Ku-Band satellites operate in the 12-14 GHz band and provide spot beam, or regional coverage to certain areas on the earth. They require smaller, 1 meter, VSAT antennas and provide more economical coverage to vessels that operate in a particular region for some period of time. When the vessel relocates, it will need to change to a different satellite and a different satellite beam.
Only high traffic areas are covered with Ku-Band, with the first Transatlantic beam becoming available in 2009.
Vessels that require more seamless coverage in less trafficked areas would need C-Band service.
Being a relatively low frequency, L-band is easier to process, requiring less sophisticated and less expensive RF equipment, and due to a wider beam width, the pointing accuracy of the antenna does not have to be as accurate as the higher bands.
Only a small portion (1.3-1.7GHz) of L-Band is allocated to satellite communications on Inmarsat. Inmarsat uses L-band for their Fleet Broadband, Inmarsat-B and C.
The older Inmarsat A and B antennas were typically 1 meter in diameter, but, with the launch of more powerful satellites and the use of steerable spot beams, the new Fleet broadband antennas are down to less than 30cm (12 inches).
L-Band is also used for low earth orbit satellites, military satellites, and terrestrial wireless connections like GSM mobile phones. It is also used as an intermediate frequency for satellite TV where the Ku or Ka band signals are down-converted to L-Band at the antenna LNB, to make it easier to transport from the antenna to the below deck, or indoor equipment.
Since there is not much bandwidth available in L-band, it is a costly commodity.
Satellite C-band usually transmits around 6 GHz and receives around 4 GHz. It uses large (2.4- 3.7 meter) antennas. These are the large white domes that you see on top of the cruise ships and commercial vessels.
C-band is typically used by large ships that traverse the oceans on a regular basis and require uninterrupted, dedicated, always on connectivity as they move from region to region. The shipping lines usually lease segment of satellite bandwidth that is provided to the ships on a full time basis, providing connections to the Internet, the public telephone networks, and data back-hauls to their head office.
C-band is also used for terrestrial microwave links, which can present a problem when vessels come into port and interfere with critical terrestrial links. This has resulted in serious restrictions within 300Km of the coast, requiring terminals to be turned off when coming close to land.
Ku-Band (pronounced Kay-You) refers to the lower portion of the K-Band. The "u" comes from a German term referring to "under" whereas the "a" in Ka- Band refers to "above" or the top part of K-Band. The middle portion of K-Band is a bit of a mystery. Other than a mention of K-Band radar there are few references on the Internet to it's use.
Ku-Band is most commonly used for satellite TV and is used for most VSAT systems on yachts and ships today. There is much more bandwidth available in Ku -Band and it is therefore less expensive that C or L-band.
The main disadvantage of Ku-Band is rain fade. The wavelength of rain drops coincides with the wavelength of Ku-Band causing the signal to be attenuated during rain showers. This can be overcome by transmitting extra power but this of course comes with a cost as well.
The pointing accuracy of the antennas need to be much tighter than L-Band Inmarsat terminals, due to narrower beam widths, and consequently the terminals need to be more precise and more expensive.
Ku band coverage is generally by regional spot beams, covering major land areas with TV reception. VSAT Vessels moving from region to region need to change satellite beams, sometimes with no coverage in between beams. Lately this process has been improved with a transatlantic beam on Telstar 11n, and the satellite terminals and modems being programmed to automatically switch beams.
VSAT Antenna sizes typically range from the standard 1 meter, like the SeaTel 4009, to 1.5 meters for operation in fringe areas and, more recently, as low as 60cm for spread spectrum operation.
Ka-Band (pronounced Kay-A) is an extremely high frequency requiring great pointing accuracy and sophisticated RF equipment. Like Ku-band it is susceptible to rain fade. It is commonly used for high definition satellite TV. It is also used today for terrestrial VSAT services from companies like Hughes Networks.
Ka-Band bandwidth is plentiful and once implemented should be quite inexpensive compared to Ku-Band .
In 2010 there is news that Inmarsat will be providing a global Ka-Band VSAT service beginning in 2014. As more Ka-Band bandwidth becomes available, there will be several other satellite providers offering Ka-Band VSAT on a more regional basis.
The advantage of the Inmarsat solution is that it will be global, seamless, much smaller antennas, and should be much cheaper that Ku-Band services today. If priced correctly, this could revolutionize the marine VSAT industry. It will be difficult for smaller companies to compete with the expected $1.4M investment that Inmarsat is making in it's I5 satellites.
Atlantic Ocean Region. This beam is uplinked from teleports on the US side only, with access to the Americas beam. The data is crosslinked on the satellite between the Atlantic and Americas beam. This beam is not accessible from teleports on the European beam
KVH is the clear leader in providing a 2 axis, 60cm VSAT Tracphone V7 service bundled with several levels of prepaid and postpaid airtime at rates suitable for a 20-30 meter luxury yacht or commercial vessel. They are rapidly expanding their coverage areas to include the most traveled regions of the world.
The KVH mini VSAT service is provided in partnership with Viasat, utilizing their Viasat Yonder network for aircraft. The system uses 12 satellite transponders and 9 teleports to provide almost global coverage.
Although only a 2 axis stabilised antenna, the polarization axis also dynamically follows the movement of the vessel, making it effectively a 3 axis system.
February 14, 2011: EchoStar Corporation and Hughes Communications have announced that EchoStar will acquire Hughes and its subsidiaries, including Hughes Network Systems, in a deal valued at approximately $2 billion.
Hughes Maritime Broadband Service provides broadband communications, voice and fax to vessels at sea using the HX200 modem to antennas as small as 60cm.
IsatM2M is a two-way burst messaging service that enables a wide range of machine-to-machine applications for tracking and monitoring remote fixed or mobile assets on a global basis - whether on land, at sea or in the air.
This next-generation satellite telematics service is based on Inmarsat's existing D+ service, offering faster data forwarding rates, quicker responses to polling requests and shorter time to first transmission.
Since the way that most of us use bandwidth is sporadic (or bursty) , it is far more economical and practical for users to share a satellite connection with other users. If the satellite provider sizes the pipe and number of users appropriately, most often one is unaware that circuit is being shared by many users. Most modern technologies provide extremely secure separation between users making it almost impossible for data or voice traffic to be compromised.
Single Carrier Per Channel circuits provide a dedicated channel between ship and shore where the full bandwidth is always on and available to you alone, whether you are using it or not.
Satellite space segment is pricey by any standards, due to the extreme cost of developing, building, deploying, and operating a satellite in space. You would need good reasons to justify a dedicated service just for you, unless you are a very heavy, around the clock, bandwidth user with an unlimited budget. Dedicated bandwidth is like having a whole train, reserved only for you, and you need to use all the space to make it worthwhile.
There are several variations of SCPC where, for example, a shipping company might secure dedicated bandwidth and then share the bandwidth, using various technologies such as FDMA, across their fleet of ships.
TDMA is the common form of securely sharing bandwidth, where each second or millisecond is sliced up into microseconds and shared between several users. This is timeshare in the sky except that you are not buying a week or two per year, but rather a few milliseconds every second. While you are downloading your Internet, or speaking on the phone, you don't even realize that there are several other users doing the same thing on the same satellite link. When there are fewer people using the link, there is more bandwidth available for you, and when there are more people, you will have a bit less.
TDMA is difficult to implement on mobile marine circuits, due to the remote units changing their positions, and therefore their distance from the satellite and the time it takes for the signal to travel to the satellite. It is important for the controller to know the exact position of the remote terminals so that timeslots can be accurately allocated. This usually requires a GPS input to the satellite modem.
The most common iDirect networks use TDMA technology.
512/128 kbps $60K + $2500/month For full service internet access at sea with unrestricted web browsing, email and telephone, the most common system is the 1 meter, Ku-Band VSAT, combined with an iDirect modem, for which you pay a fixed price, billed by the month, for virtually unlimited usage.
Like DSL at home, the system is always on, and the access is shared among several other vessels contending for the same bandwidth. If the overall bandwidth is sufficient, and the number of vessels (contention ratio) is kept reasonably low, this is the most cost effective way of providing full service internet access to vessels at sea.
Depending on your bandwidth requirements, the typical monthly costs run between $1000 to $4000 and up....more>
KVH Part number S72-0357-05
Low Band LO = 9750 MHz
High Band LO = 10600 MHz
Note: All 4 ports are universal and controlled individually by tone and voltage.
Unlike the Brainwave, there are no dedicated HL, VL, HH, VH ports.
Marine Satellite Systems is a Fort Lauderdale based company dedicated to providing technical service and support on Intellian, SeaTel and other VSAT and Sat TV systems on yachts and ships.
Marine Satellite Systems provides engineering support and service for several marine satellite dealers, shipyards, satellite service providers, and directly to yacht and ship customers, worldwide.
When subcontracting, I represent and promote the contracting company as if I were an employee, so they can be assured that I will not be trying to sell their customers on other systems or services.
Marine Satellite Systems is not directly affiliated with SeaTel or any particular dealer or satellite service provider.
I have extensive experience in maintenance and installation of SeaTel, Intellian, Orbit, Spacetrack and other stabilized VSAT and TVRO antenna systems on yachts, cruise ships, and commercial vessels. I have many years of experience developing and troubleshooting iDirect and Comtech marine satellite networks. .
