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.
Tags: Case Study
Access to reliable communication equipment is essential for law enforcement agencies where a short response time is critical in what could be a life or death scenario. Sinclair Technologies understands that reliability is always a major consideration in the design process for public safety products. A key law enforcement agency presented a requirement for a high performance duplexer to operate in a challenging mobile environment within very compact space constraints. Read how Sinclair was able to meet these requirements and design a custom duplexer that fits all of the law enforcement’s needs.
NASA had an aging radar infrastructure that needed to be replaced and upgraded. Radiometrics took on this project, but soon realized that they needed to partner with an antenna manufacturer who could meet the specifications of their custom engineered design. Radiometrics contacted several suppliers but only a few could meet these requirements. Sinclair Technologies stood out as the frontrunner due to their ability to customize and manufacture antennas in large quantities. Read more on how Sinclair worked with Radiometrics to create custom antennas for NASA.
In 2005, NAV CANADA’s radar coverage of Hudson Bay was limited to line-of-sight (LOS) and did not cover the entire Hudson Bay area. The Company used VHF communication sites around Hudson Bay and HF communications for areas that were not covered by VHF. During a testing phase, the system produced a result that was less than expected as the coverage was effected by ice buildup on the antenna. Sinclair Technologies was approached to provide a high gain antenna that would be able to withstand ice buildup and to provide the expected coverage. Read more on how Sinclair solved NAV CANADA’s antenna problem.
Norsat and Deviser Partner to Provide Next Generation Spectrum Monitoring System For Distributed Mission-Critical Applications
For over 60 years, Norsat’s Sinclair division based in Aurora, Ontario has provided high performance and ruggedized antennas to various industries globally. Our antennas are some of the best on the market, and will stand up to severe environmental conditions.
Sinclair supplied Deviser Instruments, a major test and measurement solutions provider with our SP4704 antenna for Deviser’s newly announced DS1620 SpectrumPROFILER remote spectrum monitoring system. Deviser’s DS1620 SpectrumPROFILER remote spectrum monitoring system significantly reduces the time, cost and complexity associated with the standard approach of detecting, identifying and removing interference signals originating from licensed or unlicensed communications systems. This enables mission-critical operators to eliminate signal interference in a matter of hours rather than weeks, while simultaneously improving overall service reliability and customer satisfaction.
The SP4704 is externally mounted and covers frequency range from 698 to 960 MHz, weighs less than 7 pounds and provides high gain and high front-to-back ratio giving users excellent performance and increased signal strength. The SP4704 is directionally controlled by the DS1620 System to detect and locate signal interference. Norsat worked closely with Deviser to develop and customize the SP4704 high performance antenna to meet their unique specifications. Click here for more information on the SP4704 narrow beam directional pole mount panel antenna.
When speaking with Mike Tolaio, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Deviser Instruments Inc, he quoted, “We are pleased to partner with Norsat’s Sinclair division to provide this high performance signal monitoring system for mission-critical applications. Norsat’s reputation in the industry for quality products, and their willingness to work with us on this system was a key factor in our decision to choose Norsat.” says Mike Tolaio.
About Deviser Instruments
Headquartered in San Jose, California, Deviser Instruments brings an extensive portfolio of innovative, high-quality, value-packed test and measurement solutions to communications service providers and equipment manufacturers worldwide. For more than 25 years, communications service providers have relied upon Deviser’s products to deliver reliable, high-performance cable, satellite, wireless, fiber optic and telecommunications services to their customers. Over the last 12 years, Deviser has been an OEM supplier of test equipment to tier 1 communications service providers in North and South America.
On a recent trip to New York, Norsat’s Manager of Marketing Communications, Annette Colligan, spotted one of Norsat’s Low Noise Block downconverters (LNBs) on an AVL Technologies satellite antenna on top of a New England news truck at Yankee Stadium. The 1000 series LNB receives a signal from a satellite in the sky, converts it to a lower frequency, and then sends the signals to a modem inside the truck, all part of the two way communications between the sporting event and your television.
