Norsat has been working with the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) since 2009, when we provided a satellite communication link for the Army during a European Union peace-keeping mission in Chad. Since then we’ve expanded the network to include Navy and Air Force and improved the quality of the network, providing a more reliable service, and reducing operating costs. This case study documents the results of our work with FDF, and provides a template for other organizations looking for cost effective, remote network communication solutions. For the full case study, please click here.
Archives: September 2012
Norsat attends a variety of trade shows each year where we demonstrate new equipment, and meet our valued customers. For a full look at our event attendance, please click here. We also attend events with our partners, recently including MED-IT in Algeria, MINExpo in Las Vegas and Modern Day Marine in Quantico
MED-IT is is a professional exhibition on Information Technology, which takes place in Algeria’s lovely Palace of Culture, with more than 5,000 trade visitors and 150 exhibitors. Norsat’s EMEA Sales Director, Hamed Henni attended the event, where he worked with partner Noyau Telecom and demonstrated Norsat’s ROVERTM ultra-portable satellite terminal.
Modern Day Marine,co-sponsored by Marine Corps Base, is a premier military equipment, systems, services and technology exposition. Norsat’s North American VP of Satellite Sales, Adam Witten, attended the event with our partners at DVIDS.
MINExpo is the world’s largest mining show with more than 1800 exhibitors in twelve exhibit halls displaying the latest technology, equipment, components, parts and services for exploration, extraction, safety, environmental remediation and more. Norsat’s Sinclair division attended the show, displaying a great line of RF conditioning and antenna products.
The next show Norsat will attend is METS, Marine Equipment Trade Show in Amsterdam, Nov 13 -15, and we’d love to see you there. To schedule a meeting at METS, or for more information about the shows we attend, distribution partnerships and product demonstrations, please contact us.
Have you every wondered if we’re serious when we say that our satellite terminals can be easily assembled with very little training? We decided to prove ourselves by asking our very own, non-technical marketer to assemble a ROVERTM satellite terminal with a brief demo and a user manual as guidance. To see how she did, take a look at this video of the results.
Norsat has provided satellite communication equipment and services for the Finnish Defence Forces since 2009. Before Norsat’s involvement, the Defence Forces were using an external network provider and needed a more reliable solution. Norsat met this need with an in house communication network, which was scaled from an initial small network to a large communications hub. The network now provides a cost-effective, high speed direct connection from Finland to the Finnish Army, Navy and Air Force troops anywhere in the world.
“Most of all, we have been pleased with the technical support and training, which has enabled us to produce reliable communications around the world, with minimum interference.”
FDF Head of Army CIS Integration Office, Captain Juha Pekka Leppänen
The Finnish Defence Forces (FDF), comprised of the Army, Navy and Air Force, are responsible for defending national territory, supporting other national authorities in safeguarding society, and leading and implementing international crisis management operations. More than 15 000 soldiers and civilians in the Forces are involved in deployments that include European Union and United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world. The FDF have a critical need to communicate with their deployed troops in the challenging environments in which they operate, ranging from winter temperatures of -40° C to desert highs of +50° C.
Prior to Norsat’s involvement, the FDF were using a third party hub located outside of Finland to communicate with deployed units. The primary problem posed by this system was the lack of reliability in the terrestrial connection between the satellite hub and the Finnish military network. Additionally, the network was under third party control, and the FDF were forced to rely on their provider to resolve all technical issues, regardless of magnitude.
The FDF needed a more robust communication solution that would connect their troops in extreme environments. They wanted to move away from an external communications provider and bring their network in house to ensure reliable service, strong security, and quality support. The ideal solution needed to be scalable, so that it could be implemented in stages to validate the chosen technology, and spread capital expenditures over time. Maintaining or reducing operational expenses was also a firm requirement.
Norsat began working with the Finnish Defence Forces in 2009, during a European Union peacekeeping mission in Chad. The army required a single C-Band satellite communications link and Norsat met their needs with a 2.4 meter transportable satellite terminal for use in Chad, and a 3.8m hub antenna located in Finland. The Norsat network enabled a reliable, direct communications link from Chad to Finland, and a second 1.8 meter remote terminal was provided shortly thereafter.