If you are having problems with your onboard VSAT, TV or network,
or need equipment installed or upgraded
512/128 kbps $60K + $2500/month For full service internet access at sea with unrestricted web browsing, email and telephone, the most common system is the 1 meter, Ku-Band VSAT , combined with an iDirect modem, for which you pay a fixed price, billed by the month, for virtually unlimited usage.
Like DSL at home, the system is always on, and the access is shared among several other vessels contending for the same bandwidth. If the overall bandwidth is sufficient, and the number of vessels (contention ratio) is kept reasonably low, this is the most cost effective way of providing full service internet access to vessels at sea.
Depending on your bandwidth requirements, the typical monthly costs run between $1000 to $4000 and up.
The system uses a 1 meter, stabilised, Ku-band antenna like the SeaTel 4006 or 4009, the Orbit 7103 or the KNSZ10 costing in the region of $50 000 to $60 000. The antennas weigh about 120-240Kg (250-500 lbs) and are housed in a radome of about 1.2m (50") diameter.
Satellite services are provided by companies like Stratos, Marlink, MTN, Caprock and a rapidly growing number of smaller companies and resellers. OmniAccess provides tailored VSAT services to some of the most elite super yachts.
Unlike global beam C-Band, Ku-Band provides regional coverage of certain areas, such as continental North America, Caribbean, South America, Europe and Mediterranean, select regions of Asia and the Pacific, and most recently, a Transatlantic beam covering the north Atlantic shipping routes. When a vessel moves from one region to another it will be necessary to change satellites, change satellite beams on the same satellite, or in some cases even change providers.
The high cost of the antenna equipment is driven by the tracking precision required to keep the antenna pointed at a tiny satellite 22,300 miles above the earth while the vessel rocks, rolls and turns in the ocean below, and the relatively small maritime VSAT market, with only about 5000 stabilisedVSAT terminals, to share the costs of development and production of this precision equipment.
With the cost to build, launch and operate a geostationary satellite over a lifespan of 10 years, at about $300 million one can understand the high, $2000-$4000, cost that the end users must pay for a small portion of the bandwidth.
Prices could range from something like $1500 per month for a 128/128 kbps circuit to $4700 per month or more for a 2048/256 kbps circuit. If you are quoted prices much less than this, you can be assured that the operator is cutting costs somewhere, probably by over-subscribing and reselling the same bandwidth to multiple users. Even though low priced, over-subscribed networks can sometimes meet one's needs quite adequately and cost effectively, one must remember that you get what you pay for.
A correctly proportioned satellite network with an appropriate number of contenders, should provide perfectly satisfactory internet access, unless one of the users is hogging all the bandwidth by continually downloading huge movie or music files. Some providers put bandwidth limits on each user to prevent this from happening.
Some providers will offer the option of a committed information rate (CIR) where they guarantee that your bandwidth will never drop below a certain (usually quite small 16-32kbps) level. This just means that your internet will not grind to a halt, but simply slow way down at times of heaviest contention. Often a certain CIR is included in your monthly cost, but increasing the CIR can be quite costly. If you need higher guaranteed bandwidth, you might be better off with a dedicated (uncontended) service if you can justify the cost.
While there is no fixed formula for calculating a satisfactory contention ratio, the best providers will monitor bandwidth usage, and adjust bandwidth accordingly to accomodate the needs of the subscribers. This is usually only possible with larger providers that have open ended bandwidth agreements with the satellite companies.
The Evolution modem is the latest from iDirect including the DVB-S2 and ACM in a lower cost modem. This debuted with the X3 modem in 2008 and the current X5 modem is backward compatible with the iNFINTY modems. The backward compatibility is important when upgrading large fleets.
This satellite is currently being phased out (October 2016) and replaced by Intelsat 30 (DLA-1) also at 95W 1.2m 1.0m 85cm DirecTV Latin America 10500 MHz LO Circular. Tracking frequency 1039 MHz, 20000, 2/3, LHCP
DIRECTV on 101 West carries only standard definition Ku-Band TV suitable for all marine TV antennas including SeaTel 4004/5004. For high definition you need a special KVH HD11, HD7 or Intellian S80HD, S6HD which includes Ka-Band coverage on two adjacent Ka satellites.
Inmarsat has announced that it will provide a seamless, global Ka-Band VSAT service to antennas as small as 20 cm, beginning in 2014
The new Inmarsat F5 constellation, provided by Boeing will commence operation in 2014 under the name of Global Xpress™. It is said that the service will be faster and less expensive than current Ku-band offerings, and it will be delivered to smaller and cheaper terminals.
Fleet Broadband is the latest from Inmarsat providing worldwide coverage* for voice and data using three, new, powerful, I4 satellites.
N and S America, E. Pacific
Europe, Middle East and Africa
India, China, Australia, W.Pacific
Copyrighted image reproduced with permission of Inmarsat
This map depicts Inmarsat's expectations of coverage, but does not represent a guarantee of service. The availability of service at the edge of coverage areas fluctuates depending on various conditions.
Shipboard terminals come in 3 sizes, ranging from less than 12 inches to 25 inches in diameter, with a choice of data capabilities.
Fleet Broadband provides IP Internet access, as well as switched telephone connections to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Voice calls are billed at a cost of about $1 per minute, depending on your service contract. The terminals come equipped with an IP telephone that can be used for voice calls and SMS messaging.
Data usage is billed by the megabyte. On the two larger terminals one can choose between a contended (shared) bandwidth that is always available like a regular internet connection, or guaranteed, "streaming" bandwidth on demand, for transfer of critical data.
An example of pricing is available here at groundcontrol.com
512/256 kbps $30K +2995/month 384/128 kbps $30K +$412/month
USAT (Ultra Small Aperture Terminals) with reflector sizes of only 60 cm (24") opens up internet access at fixed monthly prices to a huge market of much smaller vessels that could not support the size and weight of a full fledged 1 meter antenna....more>
Inmarsat has been the backbone of maritime satellite communications for more than 30 years. Inmarsat was founded in 1979 as a consortium of about 67 countries around the world for safety and communications of ships at sea. In 2005 Inmarsat transformed into a private company and continues to provide worldwide coverage voice, data and safety services.
Inmarsat uses lower, L-Band frequencies (1.5Ghz), which have wider beam width and are therefore more forgiving on pointing accuracy than higher frequency VSATs. This allows the use of slightly less sophisticated stabilization and lower cost terminals.
The downside is that there is not much bandwidth available at L-Band compared to the the higher frequency C-band and Ku-band and is therefore at a premium. As an analogy, the value of L-Band bandwidth is like city real estate, whereas C and Ku-Band are like country farmland.
Inmarsat provides global coverage (except extreme polar regions) using 3 or 4 dedicated, geostationary satellites to over 200 000 maritime terminals.
The legacy I3 satelites use 4 satellites positioned at:
Indian Ocean Region
Atlantic Ocean Region East
Atlantic Ocean Region West
pacific Ocean Region
These are used for Fleet 77, Fleet 55, Fleet 33 and Inmarsat B, and C
The new technology Fleet Broadband is covered by three I4 satellites at
FB150 is the smallest stabilized Inmarsat L-Band antenna providing simultaneous 4kb voice and internet access at speeds up to 150kbps. The bandwidth is contended, or shared with other users, so one should typically expect somewhat less than the 150 kbps theoretical maximum.
Antennas are lightweight, about 12 inches (30cm) in diameter, and can be easily placed on almost any size of vessel.
Start-up power requirements could be as high as 20 Amps (on a 12V system) but typically less than 2 Amps while the system is idle, depending on the ship's motion and sea conditions.
The cost of FB150 terminals is around $6000 or less, not totally out of reach of smaller vessels, but the monthly fee and the per megabyte cost of data usage could price this out of the market for the average cruising sailor.
In order to remain stationary in the sky, synchronized with the rotation of the earth, geostationary satellites must maintain an orbit 22,300 miles above the equator. Lower orbits move faster than the rotation of the earth, and higher orbits slower.
Because of this vast distance, large, directional,dish reflector antennas are required to communicate with geostationary satellites. In the marine world, these antennas must be stabilized to point precisely at the correct satellite, as the ship moves and turns below.
On the other hand, Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, like the Iridium fleet, are only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth, allowing small, handheld terminals with omnidirectional antennas to be used. To maintain this low orbit, the satellites are constantly moving, rapidly around the earth.
Iridium uses a fleet of 66 satellites with 11 satellites in six orbits, 485 miles above the earth, rotating from pole to pole and thus covering the entire globe.
From any position on the globe, the satellites are constantly rising, zipping across the sky at 1700 mph, and setting again.
A complete orbit around the world takes about 100 minutes. So, while talking on the phone, your call may be handed off from one satellite to another, as they rise and set, similar to a cellular phone, as you drive from town to town, down the highway.
Traffic is passed from satellite to satellite before being downlinked at one of 4 base stations on the earth. When a satellite does not have direct communication with a ground station, it will relay the communication, using Ka-Band, with the satellites ahead and behind in the same orbit, and with satellites in the adjacent orbits until it can be downlinked to the earth .
Communication between handsets and satellites is at L-Band, using TDMA and FDMA technology.
Iridium Openport provides 3 simultaneous voice lines, and data at rates of 9.6, 32, 64 and 128kbps, via an omnidirectional antenna, contained in a radome, on Iridium's fleet of 66 polar orbit satellites.