For years Norsat has been providing LNBs, amplifiers, and satellite terminals for satellite newsgathering (SNG) applications worldwide. When chatting with the ground team from the news truck, the tech said that they have had the Norsat LNB for over ten years. This is just another testament to the quality of the Norsat product line.
For more information on Norsat’s high quality microwave components go to: http://www.norsat.com/solutions/microwave-products/
Norsat became the official satellite service provider for FNESS in 2011, serving the 17 First Nations communities involved in the program. Prior to Norsat’s involvement, the infrastructure for satellite connectivity lacked a long term service provider , however, since 2011, over 2300 residents have been given broadband internet access, which they use for social connectivity, health care, education, emergency services and more.
The First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of British Columbia (FNESS) is incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia with a mission to assist First Nations in developing and sustaining safer and healthier communities through a variety of programs and services, including round 2 of the National Satellite Initiative (NSIR2). The NSIR2 program brings satellite (C-band) broadband internet connectivity to members of remote First Nations communities, and in 2008 FNESS successfully bid to manage the project. FNESS works in collaboration with the First Nations Technology Council (FNTC), to ensure that the NSIR2 program will provide internet access to First Nations communities for years to come.
Many of BC’s First Nations communities are located in remote areas, which lack access to terrestrial communications networks. Residents of these communities often need to travel at least 90 minutes to reach the nearest city and for many, access is only available via boat or airplane, making the journey long and often difficult. The physical distance and lack of connectivity leaves these communities without access to essential emergency services, health care, educational resources, and everyday communications.
To mitigate this problem, FNESS required a communication solution that would improve the quality of life for residents by giving all remotely located communities a high-speed broadband internet connection. They needed this solution to be implemented quickly to maintain connectivity, while remaining scalable so that it could be extended to additional communities as needed in the future. They needed a connection that was reliable enough to serve as the sole source of access to emergency services, health care, education and commerce. FNESS also required training and support for the communities involved so that sense of network ownership could be established and maintained.
Norsat worked to meet the project requirements of FNESS through four major activities:
- Network design and implementation
- Equipment installation and maintenance
- Connectivity expansion and improvement
- Community support and training
Norsat consulted with FNESS, and the residents of these communities to design a satellite communication network that would provide consistent broadband internet connectivity to meet all of their requirements. The network was designed to be easily operated and maintained, but can also be extended to include new locations. Additionally, the reliability and quality of the network was designed to enable faster connections and video conferencing capabilities.
In order to set up internet access as soon as possible, Norsat immediately sent a crew of six technicians in three teams to visit all 17 communities and establish a new satellite network within the existing infrastructure. The Norsat team installed modern gateway servers with firewall protection, caching capabilities and Ethernet switches. The newly installed equipment can be remotely administrated and monitored, which allows the team to check system status and perform maintenance from external locations. Each home and office was equipped with a receiver unit, which provides residents with a local internet connection. The network gives each community between one and six wireless access points, and a gateway server which provides a security firewall and improves performance with caching for all houses and offices within these communities.
After establishing the integrity and longevity of the satellite network, Norsat began to focus on expansion and support for the project. Through a second round of site visits, Norsat installed complete video conferencing solutions in 10 communities. The package includes conferencing equipment, new 40 Watt BUCs (Block Upconverters), TVs, and cameras. Additionally, 49 new homes and offices were equipped with receiver units, enabling more community residents to gain broadband internet access.
Throughout the project, Norsat provided end to end support for the communities involved, with a dedicated customer service representative, regular site visits, and technical telephone support. Norsat regularly monitors the performance of the access points and gateway servers, performing preventive maintenance and routine service as needed. Norsat also manages bandwidth ensure fair allocation between the communities and prevent bottlenecks. Additionally, Norsat created the FNESS user portal, a website that provides a space for community members to access information, discuss problems or successes, and post responses.
In November 2011, Norsat arranged a multi-day training session in their Richmond office, and invited 27 community technicians and representatives to participate in a 2-day session. Attendees learned how to operate the satellite terminals and perform basic trouble shooting and maintenance of the community network. Basic adjustments and maintenance tasks can now be completed by people living right in the community. Norsat continues to be actively involved in maintaining the communication system in top condition.
