadmap Looking into the future, O3b expects a variety of customers across many markets, to buy into high speed services, especially from the developing world. Its range of additional lower cost terminal equipment will grow and there may even be alternatives for smaller terminals destined for internet cafe’s, schools, clinics, government facilities and even banks in developing regions.

“We’re riding the trend in the world for low latency and high bandwidth” said Steven Blumenthal, senior vice president of product development at O3b Networks. “Every location’s spot beam can be changed within a region. It can, for example, be changed and objects followed ~ by moving platforms for example. That’s a pretty unique capability.”

Investors O3b Networks has financial & operational support from: SES HSBC Liberty Global Development Bank of South Africa Sofina Satya Capital Google Northbridge Venture Partners Allen & Company

O3b Growth Timeline

August 2010 O3b Selects Europe Media Port (EMP) as its first gateway teleport operator for new high capacity data network. June 2010 O3b Networks and Telecom Cook Islands sign long term agreement on bandwidth provision for internet connectivity. March 2010 O3b signs agreement with ViaSat

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


The Rural Broadband Summit Round Up 2012 Taking a deep dive into the challenges and opportunities of the more rural markets around the world, delegates attended the first Rural Broa dba nd S umm it at Broadband MEA in Dubai in March 2012.

Private sector investors will also need to manage the risks associated with rural broadband services.

regulators and vendors all need to embrace the commercial models and new technologies which will enable low cost rural coverage.

John Larkin, managing director at The Kenton Group spoke at the e ve n t. A f te r w ar ds he t old OffComm News: “Rural connectivity represents a significant opportunity for network operators in rural areas in the Middle East and Africa and prov ides telcos wi th sustainable and profitable business prospect.

“Access to broadband brings great benefits to rural areas, improving quality of life through increased access to services and more flexible labour markets. The African and Middle East broadband markets are now speeding up as countries throughout each region r e c ognise the potential of broadband. They are seriously looking for ways to obtain reliable, high speed internet access, particularly as demand for higher internet speeds and increased bandwidths pick up pace.”

“Network sharing has been employed by many operators throughout the globe to reduce the cost of rural coverage. The industry in the region can learn from these models and adapt them to their needs. It isn’t necessary to re-invent the wheel when it comes to delivering rural broadband.”

“Government bodies will need to e nsur e that an ope n and competitive market environment is created and that measures are put in place that enable service providers to offer a profitable and compelling service to rural users.

Charles Murray, senior manager at Analysys Mason also spoke with OffComm News after the event. He said: “Enabling rural broadband connectivity requires a re-think as to how the telecommunications industry is structured. Operators,

Presentations & Insight at the Broadband MEA: Rural Broadband Summit 2012 “Broadband MEA was a fantastic event as it brought key players together to address the critical issues surrounding rural broadband in the MEA region. The event threw a spotlight on the region’s digital deprivation and raised the question of what technology choices are available for rural broadband and tackled how to achieve them.” John Larkin, managing director at The Kenton Group.

“The MEA Broadband conference was an excellent opportunity to meet key people in the region’s telecommunications industry to discuss the topics that will drive the industry through its next phase of development. The quality of the attendees and their engagement was very impressive.” Cont.../

Usman Ali Akbar, senior project manager, Group Synergy, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd, put the country on the list by speaking about the key challenges faced for delivering broadband in rural areas of Pakistan.

John Larkin, director of marketing, The Kenton Group, defined the problem, market potential, challenges and solutions for cost effectively meeting demand in his presentation “Unleash the Potential of Your Copper Network for Rural Broadband.”

Charles Murray, senior manager, Analysys Mason, delivered a talk on making rural network sharing happen, covering the opportunities and commercial models and debated the technology choices for rural broadband.

Jaume Salvat, CEO, Andorra Telecom, presented on why it is imperative to invest in a future proof network, the long term economic impact of investing in universal broadband and strategies to encourage uptake of increasing penetration.

Ntokozo Khumalo, African business producer, ETV, addressed the audience examining the role of local content in tapping into the potential of the rural broadband market; particularly how to make relevant content available to the rural areas of the Middle East and Africa.