The cost of the terminal is about USD$4, 600.
Airtime pricing is quite complex and varies by provider. The bigger reseller companies tend to have better rates. A one year contract is usually neccessary.
Phone calls are charged by the minute and data by the Mbyte. For the standard data rate of 32kbps a monthly fee of about $600 includes 300 minutes of phone calls at $0.89 per minute and 25 Mbytes of data at $14 per Mbyte.
Of course you have to pay for any additional minutes or megabytes if you exceed your allocated bundle. One has to be very careful not to run up huge bills while surfing the web, or while your laptop decides to download Windows SP3.
The lowest price option for 9.6 kbps includes no minutes or Mbytes and is only about $44 per month but you pay as much $1.50 per minute for calls and $22 per megabyte for data.
For the big spenders, $1300 per month will buy you 150 Mbytes and 300 minutes of phone traffic and if you want to bump that up from 32 kbps to 128 kbps you would pay an additional $350 surcharge.
Here is a pricing table example from ocens.com. Apparently one can get substantial discounts on airtime from the larger providers.
When you get to the high end bundles, one should really start considering a VSAT service with a fixed monthly price for unlimited data, although the $600/month bundle (25Mb/300m) at 32kbps might be the perfect solution for vessels that just need email and the odd weather report.
Iridium OpenPort Specifications
Height: 9.06 in (230 mm)
Diameter: 22. 44 in (570 mm)
Weight: 24.25 lb (11 kg)
3 independent RJ11 ports for simultaneous use
IP-based, 9.6-128 kbps (configurable) with per-MB pricing for airtime
Below Decks Unit
Height: 7.78 in (200 mm)
Width: 9.84 in (250 mm)
Depth: 2.17 in (55 mm)
Weight: 2.98 lb (1.35 kg)
LEDs and configuration through Web browser interface
The azimuth is the horizontal angle from true north in a clockwise direction , or bearing of the satellite from the antenna .
Obviously, the azimuth of the antenna must match the azimuth of the satellite, or it will not acquire the satellite. This satellite azimuth depends only on the satellite longitude and the position of vessel.
The most common reasons for an antenna not finding the satellite is that it is pointing to the wrong place in the sky. This could be due to compass error, antenna alignment errors, the wrong ship position from the GPS, or the wrong satellite longitude selected.
Single Carrier Per Channel circuits provide a dedicated channel between ship and shore wherein the full bandwidth is always on and available to you alone, whether you are using it or not. Satellite space segment is pricey by any standards, due to the extreme cost of developing, building, deploying, and operating a satellite in space. Therefore, you would need good reasons to justify a dedicated service just for you, unless you were a very heavy, around the clock, bandwidth user with an unlimited budget. There are several variations of SCPC where a shipping company might secure dedicated bandwidth and then share the bandwidth, using various technolgies, across their fleet of ships.
Elevation is the pointing angle from the horizon to the satellite. The elevation and azimuth are calculated by the antenna based on the GPS position of the vessel and the Satellite longitude, nothing else.
Zero degrees is looking at the horizon and 90 degrees is looking at the zenith (or directly overhead).
VSAT- ALWAYS ON - FIXED PRICE. Technically, all parabollic dish satellite terminals less than 3.8 m could be called Very Small Aperture Terminals, or VSATs, but the term VSAT generally refers to transmit/receive (TX/RX) satellite terminals used for two way, data and voice traffic, like internet and telephone. A VSAT service is typically billed on a monthly contract, rather than by the minute, or by the megabyte like Inmarsat satcoms.
Programming at 13E is carried on beams from 3 different satellites colocated at 13E. The map gives a general approximation, and coverage may vary considererably especially near the edge of the footprint.
1.5m 1.2m 1.0m 80cm
TDMA - Time Division Multiple Access: TDMA is the common form of securely sharing bandwidth, where each second or millisecond is sliced up into microseconds and shared between several users. This is timeshare in the sky except that you are not buying a week or two per year, but rather a few milliseconds every second. While you are downloading your Internet, or speaking on the phone, you don't even realize that there are several other users doing the same thing on the same satellite link. When there are fewer people using the link, there are more timeslots and more bandwidth available for you, and when there are more people, you will have a bit less.
@SEAdirect™ from Marlink offers always-on Internet and emailing, with voice capability, providing global Ku-band VSAT at a low, fixed monthly price.
This is a minimal, no frills service at a higher contention ratio. Unlike WaveCall's 24x7 technical support , @SeaDirect offers technical support only by email.
The advertised price $1550 per month is for 256K downlink and and 128K uplink. There are faster packages available as well.
Unlike WaveCall, this is for a full year contract. Wavecall allows a layup period of 3 months per year.
Customers that require a business reliable, full fledged service should select the Wavecall package. @Seadirect is for customers that are prepared to economize on services in non- critical situations. Since it uses the same equipment, it is easy to upgrade to the Wavecall package at any time.
CDMA- Code Division Multiple Access works much the same as TDMA for sharing the circuit, except that instead of allocating timeslots for each burst of information, everyone just talks at the same time. Due to special coding, each listener listens only to his own data messages and ignores the rest. It is like several songs being sung in the same room at the same time, but we can still tune out the others and follow just one of the songs at a time.
Whether you have a successful Internet or phone session, may depend on how many other users have been sold the same package on the same network, and are contending for the bandwidth at the same time as you. The number of users subscribed to the same network is known as Contention Ratio.
Sharing the network with other users in this way, of course drops your monthly costs tremendously, and if the contention ratio is reasonable, you will not even notice the difference. On the other hand, if a circuit has been oversold, the quality of your experience could be greatly reduced, especially if one or two users in the pool are using excessive bandwidth by downloading movies or huge files.
Advertised contention ratios range from as low as 1:5 to 1:8 to as high as 1:20 and beyond. This can be interpreted in different ways. When they state that the contention ratio is 1:10, this may not mean that only 10 vessels are assigned to this circuit. Since all users are not necessarily online at the same time, some satellite operators define this as no more that 10 persons online at the same time (on average). Diligent operators will monitor the traffic and make adjustment to ensure that this remains more or less true.
Under normal circumstances however, it is surprising how many users can successfully share the same bandwidth and all have a satisfactory experience. Because of this, it is difficult to specify exactly what is an acceptable contention ratio. I know of a cruise ship in the old days that had 49 terminals on a 128/128 circuit. Granted, not all of these were in use at one time,and they would get some complaints from time to time, but many people got to send their emails and do their online business sucessfully.
Often when you discuss contention ratios with satellite providers, you can expect vague replies.
Some providers guarantee a minimum contention ratio, but the proof of the proverbial pudding is in the actual throughput that you experience, and the quality of your phone conversations over the link. The satellite provider can also guarantee a certain Committed Information Rate or CIR that your throughput should not drop below.
Generally speaking, the cost of satellite bandwidth (in a particular band and area) is much the same to all providers, so if you get offered bandwidth at extremely low prices, they are obviously cutting corners somewhere, and you should expect a less than perfect service. On the other hand, for some users, the low priced networks prove quite adequate for their needs.
It is best to talk to others that have been using a particular service for some time, or better still, go onboard a friends boat and try it for yourself.
512/256 kbps $30K +2995/month 384/128 kbps $30K +$412/month
USAT (Ultra Small Aperture Terminals) with reflector sizes of only 60 cm (24") opens up internet access at fixed monthly prices to a huge market of much smaller vessels that could not support the size and weight of a full fledged 1 meter antenna.
Until recently, traditional Ku-Band VSAT was restricted to antennas of 1 meters or greater, whose beamwidth was small enough not to interfere with adjacent satellites. The larger the antenna, the narrower the beamwidth.
Using conventional modulation methods, this size was required in order to prevent the uplink transmission interfering with the adjacent satellites which are often spaced only 2 degrees or less from the target satellite.
New modulation methods, employing spread spectrum technology have allowed the bandwidth to be spread out over multiple frequencies thus lowering the spectral density of the signal and the level of interference from ultra small (60 cm) miniature VSATs.
While the cost of the terminals is substantially less than 1 meter systems, it actually cost providers more to deliver services to the smaller antennas, due to the extra bandwidth required. Consequently airtime rates are not necessarily lower, however, to fit the smaller vessel budget, some providers are offering some very attractive rates, most likely at higher contention ratios.
iDirect were the first to develop ABS and most antenna manufacturers have made their terminals compatible with the iDirect ABS system.
ABS allows the remote modems to sense, via iDirect's OpenAMIP protocol with the antenna, when it is necessary to switch to another satellite. The modem then sets the antenna parameters and commands the antenna to target and track the new satellite, without any intervention from the onboard personnel.
With this feature, satellite operators can seamlessly join together several regional beams into contiguous, multi region coverage areas.
With iDirect/s Global Network Management System GNMS, the IP addressing scheme can be maintained, making the transition completely transparent to the user.
Marlink and Vizada are now part of Astrium, the aerospace subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, EADS.
Astrium is the number one provider of maritime VSAT with more than 15% of the market.
The Vizada brand has been absorbed into Astrium Services Business Communications which hosts all commercial satcom activities of Astrium Services.
In the maritime market, the company continues to provide services using the Vizada infrastructure of indirect sales through its Astrium service provider channels. The Marlink brand remains the direct sales channel.