Each of the 17 communities involved in the program now has a broadband internet access point and every home and office has a receiver unit, enabling the 2300 residents of these communities to access the internet quickly and easily. The network infrastructure is continuously updated and maintained by Norsat’s dedicated customer service engineers and the Company remains committed to training new community members in satellite terminal operation so that community technicians can perform basic maintenance. The newly installed remote administration capability enables the Norsat support team to not only respond quickly when problems arise, but actually perform preventive maintenance to fix problems before they occur. The network has resulted in improvements to emergency services, health care, education, commercial activity and social connectivity as described below.
Access to emergency services has improved dramatically since network installation, representing a breakthrough for communities without telephone access. In these communities, 911 phone calls can now be placed through internet based tools such as Skype, and the time for ambulance arrival has decreased from up to three hours to approximately one hour. This improvement is due mainly to an ability to place emergency calls without lengthy travel time. Since implementation of the network, community members now access emergency services in response to a variety of emergency health problems, and receive treatment and advice faster than previously possible. In some communities, early warning for disasters, such as storms or earthquakes can be rapidly communicated using email or social networking. Community emergency plans can now be utilized through outside communications.
Emergency Services Success Stories
- When a 17 year old member of a remote community began experiencing unexpected seizure-like symptoms, his concerned family used Skype to phone a health care professional. The medical representative was able to provide explanations of the symptoms, advice for immediate treatment, and then follow up by arranging a doctor’s visit. Following this visit, regular online communication with health care professionals was established to monitor the condition of the patient . Thanks to the quick reaction of his family and subsequent treatment, no long term symptoms are expected
- During a site visit, a health care professional sustained a serious bump to the head and a concussion was suspected. An emergency phone call was made to 911, again using Skype, and the emergency representative was able to quickly provide first aid advice and guidance for treatment. Through the quick response time of the community members present and the 911 operator, no long term harm came to the patient.
- During heavy spring rains, a serious risk of flooding arose and communities used video conference equipment to remotely meet with the community emergency team, discuss the plan of action, solidify as a team, and ultimately take action to mitigate flooding risks. Video conferencing and internet connectivity was essential to ensuring these actions were taken in a timely manner, and communicated to the relevant parties.
Residents are now able to benefit from new health care resources through Internet access and video conferencing equipment. Some community members use the video equipment to connect directly their health care provider, obtaining early diagnoses for improved health outcomes. Video based medicine has the added advantage of reducing the cost and health risks associated with travelling distances for medical advice. Other community members use the video conferencing systems to participate in public health forums, which provide information and real time responses to health care problems and questions, and still others find internet research invaluable as a source of information about health, nutrition and diet related issues.
Most communities receive regular visits from health care professionals, who take advantage of the internet to improve the timeliness and quality of patient care. Many doctors and nurses take notes on laptop computers while visiting patients and send this information back to their offices immediately after visits, maintaining connectivity with their office throughout visits. Many also send prescriptions directly to pharmacies directly at the point of patient visit, providing medicine faster than previously possible. Even the scheduling of medical visits has improved through Internet access as community administrators now post Health Care Representative visiting schedules online through facebook and email.
- Nutritious Food Options. When one community noted their lack of healthy food choices, they used the Internet to research options for healthier eating. They found a suitable option for a fruit and vegetable delivery service that provides nutritious food options in locations where these items are difficult to purchase, and registered for the program. They then conducted further research to successfully bid for government funding for the program, and now manage regular deliveries through the online interface.
- Water Quality Monitoring. Ensuring well water is safe to drink is essential for community health, and most communities participate in the Safety Drinking Water program. Trained community technicians take water samples, conduct simple tests, and use an online interface to communicate with the treatment facility and rapidly obtain results and advice. On at least one occasion, negative water quality results were noted, and the affected community notified immediately. This quick response time prevented potentially serious or life-threatening cases of waterborne illness.
Access to educational resources has broadened with network installation. Popular UBC Learning Circles are broadcast through video conferencing software on topics ranging from bullying to addiction, and attendance ranges up to 80 people for a single community. Learning Circles provide an opportunity for community members to openly discuss solutions to common problems, and the sessions are a great way to increase awareness of difficult issues. Session topics can be chosen by participants, who communicate with organizers online to influence the topics presented.