Following the success of the network used in Chad, the FDF requested that Norsat assist them in expanding their communication network to support an on-going mission in Afghanistan. This mission required the use of a different satellite, operating on Ku-Band, and the FDF were looking to use a more reliable network which would remain under their own control, and enable shorter reaction times. To meet this need, Norsat proposed a complete turnkey solution, including upgrading the existing system to manage bandwidth via Comtech’s Vipersat Management System, and expanding the network to a second satellite. Norsat also upgraded the existing remote terminals to be dual-band (C and Ku) capable.
After consultation with the FDF and design of the network, Norsat provided a second 3.8 meter satellite terminal hub with Ku-band capabilities to support the new satellite, and sent a customer support team onsite to install and configure the hub equipment on base in Finland. The team ensured the new hub equipment was installed and functioning correctly and provided on-site training for technicians so that they could configure and operate the system, including the new Vipersat Management System, independently. Norsat also provided additional portable ground terminals, equipped with dual C and Ku band connectivity, enabling easy switching between frequency bands in the field.
As the FDF became more and more experienced with this system, Norsat proposed a number of upgrades to the hub equipment to provide for full redundancy. After planning and testing with two hub antennas, the FDF deployed a third 3.8m hub antenna, as well as fully redundant transmit and receive systems for each of the existing hub antennas, all necessary for mission-critical operation.
The success of this network led the FDF to investigate the expansion of this solution for use in their Air Force and Navy. In March 2012, the first ship was integrated into the existing satellite network. To achieve this, Norsat provided the necessary equipment to upgrade the ship’s communications systems, and provided an on-site technician to ensure proper installation. After the success of the field trial on the first ship, the Finnish Navy selected Norsat to provide the equipment required to integrate an additional four ships into the satellite network. The Air Force has also come to rely on the system, bringing a transportable antenna as part of their command element when participating in exercises and EU obligations.
In addition to equipment supply, installation and network design , Norsat provided front line technical support including consultation on integrating the new network with within the existing infrastructure, customization of fit for purpose terminals, 24/7/365 telephone support, a dedicated customer service team, and second line network management services. Norsat’s support engineers were frequently on site in Finland to ensure the availability of the communication network and to train the FDF on the ongoing operation and maintenance of the system.
Norsat’s communication network has improved the reliability of communications for the Finnish Defence Forces and now enables Army, Navy and Air Force to communicate from anywhere in the world, including deployments in Afghanistan, Chad, Djibouti and Lebanon. This solution puts the FDF in full control of their communications systems, and improves network security by keeping their network in-house.
The network was scaled from the original single communication link for the Army to a fully redundant satellite teleport that now supports the entirety of the FDF. The scalability of this network enabled the FDF to assess the suitability of the solution before agreeing to expansion, and facilitated the management of capital expenditures. The network currently stabilizes their operating costs, and as it is expanded into the Navy and Air Force, it will begin to reduce operating costs as expensive pay-per use external satellite communication services are replaced by the fixed cost internal network.
The choice of the Vipersat Management System has been very beneficial to the FDF. The technology provides flexibility for operating the remotes, including on-demand bandwidth allocation and mesh connectivity between remotes, and it greatly reduces the requirements on the field operators. Additionally, the dynamic single channel per carrier (SCPC) nature of Vipersat provides for significantly better quality of service (QoS) capabilities, and allows remotes with radically different capabilities to participate in the same network. This enables naval vessels with 1m antennas and 8 watt transmitters to participate in the same network as 2.4m antennas with 40 watt BUCs.
The hub redundancy is also crucially important to the success of the network. Should any major component fail in operation, the system is capable of automatically falling over to a spare unit. This is a critical feature as it allows the hub to operate unmanned for significant periods of time.
This communication solution provides a breakthrough for the Navy, as it enables access to shore-based resources that were previously unavailable while at sea. For the first time, the Navy now has full access to the military network while at sea, including access to secure documents and emails, which will facilitate improvements in productivity and reductions in response times. It also represents a significant cost reduction, as the Navy no longer has to rely on traditional global maritime communications providers for their day to day communications
In the field, Norsat’s rugged, portable satellite terminals consistently provide communication links in the extreme environmental conditions of desert deployments, wet conditions and cold Northern winters. Norsat’s easy to use “LinkControl” interface has enabled FDF technicians to successfully operate in the field with minimal training and expertise. Additionally, the portable terminals can be quickly set up without tools, an essential requirement for the FDF troops who often use the terminals in extremely cold conditions where gloves are necessary. The dual band functionality of the terminals also enables the army to switch bands easily in the field and make communications decisions on a mission to mission basis.