Due to the effect of rain fade, normal satellite link budgets need to be sized with sufficient power to allow for the worst conditions. This is quite a costly operation as the operator is paying for bandwidth that is being used only when it rains at the teleport or at the remote vessel.
With Adaptive Coding Modulation the modem dynamically changes the modulation scheme to a more robust FEC, as the weather deteriorates, allowing communications to continue in the worst conditions, albeit at a lower rate.
For customers that cannot tollerate reduced speed, iDirect has a GQ0S that allows setting of a Extended Information Rate(EIR) that guarantees throughput at a certain level in the worst conditions, at a fee. Resources are taken from lower priced links, that are not being disadvantaged by the weather at that time, to boost the premium link to the required level.
ACM results in a substantial savings of bandwidth and money for the network operator and the customer while maintaining quality links.
ALWAYS ON - FIXED PRICE. Technically, all parabollic dish satellite terminals less than 3.8 m could be called Very Small Aperture Terminals, or VSATs, but the term VSAT generally refers to transmit/receive (TX/RX) satellite terminals used for two way, data and voice traffic, like internet and telephone. The term "small" compares to the huge 25 meter Standard A teleport antennas.
A VSAT service is typically billed on a monthly contract, rather than by the minute, or by the megabyte like Inmarsat satcoms.
There are quite few stabilized VSATs in operation when you consider that there are less than 10 000 active terminals worldwide.
The flexibility of the iDirect hub allows operators to buy capacity on a hub card from a Host Network Operator. This allows smaller operators to offer extremely competative services without the huge upfront investment and grow their capacity as business develops.
This VNO model also facilitates providing services in remote ocean regions uplinked to a different satellite from a different continent.
Not to be confused with TDMA, Time-division multiplexing is a type of digital multiplexing in which two or more signals are transferred simultaneously as sub-channels in one communication channel, but are physically taking turns on the channel.
The time domain is divided into recurring timeslots, one for each sub-channel. A byte of data block of channel 1 is transmitted during timeslot 1, channel 2 during timeslot 2, etc.
TDM is Multiplexing technique where each channel is assigned a timeslot in a frame whether they use it or not, and TDMA is multiple access technology when several channels are randomly assigned timeslots on demand, and when needed.
Inmarsat C terminals are a good safety resource onboard, providing free reception of satellite safety messages and weather, as well as worldwide text messaging via Inmarsat costing about 1 penny per character(including spaces).
The system connects to your laptop via a serial port or USB to serial converter and allows you to send short email messages and even small binary files like photographs, short videos and audio clips.
It is useful when all else fails, and you need to get a short message to someone via email from anywhere in the world, when you are out of cellular or GSM mobile phone range.
It can also be used for automated scheduled position reporting.
The older systems, designed for DOS, require special software like Nebula to be used with PCs running windows.
You would need to set up an accounting authority to handle the billing for the service via one of Inmarsat's resellers, for the rare occasions when you might use it.
The system is required by commercial vessels under GMDSS certification and provides worldwide distress calling with position reporting. The system has a built in GPS that has an output that can be used to drive a chart plotter or other systems.
The system has two buttons, that if depressed for 5 seconds will send an international distress message with the current latitude and longitude.
In order to receive email messages, you need to set up permissions for friends and family to send to you. You pay to send and receive, so you don't want any unsolicited mail.
Inmarsat C is quite complicated to use, and it is essential to that your email is in the correct format for it to work.
Vizada has a new system called Skyfile C that is meant to simplify the process and allow Inmarsat to GSM messaging. Take a look at Vizada.com for further information.
Decibels can also express absolute values by referencing one of the power values like a Watt or milliWatt.
The benefit of using the logarithmic decibel units is that gains and losses can simply be added and subtracted rather than multiplied out.
dBW is a decibel referenced to one Watt.
X (dBW) = 10 log10 (X / 1W )
0 dBW = 1 Watt
dBm is a decibel referenced to a milliwatt.
0 dBm = 1 milliwatt
The XX04 is not an unlimited azimuth antenna. The cable needs to unwrap when it reaches the physical limits to keep the cable from becoming twisted. The antenna actually unwraps when it gets to within 3 degrees of the physical limits.
The antenna has physical limits at 20 degrees off the starboard bow, through two revolutions to 700 degrees, which is 20 degrees off the port bow.
In normal operation, the antenna can move a total of 674 degrees from Relative Azimuth REL 23 through REL 360 to REL 697 degrees. When it reaches 697 degrees it will unwrap 360 degrees to land back at 337 and continue tracking the satellite.
The Relative Angle (REL) of 360 degrees normally points at the bow. (In the case of dual antennas, one antenna might point to the stern to avoid both antennas being in unwrap at the same time.) There is no REL 0 degrees.
During antenna initialization, the antenna moves from wherever it happens to be, in a clockwise direction until it hits the endstop at 700 degrees. It then moves back to an angle of 630 degrees (90 degrees off the port bow). The REL should read 630.
When it targets the satellite, it will move, using the 630 degree point as a starting reference, to the required satellite REL which is calculated from the required Azimuth and the ships heading.
The first two digits of the antenna model denote the size of the antenna dish in inches.
3004 = 30" or 76 cm
4004 = 40" or 1m
5004 = 50" or 1.2m
6004 = 60" or 1.5m
The last two digits indicate the year that the design of the antenna began operation.
4004 indicates a 40" antenna with 2004 technology, even though it is still one of the most recent and current models in production today. As another example, 4094 indicates 1994 technology which was a popular antenna for many years and there are still many in use.
The multiswitch connects many decoders/receivers to a single LNB.
Each decoder puts out a signal to the multiswitch to determine which band and which POL is required for the TV channel that has been selected by the viewer. A DC voltage of 13V on the coax indicates that it requires a vertical POL signal, and 18V indicates a Horizontal POL signal. The presence of a 22 KHz tone on the coax indicates that it requires the high band and the absence of the 22 KHz tone indicates the low band.
In the case of a European LNB for example, the decoder will put out 18V DC on the coax without any tone, when it requires the Horizontal Low band, and the multiswitch will connect that receiver to the 3rd coax going up to the white connector on the LNB. If the same decoder requires Horizontal High band it will put out 18V as well as the 22KHz tone and the multiswitch will connect the decoder to the 4th coax going up to the black connector on the LNB. The same applies to vertical low and high bands.
The European LNB does not care what voltage it receives. It always puts out the same signal on the same coax. Thye switching is done in the multiswitch below.
Above the multiswitch, each port puts out the same pol and band continuously on the same coax. The tone and voltage signals are used only below the multiswitch to signal the multiswitch which coax to select.
In the Americas only the first, RHCP(V/L)and third, LHCP(H/L) coaxes are used.
When the DirecTV decoder ( for example) puts out 12 (or 13)Volts on the coax, the multiswitch will connect that decoder to the first coax and also supply the LNB with 12V DC to get a RHCP signal. If the decoder puts out 18V DC on the coax , the multiswitch will connect that decoder to the third coax, LHCP(H/L) and provide 18V to request a LHCP signal from the LNB. Unlike the European LNB where each LNB port is dedicated to a band and pol, the American LNBs require 12V for RHCP and 18V for LHCP on either port. The multiswitch will always supply 12V on the first coax RHCP and 18V on the third coax LHCP to the LNB.
Marine Satellite Systems LLC, is a Fort Lauderdale based company providing VSAT and Sat TV support to yachts and ships.
As an independent contractor in the Fort Lauderdale area, I specialize in maintenance and installation of Intellian, SeaTel, Orbit, Spacetrack and other stabilized VSAT and TVRO antenna systems on yachts, cruise ships, and commercial vessels. I have many years of experience developing and troubleshooting iDirect and Comtech marine satellite networks
Marine Satellite Systems LLC is not tied to any particular satellite service provider. I provide engineering support to yachts and ships, directly and as a subcontractor for several companies both locally and worldwide.
If you are having problems with your onboard VSAT, TV or network,
or need equipment installed or upgraded
While I am in Europe for the spring, it is best to contact me by email rather than phone.
Integrated Receiver Decoder IRD Most decoders come in the form of a set top box, with a remote control. It will have a Satellite input from the LNB or multi-switch, and composite video out (yellow) and Stereo audio out (red and white). Many boxes come with HDMI and S-Video outputs as well.
Some have an input for your terrestrial antenna or cable. Some have USB inputs that allow control of the receiver by an external remote system like Crestron.
Most are equipped with an infrared eye to receive commands from the remote control or Crestron.
In some cases you might want to hide the receiver in a cupboard or locate it with other receivers close to the head end. For this you would need an IR extender, which consists of a receiver that is mounted discreetly near the TV, which receives the commands from the remote control, and transmits them over wire to the IR emitter that is attached to the sensor on the front of the receiver which is hidden away in a closet or located a few decks away in another space.
When locating several receivers together, it is important to black out the IR emitter with a patch provided by the manufacturer, or black electrical tape. This is to prevent commands from one receiver bleeding over to another.
In some cases, installers prefer to use "naked" emitters that fit inside the receiver and come out on a jack plug on the rear panel.
Inmarsat's IsatPhone Pro is a worldwide satellite phone offering 2.4k voice, text to sms, 160 character text to email. and 20kbps data.
It has a built in GPS and position data can be sent as text.
It conects to your laptop with a mini USB cable.
The battery has 8 hours of talk time, 100 hours of stand by time, and it recharges in 3 1/2 hours.