Students are major beneficiaries of new educational resources. Many communities have established learning centres in their schools, featuring a bank of several internet enabled computers. These centres are used to conduct research for projects, complete assignments and in many cases, submit coursework online. Online assignment submission makes it easier for students keep up with work during bad weather, and enables faster feedback from teachers. Students also use the learning centres for extra –curricular educational activities like studying for learners permits or driving exams. Adult educational access has also improved and many residents are now embarking on higher education programs and learning new skills, which can be used to further their careers.
Although students remain the major users of educational internet resources, a growing number of adults are also taking advantage of the convenience and flexibility the internet can bring to continuing education.
- Safety Certification. Some adults have used the internet to receive safety certifications including WHMIS (Workplaces Hazardous Materials Information Systems) and ICS 100 (Incident & Command Systems), gaining a workplace advantage without travelling long distances to the nearest city to complete the certification
- Skills upgrade. Online education makes going back to school a realistic possibility for adults, many of whom take advantage of online classes to complete high school diplomas or post-secondary certificates
- Education for pleasure. Community members are now learning new skills online simply for pleasure. Popular topics include free-lance writing, social development and small vessel boat operation.
Business and Commercial
With the nearest town often over 90 km away, residents of remote communities can be at a disadvantage conducting business due to difficult weather, transportation, time commitments and safety issues. Through the NSIR2 network communities can now engage in inter-band business as well as commercial activities through email and video resources. Most band offices take advantage of the network to broadcast community messages through email, facebook or other social media outlets, and many use video conferencing to discuss policy and budgets, share documents, and hold inter-band meetings. Many small businesses operating in these communities take advantage of the Internet to run debit and credit card machines, pay bills online, and send emails.
Online Tourism comes to the West Coast Trail
Ditidaht nation is pursuing an exciting opportunity for revenue generation through tourism to beautiful BC. The nation, which owns property along Vancouver Island’s popular West Coast Trail, has used the land to construct a series of comfortable campsites complete with canvas tents, cooking facilities and recreational options like fishing and boating. Despite using only word of mouth for promotion, the endeavor received over 60 bookings in its first year, and the organizers decided to tap into the enormous growth potential the business could realize through an online presence. The nation has registered a website (www.westcoasttrail.com) and developed an online booking system for the campsites, which they anticipate will be popular with weekend visitors from nearby Victoria and Vancouver. Through the new website, the nation hopes to eventually increase the number of campsites available, offer a variety of package options to visitors, and increase recreational activities. Internet access from Ditidaht nation will be essential to the long term success of this project, which has the potential to provide employment and revenue to residents of the community.
Social Connectivity and Well being
Certainly the most common use of internet in these communities, and arguably the most valuable, has been for convenience, pleasure and social connectivity using email, Facebook, Skype, Google and other internet resources. Day to day practicalities are also now more convenient as many people take advantage of online banking and bill paying to organize their finances.
The internet has proven to be a powerful troubleshooting resource for many communities. For example, on one occasion phone service unexpectedly became unavailable in many communities. These communities were able to set up meetings and communicate with service providers to coordinate problem resolution online rather than travelling into the nearest city. Likewise, when the power went out at a Water Treatment facility, community technicians contacted the help desk online, and the customer support team was able to turn on a generator to keep service running. A remote training session was then conducted online, educating the community technicians on the correct procedure for handling problems of that nature in the future.
Communication linkages taken for granted by urban dwellers are relatively new in BC’s remote First Nations, but have rapidly become a part of community life. Many community residents now indicate that the Internet is integral for their day to day activities and find it hard to imagine a future without it. Common uses of internet for pleasure include the use of search engines for news and research, video chatting with remotely located family members, and emailing to stay in touch.
Opportunities for the Future
The NSIR2 program has had a positive impact on the community members involved; however, as broadband internet is increasingly viewed as an essential service, we remain aware that opportunities for expansion and improvement exist. The NSIR2 network was designed to meet the current needs of the 17 communities involved, but as communities grow, there is an opportunity to invest in increased bandwidth to add in new communities and increase connection speeds for existing communities.