Roland Montagne, director, Telecoms Business Unit, IDATE, brought the FTTH rollout in rural areas worldwide picture to the delegates, with case studies of fibre rollout in rural areas; addressing business models as he went.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


“Our high-level speaker line up at The Rural Broadband Summit clearly demonstrated the complexity of delivering broadband to rural areas, with the challenges of making the economics of broadband delivery work for business and achieving ROI being of particular importance in the region.” Gavin Whitechurch, Event Director of Broadband MEA

Jaume Salvat, CEO, Andorra Telecom, expected to find networking and open discussions surrounding increasing broadband awareness and penetration, as well as the evolution of broadband services. Interestingly, he said that the most thought provoking questions raised surrounded the non sustainability of the actual mode l [ope r ator s ne e d to continue investing a lot in order to meet the user’s demands and no return from service and applic a tion pr o vide r s] . T he operators seemed to agree. The responses from the service and application providers highlighted the operators as dumb pipes and billing companies. Use of broadband technologies for social and smart services impressed Jaume the most at the event, as well as hearing about new ecosystems to innovate on broadband services; and the diffe r e nt appr oac he s to monetizing broadband networks.

A slide from Charles Murray’s, Analysys Mason presentation entitled: Making it Happen, highlighted the following points: Learn from other countries..

Don’t try a structure that has failed, it will probably fail again. Create an ‘event’ to trigger

operators into engaging with each other—network sharing, without government support, will increase coverage Do not be afraid of operators

consolidating networks; the savings achieved outweigh reduction in competition If government funding is going

to be made available, the right structure to ensure transparency is critical.

The next event will be held during 8th to 10th April 2013 at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, UAE

Jayhun Mollazade, CEO, Azqtel, Azerbaijan, spoke about the challenges and lessons learnt regarding the Wimax experience of delivering broadband in Azerbaijan; as well as the future of migration to either LTE or WiMax2.

Thecla Mbongue, senior research analyst, Informa Telecoms and Media addressed the delegates about the state of broadband in Africa, covering topics including: Major trends in broadband market in Africa; Trends in rural markets and connectivity bottlenecks.

Labib Matta, senior partner, Next Gen Advisory Group, offered insight regarding the Role of Local Content in Tapping into the Potential in the Rural Broadband Market

Kai-Uwe Wulff, chief evangelist, Plexus Group and former chief strategy officer, Nashua Group, South Africa, presented that Solar Powered Advanced Rural Communications could overcome the basic challenges of electricity and communication to bridge the divide regarding information poverty ~ a widespread social problem throughout developing countries ~ and creating wealth for previously disadvantaged communities in Sub Saharan Africa, through human capital development by maximising access to information and communications technologies.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

Nima PourNejatian, chief technology officer, MobinNet Telecom Co., Iran delivered a case study: How to Enrich Different Customers with Nationwide Broadband Services Through Wimax Pipes, which included segments on providing different broadband services to different segments.


Es se nt ial co q f mm or t uar un he terly ica rem in tio s ns ote ight ind us tr y

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The Impact of Shipboard Satellite Communications Lively debate at a special roundtable session chaired by Roger Adamson, CEO at Stark Moore Macmillan, in Mumbai in April, surrounded the topic of how the latest developments in maritime communications can help attract the next generation of seafarers.

The relentless demand, from the offshore crews, for more internet based services ~ and easier access to them ~ highlighted by a recent OffComm News survey, formed part of a wider debate about the impact of developments in maritime satellite communications at the 5th Manning & Training Conference in Mumbai. Cadets present in the hall in Mumbai reflected the views of the iGeneration of new seafarers, wanting internet access at sea for training purposes and who are increasingly abandoning more traditional email and SMS services in favour of social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. In general SMS is declining in usage the world over. Even the Philippines witnessed a fall in SMS traffic in 2010 despite ultra-low pricing as users moved toward instant messaging platforms such as Whatsapp. However, with limited onboard internet access for crew, SMS traffic remains high with maritime SMS provider, SMSGlobal, reporting 80% of crew using it in preference to email when both were provided free by the ship operator. But for ship operators facing the breadth of crew solutions available on the market today, and the multiplicity of platforms on which they operate it is a significant task to identify what communications approach best meets both

corporate objectives and those of the seafarers they employ. Stark Moore Macmillan, a specialist maritime research and marketing consultancy, shared some of its latest research findings which demonstrate that ship operators continue to struggle to understand the technology and quantify the benefits that broadband bring their business as a whole. This is despite knowing it can help them achieve greater operational efficiencies and also provide a source by which crew welfare and thereby retention rates can be improved.

