This exciting phenomenon has a problematic but preventable side effect: RF interference (RFI).
“All it takes is a single untrained uplink operator or a single piece of malfunctioning equipment to cause significant interference issues,” explained Stewart Sanders, Senior Vice President of Customer Service Delivery for SES. “But there are standards and best practices that can be easily implemented to greatly reduce RFI.”
Sanders and his SES team are spearheading much of the proactive educational and technical efforts dedicated to the elimination of RFI globally.
SES WORLD SKIES has contributed considerable funds and onsite staff to train and certify hundreds of engineers and technicians who are installing VSAT terminals for operators in Nigeria and across Africa. In conjunction with the Global VSAT Forum, SES is providing invaluable information and insight to those on the frontlines of vast VSAT deployments.
“We’re seeing enormous VSAT network growth around the world. And while the majority of the VSAT outgrowth is performed by established and experienced installers, there is a danger that significant problems can be caused by installers who haven’t had any formal training, if any at all,” said Sanders.
The ongoing GVF 510 training initiative for VSAT engineers in Africa is just one of many preventative measures and programs that SES is leading. The company is a founding member of the Satellite Users Interference Reduction Group (SUIRG) and a proactive attendee of the World Broadcast Unions – International Satellite Operations Group (WBU-ISOG) meetings, which are contributing toward important RFI solutions such as the development of operational standards.
Key initiatives include:
Carrier ID – the ability to identify all digital carriers through embedded data in the transmission. Satellite operators in concert with WBU-ISOG, SUIRG and GVF, are currently developing Carrier ID standards for video, VSAT and data. “We’re moving forward leaps and bounds, to the point where we have a carrier ID specification for video and we’re closing in on one for VSAT,” Sanders explained.
Space Data Association (SDA) – the non-profit organization has a first-of-its-kind data sharing platform that pulls together mission-critical information about our own fleet and the spacecraft operated by others and, importantly, removes format incompatibility issues as well as providing a legal and technical framework that protects the integrity of our operations.
The SDA was formed following discussions that SES initiated with other operators at the Satellite 2009 conference. The SDA database was launched in July of last year. The data sharing effort targets three critical functions: Conjunction Assessment (CA); RF Interference (RFI) mitigation; and also sharing of operations points of contact.
SES’ investments in technologies and RF spectrum monitoring tools, such as the Advanced Real-Time Interference Location System (ARTILOS), are “providing a significant improvement in our ability to resolve interference events,” explained Sanders. “SES has some of the very best technical minds in the world and they’re fully aware of the importance of working closely with our customers and our competitors in order to successfully reduce interference,” added Sanders.