Training programs are essential to ensure that communities have at least one trained technician on site to maintain the community network and satellite terminals. In some communities, the nearest technician is externally located and when connectivity problems arise, communities are forced to wait hours or even days for assistance. As trained community members move or are unable to remain in their position as technician, training for new technicians will maintain a sense of system ownership within the community and ensure continuous connectivity.
Through the NSIR2 network, many community members now have access to the Internet for the first time, and without appropriate training, may be exposed to the risks inherent to this new resource. Online bullying has become a problem for some communities and a few residents have fallen victim to online scams. Without education, some community members are frustrated by the vastness of the Internet, and don’t maximize their use of the tool. Educational programs that shed light on the dark side of the internet and provide assistance in navigating the many resources available will be an important to ensure communities takes full advantage of the health, education and communication resources provided by Internet access.
Finally, many more of BC’s First Nations community members still lack internet and computer access entirely. Extending network services and increasing access to computers is essential to ensuring BC’s First Nations have the same advantages as their urban counterparts. As new buildings are constructed in the 17 NSIR2 communities, network expansion will provide access to these new homes and offices. For other communities without internet access, the expansion of the NSIR2 network into new locations has the potential to provide dramatic safety and quality of life improvements. Norsat is committed to working with FNESS and FNTC to find solutions that provide improved broadband internet access for First Nations Communities.
FNESS is funded under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund and funding for the NSIR2 project will continue to flow until 2014. FNESS works in partnership with the First Nations’ Technology Council (FNTC), who provide technical and project management expertise to facilitate longevity and community technical planning with all of the NSIR2 Communities so that they may continue to receive internet service beyond 2014. Norsat is proud to work alongside FNESS, FNTC, Infrastructure Canada and BC’s First Nations Communities to provide broadband internet connectivity. For more information about this and other remote connectivity projects, please contact us
Norsat has provided high quality Satellite News Gathering Equipment and services to CTV, Canada’s largest private broadcaster, since 2006. Prior to working with Norsat, CTV used a combination of Satellite News Trucks and low bandwidth satellite terminals to cover Canada’s international and domestic news events, however they lacked a solution that could be easily transported overseas, provide live broadcast capabilities anywhere in the world, and reduce operating expenses.
Using Norsat’s NewsLink™ satellite fly-away terminals, CTV has been able to broadcast important breaking news events from Afghanistan and across Canada to millions of viewers around the world Background CTV is Canada’s largest private broadcaster, providing an excellent range of news, sports, and entertainment programming. Owned by Bell Media, CTV has been the most-watched television network in Canada for nine consecutive years. CTV broadcasts news from around the world and has a critical need to supply up to date, broadcast quality news to the more than 25 million viewers who watch the network each week
Prior to Norsat’s involvement, CTV used low bandwidth satellite data terminals to uplink stories produced by their correspondents who were covering Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Submitting a single two to three minute story often took eight or nine hours, and incurred significant satellite airtime charges. The legacy system also did not have the bandwidth required to perform live interviews with acceptable video quality.
Due to the ongoing expense and lack of flexibility of this system, CTV searched for a solution that would provide the ability to send live broadcast-quality video, reduce their operating expenses, and remain easy to use, so the network could avoid sending broadcast engineer into crisis situations. The solution had to be transportable, rugged, and reliable enough to operate for several years in the challenging environment of Kandahar. The critical time scales for breaking news coverage also necessitated that the solution be supported by a technical support team who would provide 24x7x365 troubleshooting and assistance to ensure that the broadcast team never missed a story. Additionally, CTV was looking for a rental option to provide supplemental coverage when other systems were unavailable.
After a consultation with CTV on their needs and applications, Norsat proposed a 1m lightweight carbon fibre 25 Watt NewsLink™ Satellite News Gathering Flyaway System, which was purchased in 2006. Norsat provided operational training for the broadcast team and following training, the system was hand carried to Kandahar, where it was used to cover the Canadian troop deployment to Afghanistan. Over the next five years, the NewsLink fly-away was used heavily by the Canadian press pool for satellite news gathering and broadcast. In the spring of 2011, Norsat remotely upgraded the terminal at CTV’s request with an SDI (BNC) digital video input with embedded audio to the MPEG-2 encoder, to enable a full digital path for both audio and video.