The communications facilities offered onboard is an increasingly important factor for the crews when selecting which operator to work for.

Concerns were voiced during the conference, by ship operators and regulators about the potential distractions to crew, provided by new technologies, during certain watches. Such concerns were cited as reasons why some ship operators present were reluctant to fit technologies such as distributed GSM and internet access, but this has to be balanced against the significant operational efficiencies gained by increased retention rates, reduced recruitment and training costs, none of which are routinely quantified.

The only magazine so dedicated to Remote Communications Exploration Published Quarterly

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

Non-VSAT equipped companies’ emphasis on crew welfare has reduced by 10 percent Perhaps as a consequence, whilst operational requirements provide a clear driver for the adoption of such systems crew welfare is often a secondary consideration. In fact the SMM research findings show a clear change in attitudes to crew welfare among certain sectors of the industry. Those companies with VSAT solutions installed placed increased emphasis on crew welfare as a reason for fitting this technology ~ as opposed to nonVSAT equipped companies whose emphasis on crew welfare has reduced by 10 percent in the same twelve month period. This latter group, of non-VSAT equipped companies, has also seen its focus on operational efficiency increase almost 3-fold as companies struggle in the current economic climate. Ultimately the message from the conference is that internet access should not be viewed merely as social media and web surfing but as a strategic investment in a platform upon which ship operators can base other services with tangible monetary benefits such as training and content provision delivered live or ondemand, and as a conduit to cross business efficiencies and savings.

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Case Study From $1,000 to $10 When Crowley Maritime Corporation wanted to better manage and maintain the IT systems onboard its fleet of articulated tug barges the company turned to Globecomm Maritime. Crowley owns and operates one of the world’s most advanced ship assist and escort tug fleets, with a reputation in project cargoes, towing for delivery offshore, into ports or to remote locations.

Crowley’s ships rely on advanced shipboard IT systems to support operations and communications tasks. But as the number and complexity of shipboard IT systems have grown, so have the challenges of keeping them running at peak performance.

“Often network issues arise while the vessel is underway and not readily accessible. That would traditionally mean sending IT technicians to physically attend vessels that were experiencing PC issues and required support. Unfortunately, attending a vessel has several disadvantages that make the troubleshooting and repair process less than ideal,” says Matthew Gullickson, Crowley Marine Services. For an IT engineer to attend the ship in person means unbudgeted travel and accommodation costs as well as lost time away from the office. The visit must also be co-ordinated with the ship’s schedule, which may be subject to change. Globecomm se@REMOTE gives Crowley’s IT department access to onboard computer systems without the need for travel or intervention from the crew, saving time and money for owner and operator alike. Through Globecomm’s web-based management tool, SMT enables users to connect to the ship’s network and see a list of available IP-enabled devices. The IT engineer simply clicks on the device to gain access to it and can change configurations, update operating systems, install applications or make repairs; all the sorts of IT maintenance that an engineer would previously do in person.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

se@REMOTE means shore-based IT managers can solve problems without sending an engineer to the ship, and therefore enable ship owners and managers to control their costs more effectively. Any IP-enabled device can be accessed so the engineer can troubleshoot not just the ship’s PCs, but also printers and scanners, amongst other IP devices. We will see this kind of functionality employed more and more widely as shipowners are able to view their ships as remote offices at sea.” “It has removed the barrier that typically stands between ships and IT technicians working shore side. Issues that require immediate attention can be addressed at any time from shore reducing potential downtime and travel expenses,” says Matthew. SeaRemote works over any Inmarsat FleetBroadband or Iridium OpenPort terminal, requiring no additional outlay on hardware or software. While se@REMOTE saves on travel and accommodation costs, it also provides price transparency for the engineer and shipping company, as the SMT screen displays the volume of data sent or received and therefore the cost of the time spent connected to the ship. Key Features Web based secure remote access from any internet connection via Telaurus Ship Management Tool (SMT) Data traffic optimized for satellite connectivity No need for crew or officer intervention or for IT department to attend the ship Remote session cost is displayed to technician in real time


Real-time access to onboard computers and networks from the shore office means that maintenance can happen faster and without the need for travel. Crowley estimates that travel costs for an engineer attending a vessel could be around $1,000 on average. By contrast, a se@REMOTE session can usually be carried out in a relatively short time, with an average spend of around $10.