The phone measures 170mm (6.7") x 54mm (2.1") x 39mm (1.5") and weighs 279g (9.8oz).
There is a monthly service charge ranging from $15 with no bundled minutes to $240 with 300 bundled minutes. Additional minutes cost between $0.99 and $0.80.
You can buy addition airtime packages ranging from $30 for 25 minutes ($1.20/minute voice and $0.60 for outgoing text) to $3500 for 5000 minutes ($0.70 per minute for voice and $0.35 for outgoing text). Incoming text is free. See the SatPhoneStore website for more details.
Omniaccess have recently commissioned their new iDirect Evolution Teleport in Palma Mallorca.
Omniaccess provides quality VSAT services to select megayachts via their own Teleport and iDirect Evolution DVB S2 hub. This provides them with control of the quality of whole network from the hub, to the satellite, and the remote terminal.
While they can control almost everything except the weather, the iDirect Evolution modem's Adaptive Coding Modulation will reduce the effects of rain fade.
Intellian are now offering a complete FX terminal including the GX100 or GX60 Ka-band antenna, the FBB500 antenna, the all-in-one GX below deck terminal containing the ACU, and integrated iDirect GX modem, and Inmarsat's network Service Device to swith between the two antennas when necessary. This is all preconfigured, ready to install, in a rack.
Specifically designed for superior quality uninterrupted communication and entertainment reception of TV and data in limited space situations - aboard small, medium or large vessels, the highly efficient, lightweight AL-7203 linear & circular Ku-Band antenna can be deployed to support any number of end users.
Providing the best in high performance, low maintenance satellite reception from all over the world, Orbit Marine's AL-7203 innovative, flexible, stabilized TV antenna system supports a wide spectrum of satellites and polarizations, delivering high functionality in a compact 1.05m radome.
Here is an AL-7203 TV antenna, on port side, mounted in a AL-7103 radome to match the VSAT on the starboard side.
The antenna was mounted on its own base inside the radome, and a section of the inner base was removed to allow access through the hatch. This is very convenient for servicing or changing LNBs. Normally one would have to remove the AL-7203 radome to gain access to the antenna.
The XX09 series of antennas is based on the success of the predecessors 4003 and 4006 with all new electronics and sophisticated shock and vibration isolation.
They have done away with the mechanical level cage and incorporated a solid state equivalent inside the PCU.
The antenna comes with a tuned radome for minimum attenuation.
The most standard version is the 4009-33 co-pol/xpol version complete with 2 quad LNBs and a 8Watt Codan BUC. It is available in other configurations as well, but might take a little longer to order.
Note the wire rope isolators at the base of the antenna, the vertical isolation spring and the large pneumatic shock absorber on the right hand side. These antennas are designed for the worst sea and vibration conditions.
The new SeaTel 4009, 1.0 Meter Ku band VSAT antenna has been designed and tested to meet the most demanding sea state conditions. Based on the industry leading 4006RZA , the 4009 has improved above deck electronics in two housings. The level cage (the heart of the stabilizing system), now has no moving parts and is housed inside one of the modules.
It has significant improvements in vibration and shock dampening with a pneumatic shock absorber.
It has an improved, tuned radome for significant RF improvement. The radome diameter is a few inches bigger, but matching radomes are available for the XX04 TVRO series for aesthetically pleasing symmetrical dual antenna installations.
If the antenna is not tracking the satellite, or is tracking the wrong satellite, you may need to point it back at the target satellite during troubleshooting. To do this you need to tell the antenna, once again, which satellite to point to.
Press the NEXT button to cycle through the menus until you see the SAT menu.
Press the ENTER key once to enter the SAT menu.
Press the left arrow to enter edit mode, as if you were going to change the satellite longitude.
If the displayed satellite longitude is correct, it is only necessary to press the ENTER key again to target the satellite. If the satellite information is incorrect, you would use the up and down arrows to edit each digit before pressing enter.
You can now press the NEXT button a few more times and return to the AZ EL (Antenna) menu. Make note of the Azimuth and Elevation after the antenna has settled down.
When targeting the satellite, the antenna calculates the target azimuth and elevation using the ships latitude, longitude, and heading, and the satellite longitude and then points to a location in the sky 10 degrees above where the satellite ought to be. It knows that there can be no satellites in this location, so it measures the off-satellite signal strength or AGC. Once it knows what the signal strength is off satellite, it adds about 100 counts to this AGC and sets the THRESHOLD. The antenna then moves down 10 degrees in elevation to where it expects to see the satellite, and looks for a signal level or AGC that is above the THRESHOLD.
If it finds a signal above the threshold, it will go into TRACK mode. If id does not see an AGC above the threshold, it will go into SEARCH mode and start a spirally increasing search pattern until it finds the satellite or reaches a preset limit.
The LNB converter amplifies the very weak signal that is received by the antenna from the satellite which is 22300 miles above the earth, and converts it from the high band Ku or Ka frequencies down to L-Band (1.5GHz) which is easier to transport on ordinary cables from the antenna down to the decoder below decks. Without the function of the LNB we would need to run waveguide or very high tech cable between the antenna and receiver below.
It is called Low Noise because the signal it receives is weak and high in frequency and it is critical that the amplification and down converting process introduce as little noise to the signal as possible.
It is called a Block converter as it converts the entire block of frequencies (all transponders) that it receives in that polarization or band down to the intermediate L-Band frequency.
In order to re-use the same frequency for more than one signal, the satellites employ different polarization techniques.
With linear polarization, the satellite can transmit one signal at a frequency of , say 11592 MHz, in the horizontal plane and then transmit another signal at the the same frequency in the vertical plane and this doubles the capacity of the satellite.
Typically a satellite will transmit about 36 transponders of vertical signals, and 36 transponders of horizontal signals, sometimes at exactly the same frequencies, and sometimes staggered so that the horizontal transponders fall between the vertical providing further isolation.
At the receiving antenna the feed and LNB are able to distinguish between the horizontal and vertical signals. There is typically more than 30 dBs of isolation between a horizontal and vertical signal, so the two will not interfere with each other when they arrive at the antenna.
The European satellite TV signals use a combination of Linear Polarization as well as High and Low band. This results in 4 output coaxial signals from the LNB. Vertical Low, Horizontal Low, Vertical High and Horizontal High, often abbreviated to VL, HL, VH, HH or V/L, H/L, V/H, H/H. Unlike the American LNBs each port is dedicated to a particular band and POL, so it is important that the correct cable is connected to the correct output from the LNB.
It is also important that the European linear LNB is correctly aligned with the satellite in order to receive both the horizontal and vertical signals at the maximum strength.
In order to convert the received signals, the LNB uses a superheterodyne principle, like the old AM radios, to mix the incoming signal with the frequency of a local oscillator (L.O.). The result of this mixing, is the sum and difference of the two frequencies.
So if you receive a frequency of say 11539 MHz from the satellite, and mix it with a local oscillator LO of 10500 MHz the resultant sum and difference frequencies are 1039 MHz (and also 22039 MHz which we don't care about, and it is filtered out). So now we have a frequency of 1039 MHz containing all the information we need to generate our TV picture.
Many TV LNBs (especially the ones used in Europe) have dual oscillators, allowing you to receive a high band (LO=10600 MHz) and a low band signal (LO=9750 MHz) on separate coaxial outlets.
It is important to have the correct LNB LO frequency for the satellite that you intend to use: European 9750/10600, DTV Caribbean 10500 and USA/Canada 11250.
When installing a European LNB, it is important to align the horizontal and vertical planes with the satellite. (The Americas LNBs use circular polarization, so alignment is not necessary).
To line up the European LNB, set your antenna controller satellite longitude to the same as the ship's longitude. For example, if the ship is at longitude 8 degrees East, set your satellite longitude to SAT 8E even though there may not be any satellite at that longitude. Then go to the antenna and install the LNB so that it is vertical, with the 4 coax connections coming out of the top or, in some antennas, the bottom.
On a SeaTel antenna, connect the White to the H/L, Blue to the V/L, Green to the V/H and Black to the H/H.
Now, when you target your required satellite (example SAT 28.2E) the antenna will rotate the feed and LNB to the correct POL angle for that satellite.
Satellite TV in the Americas uses circular polarization. Instead of transmitting the signal in a vertical or horizontal plane, they somehow manage to send the signal out in a spiral pattern, separating the signals in a left hand spiral or a right hand spiral. This allows them to reuse the same frequencies on the both the Left Hand Circular Pol (LHCP) and the Right Hand Circular Pol (RHCP) on the same satellite, resulting in twice the number of channels.
Like linear polarization, they can transmit two signals, on the same frequency, with one transmitted in a clockwise spiral, or Left Hand Circular Polarization (LHCP) and the other transmitted in a counterclockwise or Right Hand Circular Polarization (RHCP) this doubling the capacity of the satellite.
The advantage of circular polarization is that you do not need to align the LNB with the satellite.
Most US/Canada and Caribbean (Latin America) LNBs use LHCP and RHCP connecting on two ports on the LNB. The POL that the port puts out is controlled by the supply voltage to the port. 12/13 Volts DC supply to either port will produce RHCP signals and 18V to either port will produce LHCP signals. It does not matter which port you connect to. Both ports are capable of either pol, selected by the 13V or 18 V supply.
With a SeaTel installation one uses the Blue and White connectors which are the low band connectors.