Regarding Norsat’s involvement in the satellite communications network, the FDF Head of Army CIS Integration Office, Captain Juha Pekka Leppänen stated,
“The team has been helpful, flexible and effective in helping us to meet the demanding equipment criteria of Crisis Management Operations. Most of all, we have been pleased with the technical support and training, which has enabled us to produce reliable communications around the world, with minimum interference. We look forward to continuing our personal and supportive co-operation in the future.”
For more information on Norsat’s design and installation services, portable satellite terminals, and remote network solutions, please contact us.
Norsat works with a variety of channel partners, including Spectrum Communications Systems, to bring our satellite communication solutions to customers around the world. Spectrum supplies satellite terminals to the Asia-Pacific region, and their excellent customer service and end to end solutions set them apart from the competition.To learn a little more about Spectrum, check out their profile below.
Company Name: Spectrum Communications Systems, Inc.
Mission/Vision Statement: Spectrum Communications provides professional sales, marketing, system integration, and after-sale support to North American and European manufacturers of satellite communications, wireless, and fiber optic products, serving the Chinese and Mongolian infrastructure development markets.
Began working with Norsat in: 2008
Markets Served: China (including Hong Kong and Macau) and Mongolia
Who are your major customers?
We operate in a wide variety of industries including broadcast, emergency communications, and all vertical markets that require satellite communications and fiber applications. Our products include traditional satellite communications, as well as large and small terminals. Our major customers include Provincial TV Stations, CCTV, Broadcast system integrators, Satellite operators, Beijing TV, telecoms system integrators, and satellite network operators.
What are the challenges of working in these markets and how do you overcome them?
We find that there’s a lot of tough competition from local manufacturers and so competing on price alone can be difficult. However, our long term reputation for providing responsive sales assistance and after-sale support enables us to offer high quality, high performance products, which are especially appealing to our customers working in mission critical environments. We provide extra services many of our competitors don’t, including scheduling of deliveries, import documentation assistance, product delivery, and system installation and testing, so we provide a much more complete solution than many of our competitors. Additionally, we have a 20 year track record of success in China, so customers know they can depend on us to provide reliable products along with a high level of support.
What are the benefits of working in these markets?
Working in developing markets is exciting because growth potential is phenomenal, and we’re certainly experiencing better than average market growth right now.
Which Norsat products do you carry?
We carry a range of Norsat satellite terminals, the most popular of which, is the GLOBETrekker™. We’ve found that customers really like the GLOBETrekker™ because of its ultra-portability, flexible configuration, and rugged design. The fact that the terminal can be shipped in IATA compliant packaging is really important to many of our customers, and is often a key selling feature.
What are your strategic sales goals for the future?
We hope to continue to assist Norsat in developing successful future products, increasing sales coverage, and gaining share in more vertical markets. It’s been very helpful to have a Norsat sales director for the Asia-Pacific region (Dan Dia-Tsi-Tay) to support our efforts in China and Mongolia.
For more information about Spectrum, and the Norsat products they carry, please click here or use the contact details below.
|US Head Quarters
Frank Blaha: 1-702-897-8846
2994 Marble Cliff Court
Oliver Wang: 86-10-8251-1307/8/9
Cyber Tower A, Suite 1803
No. 2 Zhong Guan Cun South Avenue
Haidian District, Beijing 100088, China
While Norsat has a long pedigree with satellite broadband and cellular backhaul solutions, we’re relatively new to the world of smartphone applications.
Getting into smartphones was a natural progression considering our existing control software, the skills that Norsat has in-house and the needs of our customers. The difficulty was in deciding how to interact with our customers in a useful manner. After some examination, we looked at creating a very simple application, which would solve a common customer problem with satellite pointing.
One of the problems our users face is determining whether they have a correct sightline to their satellite. Near our main office we call this ‘Douglas Fir Interference’ since a common interruption in satellite linking is the realization that an 80 meter tree lies between you and the sky. While a chainsaw can solve some tree based problems, other common obstructions such as mountains, buildings or even busy roadways need a more elegant solution.