Three Million Added Broadband From Top Cable & Telephone Companies Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the eighteen largest cable and telephone providers in the US (which represents about 93 percent of the market) acquired three million net additional high speed internet subscribers in 2011. Annual net broadband additions in 2011 were 88 percent of the total in 2010. “At the end of 2011, the top broadband providers in the US cumulatively had over 78.6 million subscribers, an increase of nearly 25 million over the past five years.” The top broadband providers now account for 78.6 million subscribers ~ with cable companies having over 44.3 million broadband subscribers, and telephone companies having over 34.3 million subscribers. “Despite a high level of broadband penetration in the US, the top broadband providers added 88 percent as many subscribers in 2011 as in 2010,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG.

Other key findings  The top cable companies netted 75% of the broadband additions in 2011  The top cable companies added 2.3 million broadband subscribers in 2011 – 98% of the total net additions for the top cable companies in 2010  The top telephone providers added 750,000 broadband subs in 2011 – 68% of the total net additions for the top telephone companies in 2010  In the fourth quarter of 2011, cable and telephone providers added 765,000 broadband subscribers – with cable companies accounting for 82% of the broadband additions in the quarter

An Increasingly Fragmented Market BroadGroup ( has launched a range of market research services, B2B Information Technology Market Research, to meet increasing demand for insight into niche global markets. The new services will include competitor analysis, B2B panels, customers and products, and market evaluation and entry. BroadGroup believes that B2B markets in the IT sector are complex and increasingly fragmented. To achieve a balanced insight to launching a new product, understanding customer requirements or measuring demand, robust market research provides analysis and interpretation to guide decisions. More granular and qualitative B2B research can provide even greater understanding of the business decisions customers are likely to take and predictive models constructed by user type, geography and other segmentations.

A Final Frontier Seeking Expert Sector Opinion An online discussion, hosted by OffComm News, will explore one of the industry’s most opportunistic sectors:

Offshore Oil Platforms To find out more and request a speaker position get in touch with our marketing department straight away by email: Or by telephone: 0044 203 239 1777

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OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


Improved Decisions: Mining Comms It is a business irony that an industry with a great need for data-hungry applications and real time communications has to operate in the world's most remote and challenging environments. Yet, this is precisely the situation where the mining industry finds itself. By Bernie B ran field , G enera l Ma nager, Data sa t Communications

The extreme costs associated with exploration, production and operation means that network downtime can quickly affect profitability. One industry estimate suggested that the oil and gas industries alone lose $15 billion each year through poor decision making from lack of access to relevant information where and when it is needed. There are two key elements to the challenge of effective information provision. First, the company has to be able to establish network communications quickly and reliably. Secondly, it needs the near-real time sharing of important data between the mine site, in-country offices and corporate headquarters. Timely Communications Anywhere Mine sites are continually being explored, constructed, operated and retired. In this situation, satellite communications become a very attractive option. Cost is one benefit but speed and flexibility of implementation are equally important. The maturity of satellite and, as importantly, the ruggedisation of its far-end VSAT equipment, means that the network can be modelled and equipment can be tested off-site. In this way, the installation of the remote network can be accomplished in as little as a few hours. In fact, the entire process from initial planning to full operation is measured in weeks rather than months. This speed is matched by flexibility. The far-end equipment can be dismantled and reassembled as operational needs dictate. A VSAT installation is highly portable allowing for repositioning that matches the highly fluid nature of the early stages of the mining process. Data Where It's Needed The key to business effectiveness becomes the remote network's ability to deliver efficient two-way communications when and where it is needed. In the past, the large file size of geological scans has seen companies place the scan on a disk and mailed to

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

headquarters for expert analysis. Meanwhile, the onsite team waits for the results. Today, there are a whole range of sophisticated, hugely data demanding applications in daily use by geologists, geophysicists and drilling engineers amongst others. These applications collect massive amounts of data in a variety of different formats which have to be distributed and shared quickly and securely. For the vast majority of locations where mining is taking place, satellite communications is the only reliable and costeffective means to achieve this level of data throughput and two-way communication. The result is that decision making can be reduced from days and months to hours or minutes. Designed For Services In addition to data, the business services required must be part of the network design. If basic internet connectivity is sufficient then solutions to meet these requirements can be implemented. When business applications such as SAP are important, a different design may be required. Couple this with staff welfare services and voice communications and a very specific design emerges. By establishing two- way communications between sites and corporate offices, today's remote satellite communications network is delivering the real-time decision-making necessary for profitability in an industry where time is money.