If you only have two TV decoders, you can connect one decoder to each port without the need for a multi-switch. Each decoder will switch the voltage to the LNB for the required polarization signal.
If the LNB has a DC supply voltage on the coax, of 12V or 18V, you will normally see an AGC of about 0800 to 1600 when the antenna is off satellite. When the dish is pointed at a satellite, you should see a rise in AGC to about 1200 to as high as 2200. If you don't see any variation in AGC, you are most likely not pointing at the right place in the sky.
There is not much between the LNB and the tuner in the DAC to prevent one form seeing a rise in AGC, even when on the wrong satellite, so if no change is seen, the dish is not pointing in the right direction, or there is an obstruction between the antenna and the satellite.
This could be for several reasons including:
Heading input is incorrect, Azimuth out of alignment, GPS position is wrong, Elevation is out of alignment, Polarization is on opposite pol, Satellite is blocked. Satellite frequency is wrong, Satellite longitude is wrong. Other satellite settings are wrong.
An AGC below 0400 or thereabouts, indicates that the LNB has no supply voltage, or the tuner has no connection to the LNB. Having said this, there are some tuner models that have and AGC of about 800 with no signal or supply voltage.
Seatel is the leading manufacturer of VSAT and TV antennas on yachts and ships, with the 1 meter (40") Ku-Band antennas being the most popular.
Most current SeaTel antennas use the DAC 2202 or 2200 antenna controller.
The older 4003 and 9797 systems use the DAC03 or DAC97
Due to popular demand for the older DAC03 operation, the DAC 2302 uses the same chassis and control panel as the DAC03, but with newer DAC 2202 hardware and functionality.
All antennas prior to the 09 series, have a mechanical level cage that contains sensors that tell the antenna how to compensate for movement of the vessel and and keep the sensors level with the horizon.
The level cage is a small, 50mm x 70mm silver or gold box on the side of the antenna frame that is driven by a small stepper motor with belt. When the antenna is first turned on, you will hear and see the level cage drive to it's physical endstop. When it reaches the endstop you will hear it cluck several times as it verifies that it has arrived at it's starting point. It will then move to the 45 degree position, and the antenna will drive in elevation to 45 degrees where the level cage should be level.
After a few seconds, the cross level will drive to make the antenna level from side to side.
The azimuth will then drive the whole antenna in a clockwise direction until it is pointing at the bow. After a minute or two, it will then drive to target the satellite. (TV antennas are different)
Watching the antenna as it initializes can often show up problems, especially with finding the satellite.
Go to the SAT menu by presing the NEXT button and then press ENTER ENTER to cycle through the antenna parameters. Take note of each parameter, and compare this with the instructions sent by the satellite provider.
The following is an example of settings on Telstar T11n with a quad LNB. Your required settings may be quite different.
The gyro heading input to the antenna is incorrect. Gyro compasses can take several hours to settle on the correct heading after a power outage. Check that you are receiving data from the gyro by pressing the NEXT key until you come to the LAT LON (SHIP) menu. Pres ENTER a few times to enter the menu and go to the heading screen. The heading on the left of the screen is the input from the gyro, and the heading on the right is what the antenna is receiving from the DAC.
Manually checking the heading.
Press the left arrow and move the cursor under the heading, and then the up or down keys to change one of the digits to something else, and press ENTER. If the heading remains at the new setting and does not revert back to the original heading, then you are not receiving input from the gyro. If it changes back to the original setting, you are receiving data from the gyro.
Go to the bridge and verify the actual heading using a magnetic or hand bearing compass, taking magnetic variation and deviation into account. If the actual heading from the gyro is obviously wrong, you will need to correct this. If it cannot be corrected immediately, one can drive the antenna manually to the corrected azimuth to find the satellite. This will work for a while if the vessel is on a steady course or tied to the dock.
If it cannot be corrected, there are ways to disconnect the heading input and enter the correct heading manually to find the satellite. The antenna will need to be put into Sat Reference mode to operate without heading input until the gyro can be corrected.
If all else fails, it may be necessary to reset power to the antenna and let the antenna reinitialize. This can solve many problems. Note that with a VSAT, turning off the power switch on the antenna controller does not reset power to the antenna (with TV antenna it does). In many cases the power to the antenna is supplied by a UPS somewhere else on the vessel. A way to be sure that the antenna has been reset, is to climb up in the radome and turn the breaker located on the base of the radome, off and on.
The TV antenna receives it's power from the antenna controller on the coax cable, so turning off the antenna controller will reset power to both.
Manually Searching for the satellite. Target the satellite again, as detailed above, and note the target azimuth and elevation once the antenna settles down. In the AZ EL menu, press the left arrow to slowly move the azimuth down about 10 degrees, while watching for changes in the AGC. Then try going up in Azimuth with the right arrow until you are 10 degrees above the target azimuth and watch the AGC. Return to the target azimuth. Then try using the up and down arrows to go up and down 10 degrees in elevation while watching the AGC.
Stop if you see a rise in AGC, and try peaking up the signal using the left/right and up/down arrows. Once tracking, check the receive light on the modem. If you get a solid receive light you can be 99.9% sure that you are on the right satellite. If not, you may be tracking the wrong satellite.
The new SeaTel 4010 and 5010, 1 meter and 1.2 meter Ku Band antennas are lighter versions of the 4009 and 5009 with a significant reduction in price.
While the 4009 antennas were designed to endure extreme shock and vibration in high sea conditions, many vessels do not routinely encounter such waters and do not require the costly pneumatic shock absorbers or the sophisticated isolation features of the XX09 series. The new 4010 and 5010 antennas are a simplified version suited for vessels sailing in normal conditions.
The XX10 antennas combine the new technology of the XX09 electronics with some of the proven, simpler features of the 4006 and 4003 technologies like the conventional J post and a choice between waveguide or coaxial transmit feed.
So, if you do not expect your vessel to experience the harshest sea conditions, you can pick and choose the features that are important to you, without paying for the ruggedized features that you may never need.
The KVH Tracphone V7 mini-VSAT uses a 24" (60cm) dish and is reported to be capable of download speeds of 2 Mbps and uploads of 512Kbps.
Using traditional technology, a 1 meter dish is the smallest one can use without interfering with adjacent satellites. The smaller the dish, the greater the beam width, so the high power signals needed to complete the link from such a small dish, would splash over and interfere with satellites positioned just 2 degrees away from the target satellite.
To overcome this problem, KVH uses a modem from Viasat called ArcLight that uses a special form of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and spread spectrum technology, that spreads the signal over several frequencies, thus requiring much less power density at any given frequency, and therefore insignificant interference to the adjacent satellites. Most antennas of less than one meter utilize some sort of spread spectrum technology for this reason.
This technology allows for small antennas with less sophisticated stabilization, and therefore greatly reduced weight and cost, to be compliant with the strict satellite operation requirements. The Tracphone V7 antenna weighs only 60 pounds and is 26 inches in diameter; a solution that can easily fit on some of the smaller cruising yachts that have a need for full time internet access.
The Viasat ArcLight modem actually goes one step further and uses, what they call Paired Carrier Multiple Access or PCMA. This allows the return channels in the ship to shore direction to share the same channel as the outbound signal.
The KVH Tracphone V7 uses the SES Americom network of Ku-Band satellites giving continental spot beam coverage to North America and Europe and other areas of the world.
Small things still come in expensive packages, and the V7 terminal is up in the $33K price range.
Subscription plans vary with bandwidth requirements and can be billed by the megabyte (about $5/MB)or on a monthly subscription plans that can reduce this cost depending on your usage. See the KVH website Airtime Ratesheet for details.
There are also several pricing options for Voice over IP (VoIP) phone lines.
The Seatel DAC 2202 and DAC 2200 have 4 menus controlled by the touch panel on the right of the front panel.
Pressing the NEXT button one cycles through the following four menus. STATUS shows version numbers , errors, and status SHIP shows latitude, longitude and heading. SATELLITE shows satellite longitude, threshold, frequency, baud, LNB volt and NID. ANTENNA shows azimuth, elevation, AGC, relative azimuth and polarization.
In each of these menus, one can drill down to greater detail by pressing the ENTER button.
To edit any particular item, press the left arrow to move the cursor under the character that you wish to change, and use the up and down arrows to change to the required value.
The 4003 has been the work horse of the last decade and have only recently been superceded by the 4006, 4009 and 4010.
The majority of 1m VSAT antennas currently in service are still the 4006. The 4006 uses a DAC2200 or 2202 antenna controller whereas the 4003 used the DAC03 which was a digital version of the old TAC92.
The 4003 was limited to elevations below 80 degrees, and used a flexible coaxial cabel between the BUC and the feed, which resulted in some loss of transmit power. The design of the 4006 eliminated the elevation problem and came out with a waveguide feed and a waveguide rotary joint between the BUC and the feed.
15 Nov 2010: OmniAccess today announced at METS their new, ultra-fast 20 Megabit VSAT airtime package BroadBEAM Ultra.
While conventional satellite services usually provide maximum download speeds of 1 Mbps, Broadbeam Ultra is up to 20 times faster, and is considered the fastest maritime airtime package available today.
BroadBEAM Ultra is specifically designed for use within the Super and Mega yacht sector and for highend generation, bandwidth hungry applications like high definition conferencing, the simultaneous streaming of multiple HDTV channels, and other extreme applications.