In order to provide a tool that would solve this problem we wanted to create something like a bore sight camera, which would let a user do a site survey and pick an optimal place for their dish, without having to deploy the equipment. Additionally, for customers with manually pointed systems (such as the ROVER™) the tool would also provide an intuitive estimate for the initial pointing.
With the choices available in the marketplace for Smartphone Operating systems we elected to go with iOS so that we could concentrate on the usability and rely on a consistent set of peripherals.
To develop the app, we used a camera, compass, inclinometer, and rough GPS data to get the information we needed and then paired these inputs with Norsat’s satellite almanac and existing LinkControl algorithms..
Initial development went well and we worked to ensure that the various data inputs were updated in a smooth manner. With the sensitivity of the compass and inclinometer we found that updates based on new positions were interrupted by new position changes and that unless a user possessed extraordinarily steady hands, it was going to provide a poor experience. We remedied this problem by using single process receive updates while the screen works on a periodic update system, ensuring a smoother look and a surer update.
During live testing we found that our initial graphic design had a critical flaw: Norsat’s corporate colours of blue and grey matched the colour of sky and clouds perfectly, making our satellite arc nearly invisible. Our graphics department suggested that the colour of the satellite arc and highlight colour could be a selectable options; also ensuring that anyone with colour-blindness can select a colour set that is comfortable to view. And a new feature was born.
After Norsat staff spent much time testing, tinkering and playing with the App, we submitted the Norsat Satellite Locator to the App Store last month and were pleased to see that our care and attention were rewarded by a very fast acceptance without update requests.
Since its release the application has been downloaded approximately 450 times a week and early results show good take up and positive feedback. But don’t just take our word for it- download the App for free and tell us what you think! With the relative success and the exposure of the application on the iOS network, we’ve elected to quickly port the application to Android, and look forward to sharing this tool with our Android users in the coming months.
On to the next adventure!
*Updated Oct 17, 2012: Satellite Locator for Android now available here.
We take customer feedback seriously at Norsat, and so when some of our customers mentioned difficulties with pointing their satellite terminals, we decided to find a solution: Meet the new Norsat Satellite Locator App, available for Free on the App Store. This App will assist users in locating satellites of interest, assessing obstructions and pointing satellite terminals, all from a simple iPhone interface. For more information on using the app, and its technical specifications, please click here.
We like to talk about how easy it is to assemble our satellite terminals, but now we finally have some proof! We decided to ask someone with no technical expertise to assemble a ROVER ultra-portable satellite terminal and then we documented the results. In this demonstration, we showed our very own marketer how to assemble a ROVER once, gave her a user manual and then asked her to assemble it on camera. You can take a look at a video of the results here.
In order to serve our worldwide market, we use an excellent distribution network of companies, each of which bring a wealth of cultural and market knowledge to our customers. One of our channel partners is Spectrum, a company based in China and selling into the Asia Pacific region. To learn more about Spectrum, and how they interact with Norsat, please click here.
Norsat goes social
Norsat has officially joined the world of social media and you can now find us on Twitter, YouTube and Linked In. We invite you to follow along to keep up with the latest Norsat news, product information and events, and to interact with us in real time. Feel free to send us relevant industry information or questions and we’ll do our best to respond to you right away. We look forward to socializing with you! Follow us at:
PS- Why not also follow our Sinclair Division for the latest news in Antenna & RF conditioning products:
We’ve been getting a lot of love from the media lately, so check out these outlets in this quarter’s Norsat in the News:
BC Business Magazine: Top 10 Growing Companies 2012. BC Business magazine does a yearly ranking of the province’s biggest and best public corporations, and Norsat ranked in the Top 10 fast growing companies in BC, in addition to a Top 100 ranking in biggest public corporations.
Branham300: Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies. The Branham300 list recognizes the best Canadian companies working in Information & Communication Technology, and this year we moved up this list to position 102 from last year’s rank of 139.
Business without Borders: This online magazine focusses on Canadian companies operating in export markets, and they recently included a great Norsat profile, describing our success in diversifying into new markets.
CanTech Letter : Cantech focuses on Canadian Tech Stocks, and following our strong Q2 financial results, they wrote this article predicting a great future for Norsat, including the potential for the company stock price to quadruple.
HSBC International Business Award Nomination: We’re one of just 11 finalists for this award, and we find ourselves in extremely good company. Winners will be announced at the awards gala on October 23rd 2012.