About the Author Bernie Branfield has designed and managed the build and operation of both international and domestic VSAT networks. He joined Da ta sa t Communications as technical manager in 2003 before becoming general manager in 2006.


The Five Principles of Financial Planning & Network Design Leaders at oil & gas companies that want to be effective need to follow five fundamental principles of financial planning and network design, says Kevin Franciotti, VP Operations, North America for ITC Global. Ultimately, these five principles help to make a sound investment in the success of a business. Both people and operations will be better protected; you’ll be able to seamlessly expand to new regions and grow the business strategically. And you can ensure that your operations remain best in class in a highly competitive industry.

The First Principle Customized, Fully Engineered Network

The Second Principle Bandwidth Utilization Plan

Just as a financial plan should be tailored to meet unique personal or business goals, a network design plan should meet the unique applications and operational requirements of each work site.

In finance, your goal is to diversify your investment portfolio without risking your financial security. In network design, the goal is similar: spreading bandwidth efficiently while preserving priority traffic.

Every site requires access to the corporate network and basic telephony service. Certain sites may also require dedicated bandwidth for control and automation of SCADA, as well as for “second users” such as contractors, and internet access for crew welfare purposes. As you run corporate applications across the network, each site will have a distinct bandwidth profile and usage pattern and therefore must have unique quality of service properties.

Bandwidth is an expensive resource and oil & gas companies try to use it as sparingly as possible while protecting the priority of their critical applications. Purchasing too much bandwidth can be costly. Yet, if companies do not secure enough capacity, it can result in network congestion and lead to application degradation, or even failure.

A properly designed and engineered network will address most unique issues associated with VSAT technology. Your customized design should include four elements: Per-site technical plan to deliver required service levels and availability Capacity plan to allocate bandwidth per traffic volume requirements for the overall network WAN optimization plan to address dynamic bandwidth needs of each application IP address and routing plan to govern the flow of different traffic types and establish a failover plan

Since multiple applications dynamically share the same bandwidth pool, you need rules in place to govern prioritization. Examine your workflow and usage patterns to effectively create a prioritization plan across the entire network. Design your network to account for overall activity and then layer bandwidth based on user and application profiles with finely tuned priority settings to manage real-time allocation. By establishing prioritization levels, you can effectively segment your capacity investment at the right levels to avoid unnecessary cost without jeopardizing the performance of key applications when it matters most. Cont.../

Oil and gas companies need to design a reliable network that can handle dynamic applications while delivering a consistent, high-quality user experience to all of their offshore and onshore locations. Failing to plan and invest adequately in a high-performance communications strategy can put people, business and overall reputations at risk. This is critically important today, especially as oil& gas companies look to meet stricter health, safety and environment regulations.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


The Third Principle Network Integration An important principle of finance is to maintain an integrated investment portfolio that works toward a common investment goal. In network design, you also want integration. Specifically, unified communications over an integrated network. The growth of IP communications is enabling more technologies to run simultaneously on the same network. The results include greater simplicity, consistency and accountability, as well as significant cost savings. Designing the right network involves dedicated planning, though, to ensure all these technologies can work together seamlessly. When it comes to satellite networks, you need to consider an IP-based network. This creates an IP backbone that can also support SCADA and DCS serial connections, deliver IP-based voice and video traffic, and trunk hand-held radio traffic. An integrated network is best managed by a single service provider. It establishes a single point of contact for a broad range of communications needs. And it better ensures a seamless performance across an entire network.