OmniAccess BroadBEAM Ultra service will be offered in tailor-made packages, optimized for the typical yachting calendar, consisting of a 5-month winter-season package for the Caribbean (from 15. November - 15. April), and a 6-month summer-season package for the Mediterranean (15. April – 15.October).
In addition to the 20 Megabit service, OmniAccess BroadBEAM Ultra will also be offered at a lower speed of 10 Megabit down (1:5 contention-ratio) and 512 kbps up (dedicated) - for those whose bandwidth need is not as extreme.
BroadBEAM Ultra makes use of the latest, state-of-the-art iDirect Evolution platform and the iDirect x5 satellite modem to support these high bandwidth applications.
The BroadBEAM Ultra service-package starts with prices of €42.500 for the 10 Mbps service/Caribbean Season package, and €67.500 for the 20 Mbps/Caribbean Season package.
At METS 2010 Amsterdam exhibition, OmniAccess will launch BroadBEAM Ultra, and will be accepting orders for this year's Caribbean service - and pre-orders for next year's Mediterranean Service.
Based in the "yachting capital of the Mediterranean", Palma de Mallorca, OmniAccess offers a portfolio
of cutting-edge services and products to some of the world's most impressive yachts. OmniAccess' services encompass BroadBEAM VSAT solutions for high-speed Internet connectivity at sea, Teleport operations, PLEXUS advanced data-network design and implementation, project management and consulting.
Rumored to be based on missile tracking systems, this unique, 4 axis, stabilised antenna is impressive, to say the least. It's military origins are evident in the precision machining of the metal components and it's rugged, trouble free performance.
The dish is a highly efficient dual offset Gregorian 1.15m (45") Ku-Band antenna housed in a low loss 1.28m (50") radome.
The 3 lower axes are powered and controlled by three identical, and interchangeable SDM modules containing the mechanics and electronics of each drive. These modules are easily replaced with 6 screws.
The antenna weight of 270Kg (almost 600 lb) should be taken into consideration when placing the antenna.
The system has excellent remote software, allowing the antenna to be monitored and controlled over IP from any PC on the ship's network or even, if necessary, from a PC with access to the ship's network on shore.
When determining what type of communications system you need for your vessel, your first consideration should be the initial outlay of capital for the hardware as this can be quite substantial and a major deciding factor.
Deep sea global coverage
Full internet and phone and email
Pay by the month. Can be expensive
Cost effective for frequent use
Full internet and phone and email
pay by the month
most cost effective for frequent use
The C-band or Ku-band solution SEVSAT and TVRO from Ship Equip give ships cost efficient solutions for internet, telephony and television. They have installed more than 2200 stabilized antennas all over the world, and have extensive experience in supporting our equipment in demanding maritime conditions. The head office is situated in Ålesund, Norway with offices in Oslo, Houston, Seattle, Singapore, London and Reykjavik.
This small radome measuring 11"x6"x5" contains the antenna and all the electronics. There is a single, proprietory cable from the antenna to the below deck connection which consists of an ethernet jack, a phone jack and the DC power supply. The below deck can be 8000 feet from the antenna for the phone line, and 400 feet for power and ethernet.
The system operates on the Iridium network at standard Iridium rates providing analog voice, low speed IP data, text messaging including GPS position reporting via text message.
The system interfaces to your laptop via the ethernet port, or via the ship's network.
Spot Connect is a small button sized satellite terminal that connects to your iPhone or Android smart phone via bluetooth and allows you to send (not receive) small text messages and GPS positions via satellite when out of cellular range. Spot connect uses the Globalstar network of low earth orbit satellites. It can also be used to summon help in emergencies.
SPOT LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: GSAT).
SPOT Connect provides connectivity to global communication satellites for sending location-based messages from around town or areas outside of cellular phone coverage. By simply downloading the SPOT Connect app, SPOT Connect wirelessly synchs via Bluetooth with smartphone operating systems like Android. SPOT message features are then initiated using the SPOT Connect app on the smart device.
Additional Benefits and features:
Uses the GPS satellite system to determine location and the Globalstar satellite network to transmit that information to personal contacts or an international emergency response center
Send location-based messages via satellite to others delivered as SMS text or email
Send custom “Type and Send” 41 character text messages from your location
Update social networks including Facebook, Twitter and SPOT Adventures from remote locations
Provide GPS functionality to non-GPS devices
Utilize proven SPOT messaging features - Send custom or predefined messages, Track Progress on Google Maps™, or transmit an SOS message in an emergency
Store up to 10 predefined messages for quick reference and sending
Create and save contact groups to receive your SPOT Connect message. Each contact group can contain multiple contacts consisting of cell phone numbers and or email addresses
On device SOS button for standalone emergency operation
Web & Mobile account management
Bluetooth wireless connection
Waterproof to IPX7 standard
Lightweight at 3.7 ounces, SPOT Connect is portable and can be used handheld or attached to a pack or RAM mounting system
The SPOT Connect app can be downloaded anytime and works when SPOT Connect is registered with SPOT Basic Service and paired with the smart device. SPOT Connect is compatible with some of today’s leading smartphone operating systems such as Android . Additional smartphone compatibility is scheduled for release later this year.
Pricing and Product Availability Information:
SPOT Connect retails $169.99 MSRP plus a required annual subscription service starting at $99.99 per year and is scheduled to begin shipping this January to retail locations and online sites specializing in GPS, outdoor recreation and personal electronics. For more information on SPOT Connect and other SPOT products and location-based satellite service offerings like SPOT Assist Roadside and BoatUS Towing Services, visit www.findmespot.com
SPOT satellite coverage works around the world, including all of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia Northern and Central Africa, portions of South America and North-Eastern Asia and hundreds or thousands of miles offshore of these areas.
No Bluetooth Laptop App yet:
According to a customer service representative, it works with newer iPhones and iTouch and might soon include the Blackberry. I called to ask if it would work with my bluetooth enabled netbook, but it sounds like this will not be an option and I will have to buy at least an iTouch. I was hoping to connect my netbook on my sailboat to the Spot Connect, use the built in GPS and be able to send short text messages from offshore from alsmost anywhere in the world. It should be very easy for a developer to make a laptop program to emulate the smartphone apps.
Additional charges for custom messages:
I also checked on the messaging costs. The $99.99 per year includes unlimited pre-defined messages. You can predefine up to 15 messages and then select and send them from a menu on your phone. The messages are 41 characters long, bearing in mind that spaces and punctuation are also counted as characters. The following blue text is 41 characters: To send custom messages on the fly, you would need to pay an additional $29.99 for 100 custom messages or $49.99 for 500 custom messages. One message sent to a group only counts as one message even though there might be several people in the group.
Not bad really when you consider the coverage area, and being able to send from almost anywhere in any country and surrounding waters, without incuring cellphone roaming charges. $169.99 for the spot, $99.99 for the subscription and $49.99 for 500 custom messages. And then of course, you need to have a compatible phone or iTouch.
WaveCallTM by Marlink uses a 1 meter Ku-Band VSAT SeaTel 4006 antenna, an iDirect modem and a VoIP telephone adapter to provide Internet and VoIP phone services at downlink data rates of up to 1024 kbps and uplink data rates of 256 kpbs. The antenna, modem and Voip adapter are provided as part of the WaveCallTM package.
WaveCallTM is a shared service, that is always on, and is billed at a fixed monthly price for unlimited data transfer. The sharing of bandwidth allows reduced communications costs.
It is possible to use data and phone services simultaneously. WaveCallTM provides a broadband connection from the vessel to the public Internet and to the Public Telephone Network (PSTN)
The below deck equipment provides an ethernet port that can be connected to the ship's network, a WiFi router, or directly to a standalone PC. The RJ11 phone jack can be connected to the ship's PABX or directly to a telephone.
Business or Leisure
Using a shared access system makes WaveCall™ suitable for a variety of maritime applications including commercial shipping, fishing and leisure yachts. A variety of requirements can be met with the WaveCall™ range of applications, including file and image transfer, email, Virtual Private Networks, and database backup.
WaveCall™ is based on the industry-leading iDirect technology solution. The system has been developed to satisfy the needs of regional and multi-regional vessels which have lower bandwidth requirements.
Always on – Fixed price
WaveCall™ provides highly reliable access to the Internet and corporate networks. Using pooled bandwidth, WaveCall™ allows users to benefit from reduced communications costs, with data provided for a fixed monthly price and unlimited usage. The service charge includes all incoming and outgoing communication costs between the vessel and the Marlink teleport, yielding predictable communications expenses for the customer.
WaveCall™ provides regional and multi regional coverage on a global scale with seamless Ku-band coverage in the majority of key shipping routes, including the North Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean regions.
The unlimited data transfer allowance within the fixed monthly cost enables fast download of large data files and email with data rates of up to 1024 Kbps for shore-to-vessel communications and up to 256 Kbps for vessel-to-shore communications.
High speed connectivity allows access to data applications at speeds of up to 1 Mbps. Internet access is always-on, enabling the vessel to stay connected with the world at all times. Customs and harbour applications can be completed online and submitted via email, substantially speeding-up the process, reducing administration and increasing productivity. With the ability for the vessel to be connected to the shore HQ continually, business never stops.
WaveCall™ telephone lines offer high Quality of Service (QoS) voice calls through an internal PSTN infrastructure. With phone lines and computers capable of simultaneous use, calling a vessel from shore is as simple as calling a terrestrial fixed line.
