Posted on: 29 January 2016 by Mark Howells
In response to increasing demand for high-performance ‘Satcom on the Move’ earth stations, the satellite industry is improving the way that terminal specifications, testing, and approvals are applied.
The breakthroughs, which reduce ‘time to market’ with streamlined product-quality validation, are being made through contracts awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) to Fraunhofer IIS, that has developed test facilities for the programme, and Global VSAT Forum (GVF), the global association of the satellite communications industry.The initiative is focused on the mobile Ku- and Ka-band VSAT market for three environments: land, maritime and aeronautical. Enhanced test procedures have now been developed by Germany-based GVF Member, Fraunhofer IIS that incorporate standard motion profiles for testing in the GVF 105. With procedures for land and maritime terminal testing completed and agreed, future work aims at extending GVF 105 to include aeronautical and train system test specifications.Progress has also been made in in two critical areas related to the ESA ‘Satcom on the Move’ project.In conducting the inaugural test, Fraunhofer IIS applied the GVF Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), which defines the standard procedures that an antenna or earth station manufacturer must perform in order to apply for Type Approval from satellite operators. Use of the procedure not only improves the quality and completeness of test data, but helps reduce the time and cost required to bring new ground-segment technology to the market, thus advancing the competitiveness of satellite communications.A value-chain analysis conducted for the ESA project has revealed a need for rationalization of the way that terminal specifications are conveyed to buyers. “The feedback we have received from industry is consistent with what we have been told by end users,” said Colin Robinson, GVF’s Project Director and Chairman of the GVF MRA Working Group, which is responsible for terminal type approvals. “There is a need to clarify specifications so that characterisation of terminal performance is consistent from one manufacturer’s product to the next. We are addressing that requirement.”