The Fourth Principle Accountability Financial success requires accountability – the ability to keep a vigilant eye on the markets to mitigate risk and capitalize on new opportunities. Network success also requires accountability, namely a team to monitor, manage, optimize, and scale a network. Once a communications network is implemented, it must be continually managed to ensure maximum availability and reliability. The goal is total control to ensure operations are never jeopardized. At remote sites, this means ensuring constant access to the network through real-time monitoring, remote trouble shooting and local support. It also requires an out-of-band backup network in place that can handle critical operations should an outage threaten service availability. At headquarters, visibility and access are just as critical. An IT director is accountable for how the network supports business requirements and measures up to Service Level Agreements. Oil & gas companies must have access to a portal that tracks performance across every location on the network and includes both real-time metrics and historical data analysis. Across the entire network, you need regular IT advisory, planning and support. Your operations are dynamic and growing globally so you need a partner that can readily adapt the network as requirements change. A network should have the flexibility to allow for changes in bandwidth and services at a particular site, and be able to grow to accommodate additional sites without significant redesign.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

What to look for in a service provider When selecting a partner to help design, build and manage a strategic communications plan for your business, it’s important they have the necessary experience and global resources to meet your unique requirements and enable business growth. They must be able to provide: Customized approach to ensure core

operations and future requirements drive decisions Managed service that includes all hardware,

network services, engineering and support Integrated networking technologies and

services in a complete service offering Comprehensive reporting on Key

Performance Indicators, including service and capacity utilization, availability, latency, and response times Business continuity solution, including

alternate teleport locations and out-of-band network IT advisory to ensure service continually adapts to changing operational requirements Best of breed technologies which are

continually reviewed to optimize network performance Seamless global bandwidth coverage that can

scale with your operations

The Fifth Principle Global Scale A smart financial strategy should adjust as needs change and new priorities arise. Likewise, smart network design should be able to easily scale with opportunities and expand geographically. As oil & gas exploration operations move into new areas, companies need a unified global network that can scale with their business. It quickly becomes costly and complex to contract with multiple service providers across multiple geographies while operating disparate networks. You should incorporate features into your network to enable a seamless service experience as your operations move globally. First, make sure you have a network of integrated satellite beams. Second, make sure you have a single network interface where your assets can maintain a single, global IP address and you can track them from a common system. These features will allow you to scale the network quickly, easily and with consistency, and maintain predictability wherever your operations take you.


Crew Communications ~ With Privacy to Improve Morale SeaMore allows seafarers to use their private smartphones and tablets, such as iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android, to connect and communicate substantially in the same way as they use onshore communications networks. Ship owners and managers will be able to optimize their business operations with direct 24/7 access via their tablets. Captains and superintendents can access a network of business-critical applications: real-time tracking and maintenance reporting with Telemar World Service app; GPS locator; weather forecasts; optimized fleet surveillance monitored by fleet, ship or users; remote IT control; secure onboard network; “store & share” business content and templates via the onboard network; Lloyd’s list and other customizable apps. As well as business communications, SeaMore will enrich the seafarer’s life on board through affordable and easy to use crew communications in privacy.

via the onboard electronic library. Shipping companies can set usage policies and seafarers benefit from personal cost monitoring and alerts. “SeaMore is a potential game-changer in the maritime industry: mobility combined with privacy are becoming a reality for all maritime end-users. Vizada’s enhanced solution development capabilities benefit from our close understanding of end-users’ needs to roll-out a unique product with high value in terms of simplicity, convenience and applications” states Gennaro Faella, Telemar corporate business development and operations coordination director. “Owners and managers will exploit the bandwidth to save time and money handling operations anywhere and anytime. Masters and seafarers can access their favourite newspaper every morning, view family pictures in the privacy of their cabin, and chat with loved ones.”

SeaMore comprises access to onboard communications in privacy similar to GSM but without the roaming costs, several maritime application suites, Vizada XChange and an interactive website – all easily accessed by private smartphone and tablets.

The crew morale will benefit from cost-effective voice calls, optimized emailing, SMS and instant messaging thanks to the GSM–like connectivity at sea. Seafarers can use personal applications and devices in privacy, potentially anywhere on board. They can enjoy web browsing with compression and caching for lower costs, free onboard news and sports content as well as videos, music, e-books or other media content shared

The only magazine so dedicated to Remote Communications Exploration Published Quarterly

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

Currently in the beta-testing phase, SeaMore will be installed on a select number of ships before its full commercial launch by July 2012. It will be powered by Vizada XChange, an integrated maritime platform, providing connectivity to all satellite networks.