How WaveCall™ Works
WaveCall™ provides a broadband connection via satellite from the vessel to the public Internet and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The system performs in the same way as any standard terrestrial voice and data network.
GNMS iDirect architecture, the latest platform from iDirect, is deployed throughout Marlink’s network, providing a dynamic bandwidth allocation with multiple frequencies. Use of the iDirect Real Time Traffic Management system enables the high quality transmission of voice applications that are less tolerant to delay or jitter. WaveCall™ with iDirect provides its users with IP-based technology which maximizes utilization of bandwidth. System, network and traffic classification are prioritized with unlimited service levels and bandwidth management.
24/7 Global Customer Support
With offices at strategic locations around the world, Marlink provides an exceptional level of customer support, service and installation, offering local advice and an in-depth knowledge of cultural and logistical requirements in all global regions. Wherever the vessel is located, the Marlink team is on hand 24/7, maintaining your satellite communications.
Summary of Key Features:
Data rates of up to 1024 Kbps for shore-to-vessel communications
Data rates of up to 256 Kbps for vessel-to-shore communications
Easy stand-alone or network compatible installation
Regional, multi-regional and global Ku-band coverage
Pooled bandwidth for reduced communication costs
24/7 worldwide customer support
Summary of Key Benefits:
Fixed monthly pricing for unlimited usage
Pooled bandwidth allows users to benefit from reduced communications costs
High speed connectivity - access data applications at speeds of up to 1 Mbps
Crew members stay connected keeping family and friends a phone call or email away
Vessel is always connected to the main office meaning business never stops
Customs and harbour applications can be completed online and submitted via email
IP access to the Internet and corporate networks enables fast download of large data files and emails
Unlimited data transfer allowance
High Quality of Service (QoS) for voice calls through an internal PSTN infrastructure
Easy, stand-alone or network compatible installation
LNB LO 9750 Mhz Linear (like Europe) http://www.lyngsat.com/packages/canalsatcaraibes_sid.html Tracking 1343 MHz - 30000 - 3/4. Lots of sports channels (including rugby) in French, and CNN in English. Receivers and subscriptions purchased from Canalsat Caraibes, Marigot St. Martin +590-590-875470. You may need a local address, or a letter from the marina stating that your boat is in residence in St Martin.
These new Seatel TVs provide worldwide coverage using the same Ku band Worldwide Programable LNB that automatically configures for circular pol or linear pol when changing regions.
The DVB S2 tuner, built into the above-deck antenna provides positive satellite identification on the of the latest DVB-S2 and DVB-S satellites. The antenna is controlled from any PC, tablet or smartphone on your ship's network via the built in web GUI in the LMXP (Media Exchange Point) located in the rack.
These antennas are specifically designed to receive DirecTV US high definition Ku and Ka signals as well as worldwide circular and linear Ku Band satellites. The triple port feed receives three satellites at 99W, 101W and 103W simultaneously. These antennas are recommended for vessels that spend most of the time in the continental US and are set up for high definition DirecTV distribution to the TV receivers.
The receivers should be HD capable, and located close to each TV so that they can be connected with HDMI cables to the display. The maximum length of HDMI cables is limited without special HDMI extenders.
Reflector 106.68 cm (42in)
Reflector 129.54cm (51 in)
Radome 136.46 cm (53,72 in) x 152.2 cm high
Radome 166.88 cm (65.7 in) x 178.31 high
Weight 104.33 kg (230 lbs)
Weight 117.93 kg (260 lbs)
Ku + Ka Triple port feed 3 DirectTV satellites HD + SD + worldwide Circular/Linear LNB
Ku + Ka Triple port feed 3 DirectTV satellites HD + SD + worldwide Circular/Linear LNB.
This is a universal LNB that can receive linear satellites (Europe etc.) and circular satellites(Americas) without any change of LNB. One motor adjusts the LNB between linear and Circular, and the other motor adjusts the linear pol angle. This is controlled automatically from the antenna control unit when switching satellites. The LNB can emulate any standard LNB local oscilator.
These LNBs are used on all Intellian W series like t80W, t100W, t110W, t130W.
http://www.marinesatellitesystems.com/inclined.php is an experimental tacking calculation for inclined satellites, currently showing Intelsat 701. You need to enter the ship's latitude and longitude t see the current azimuth and elevation of the satellite.
Two line elements are tables that provide the data to calculate the position of the satellite. These TLEs age over time and become slightly less accurate. For the best accuracy, you can download the latest TLEs on the link provided. You need to cut and paste line 1 and line two of the TLE into the table.
While the form defaults to Intelsat 701, any satellite two line elements can be pasted into the form to give the current azimuth and elevation.
Contention Ratio is the number of other subscribers on the same network competing for the same bandwidth.
Generally speaking, the contention ratio is the MIR (Maximum Information Rate) divided by the CIR (Committed Information Rate). So with a contention ratio of 4:1 on a 1 Mbps downlink, the 4 subscribers would each have 256kbps guaranteed, while they can each burst up to the full 1 Mbps as it is available and not in use by their peers.
A quality, marine shared network may have a contention ratio of 5:1 and this generally will provide good results. Theoretically this means that in the assigned MIR bandwidth that there are a total of 5 subscribers using the bandwidth simultaneously. Due to the sporadic nature that we use the internet, not everyone is downloading at the same time. Not everyone is even using the internet all the time, and when they do, it is in fits and starts with many idle times in between, like while you are reading the web page that you have downloaded. With voice calls, hardly any bandwidth is used while you are not speaking, between sentences, between words, and even between syllables. So there is plenty of free bandwidth for others to use.
Some providers offer a choice of an entry level package of 8 : 1 contention ratio which will work fine for most internet applications, and a premium package of 4:1 contention ratio which should provide excellent throughput near to the contracted rate. Most providers also advertise a 1:1 contention ratio, but this is a very expensive proposition and should only be considered if your applications demand the full bandwidth all of the time. It is often possible to temporarily bump up the bandwidth to 1:1 if you have that requirement for short periods of time and then drop back to a shared service during idle times.
While it is becoming more difficult to find Orbit parts and repairs on this side of the Atlantic, there is a company in Canada, MINS Technologies, that sells new Orbit antennas, and has a large stock of new, used and refurbished Orbit parts.
MINS Technologies offers a "mid-life" upgrade for aging Orbit antennas, replacing bearings and all the relevant mechanical and electronic parts, effectively renewing or doubling the life of the antenna.
Some of the low budget providers (perhaps not marine) have contention ratios of "many to one (20:1 or 40:1). Some terrestrial internet providers use contention rations of 50:1. Depending on your usage requirements, this is often fine for casual use and provides offshore VSAT service to vessels that would not normally have this in their budget.
There is talk that some providers will take license with the contention ratios and oversubscribe the network, where they put more subscribers than the defined contention ratio on the same bandwidth. They justify this by saying that the contention ratio is the average number of subscribers using the network at any given time, not the total number of subscribers assigned to that network. They count only the users that are actually online at that time. They monitor the usage and dynamically adjust the bandwidth to keep a satisfactory user experience for all. As long as this is done diligently this should not be an issue, and if the user experience is not effected, hopefully this economy will be reflected in reduced monthly fees to the subscribers.
The bottom line is the user experience and the monthly communication budget of the vessel. If you are not getting satisfactory results, you may need to increase your service agreement and pay for more MIR or CIR. If you have an absolute minimum bandwidth requirement (like VoIP), increase your CIR (or subscribe to a lower contention ratio). If you want more speed, then you will want to increase your MIR.
Turn the tracking off, and change the elevation to 0 degrees. Then go to the antenna, and verify thet the antenna is pointing at the horizon. If not, try and estimate how many degrees it is above or below the horizon and try compensating for this error, manually when targeting the satellite.
You will need a Sky Italia receiver and a subscription card that is available only on an annual (12 month) basis. Receiver Decoders range in price from €150 for a standard receiver to €450 for a PVR receiver.
The basic package is Sky Mondo TV that includes the major English news channels . Note that channels assignments vary and this may not be the line up you receive.
To obtain Sky Italia in Italy you should normally have an Italian address and a fiscal number. It can take quite a while to complete the process.
For yachts visiting the Mediterranean, some marine companies supply the receivers and host the receiver accounts. The Sky Encoder costs about €180 and a full TV package of Sky Italia prepaid with a 12 month subscription with Calcio (Football) + Sports + Cinema is about €1750 for each receiver.
The Sea Tel Model 9797 radical offset antenna is a most efficient C-band, X-band and Ku-Band marine stabilized antenna. The Model 9797 is both INTELSAT and DSCS compliant.
It is also available as a dual-band selectable C and Ku-Band system for complete flexibility. Innovative Radical Offset antenna technology provides unparalleled efficiency and performance.
The Sea Tel 9797B uses the DAC 2202 Antenna Control Unit. The DAC 2202 is 19” rackmount unit (1.75” tall) featuring: (3) RS-232/422 Serial Ports; (1) full function M & C and (2) NMEA ports for heading, GPS input and modem compatible, reformatted GPS output; (1) Ethernet port allowing (2) full function TCP/IP M & C ports; (1) multi-user HTML interface port for setting all DAC parameters and viewing the current DAC status; (1) UDP download port for updating software in the Comm Interface. DAC 2302 is available for 70/140 MHz receivers.