FREE digital edition Find it online at Autumn 2012 Edition Out July / August

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Open Water ~ Affordable GSM Communications Offshore Global Satellite USA has unleashed GSM Oceanwide, a simple and affordable GSM communications service to the offshore market. GSM Oceanwide is built on the world’s most widely deployed cellular technology and combined with the power of FleetBroadband, GSM Oceanwide works at sea just like traditional phone services work on land. With GSM Oceanwide, officers and crew members can make calls onboard in approved areas, including crew quarters. “This is an excellent service to allow crew members to stay in touch with their friends and family while offshore. Crew members can now make and receive calls and receive SMS messages using their regular cell phones with no interference with other vital communications used for the maritime officers,” said Martin Fierstone, President of Global Satellite USA.

Connecting to the vessel’s GSM network is via a dedicated prepaid SIM card into any GSM phone. Crew members can top up using virtual scratch cards. GSM Oceanwide is designed for use only in open waters. The equipment automatically turns off as the vessel nears land, preventing interference with other mobile networks. Heading out to sea, the system will automatically turn on again.

To set up GSM Oceanwide, Global Satellite USA installs a picocell that communicates with the GSM handsets using the GSM-1800 frequency band and a remote gateway. The remote gateway can be connected to a FleetBroadband 250 or 500 terminal, which can also be used for commercial traffic. The GSM Service uses an 8K streaming channel for voice calls to ensure high quality calls, and does not interfere with any commercial traffic. All hardware is proven and pre-tested. The system can be installed in as little as 8 hours, not including cabling.

Ka Band vs Ku Band Jonathan NG, a microwave and SATCOM specialist, proffered the following points for us: “Seismic vessels, jack ups, semi submersibles, FPSO* that I have come across use lower frequency C-Band for exploration links to sponsors. It delivers more availability for operating under diverse marine and weather conditions. Ku band installations are typically for crew welfare on board, for example, for VoIP or internet surfing.“ Ka band uses small parabolic antennas of 60cm or smaller. Ku band uses larger antennas for downlinks. Ku terminals are more modular, and as such, better suited to interchanging 3rd party parts in the transmit-andreceive section of the terminal. Ka band is typically a single system unit with transmit-and-receive units inclusive; the antenna are interconnected for reduced signal loss. Ku band hardware, used in satellite communication today, is cheaper than Ka band because it’s more difficult to fabricate higher frequencies. As such, there is a higher investment required for research, development and testing. *A floating production, storage and offloading unit is a floating vessel used by the offshore industry.

OffComm News ~ Summer 2012

Benefits for officers and crew Affordable way to stay in touch via outgoing and incoming calls and SMS messages Pre-paid service provides complete control over communication costs Offers the privacy of making calls in personal quarters. Flexibility of calling and texting from any approved area onboard Uses existing GSM handsets Dedicated GSM SIM with local Philippine number Validity top ups: 180 days Allows 3 simultaneous GSM voice calls Benefits for ship owners and managers Requires no capital investment Provides full separation of business and GSM communication costs Offers crew the latest GSM and FleetBroadband technology Enhances crew quality of life Improves productivity through instant access to people and information Enables ship’s captain to maintain local control of network operation Provides the security of reliable hardware and maintenance Operates on T&T FleetBroadband 250 or 500 and JRC FleetBroadband 250 terminals

Which is right for your communications requirements? However, the pricing of internet serving applications will be cheaper with Ka band due to the larger bandwidth transponder resources available, which may pack in more users. Ku band is more commonly used in today’s real time circuit switching television and telecommunication applications; while Ka band is beginning to gain ground on future broadband internet connectivity by utilizing packet switching technology. Both Ku and Ka band signal are greatly attenuated by rainfalls and are therefore not suitable in regions with heavy rainfall (such as equator tropics) for real time critical application ~ where availability requirements can typically be as high as 99%. The utilization of a Ka band frequency is most suitable in regions like the Arctic or a desert environment, both of which are dry for a long period of the year. Ka is also more immune from RF interference than the low Ku band in satellite communications. Ka Band

Ku Band

26.5–40 GHz range Electrical Wavelength 0.0113- 0.0075 meters

11.7-14.5GHz range Electrical Wavelength 0.0256-0.0207 meters


OffComm News ~ Summer 2012


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Infotainment Systems Infrastructure Wireless Connectivity Supply & Support Vessels Accommodation Barges OffComm News ~ Summer 2012 26 The ONLY magazine so dedicated to remote communications exploration

Summer 2012  

The Summer edition of OffComm News - packed with information relating to remote communciations exploration

Summer 2012  

The Summer edition of OffComm News - packed with information relating to remote communciations exploration