In 2010, one of CTV’s Satellite News Trucks was critically damaged after covering a major news event in British Columbia. As this was their only satellite truck in western Canada, CTV urgently needed a solution that would fill in for the satellite truck while it was being repaired and upgraded. Following this urgent request, Norsat was able to provide another NewsLink portable terminal on short notice to meet their specifications and needs. The system was provided on a flexible rental contract to facilitate rapid deployment and enabled CTV to continue their coverage of breaking news events without significant interruption. The unit remained in use for a further four months while the satellite truck was repaired and during that time it provided news contribution capabilities to all of Western Canada. Norsat continues to provide temporary SNG flyaway rental terminals for CTV and other broadcasters as needed to support short term requirements
In 2011, following the completion of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, the original NewsLink flyaway system was shipped back to Norsat’s Vancouver facilities where it was refurbished and upgraded to support full HD. The original 25W NewsLink was rebuilt with an 80W SSPA and an MPEG4/DVB-S2 encoder/modulator to enable full High Definition capabilities. The upgraded NewsLink fly-away system was subsequently used to cover a variety of Canadian political news events in HD quality broadcast, including elections in BC and Alberta.
Norsat’s NewsLink™ SNG fly-away terminal provided the rugged, portable, cost effective solution CTV needed. The terminal was easily airline portable, enabling CTV to send it on location to Kandahar, where it was used as a primary news gathering and broadcast link for the Canadian press corps for five full years. The portability of the unit reduced CTV’s reliance on Satellite News trucks, reducing the cost associated with broadcasting from remote locations, and providing a return on investment very quickly. The NewsLink flyaway enabled CTV to provide live broadcast quality coverage, and reduced the operating expenses via lowered access fees. The durability and reliability of the terminal was clearly evident as it remained in excellent operational form during deployment in Kandahar, requiring very little maintenance and ensuring high quality news feed for Canadian broadcasters.
The NewsLink flyaway terminal was scalable and easily upgraded as CTV’s needs changed. The terminal was adjusted remotely to enable digital audio while on location in Kandahar, and eventually upgraded to enable HD broadcast. Norsat can continue to modify or upgrade the terminal as needed.
Norsat’s quick response to CTV’s emergency satellite terminal needs enabled the network to continue covering important breaking news across Western Canada. When the network’s satellite news truck was damaged in 2010, this was their only available method of broadcast and Norsat’s quick provision, setup and service of a rental NewsLink flyaway was essential for Western Canadian news coverage during the truck’s repair. The rapid deployment, ease of use and cost effectiveness of this rental led CTV to continue to their use of Norsat’s rental service in the following months, and Norsat continues to provide satellite terminal rentals to cover a variety of Canadian events such as festivals and concerts.
The Norsat support team has been available to CTV on a 24x7x365 basis to provide trouble-shooting and operational support, ensuring every broadcast is timely and successful. Additionally, Norsat’s thorough training of CTV’s broadcast team enables team members to successfully operate and maintain the unit in the field, and removes the need to send broadcast engineers into dangerous situations.
“We have already put this [NewsLink] unit through the harshest test of service in Kandahar and if its performance there was any indication we will be on the air from, well anywhere, for years to come.”
Dave Alexander, ENG Operations Manager, CTV
For more information about Norsat’s Satellite News Gathering terminals, including lease and rental options, please click here.
CTV is Canada’s largest private broadcaster, offering a wide range of leading news, sports, and entertainment programming. It has the #1 national newscast, CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme, and broadcasts the top-ranked local newscasts in 11 of the 12 major Canadian markets, reaching more than 25 million viewers each week. CTV is also the #1 choice for prime-time viewing, and has been the most-watched television network in Canada for the past nine consecutive years.
CTV is a division of Bell Media, Canada’s premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital. With passion and an unrelenting commitment to excellence, Bell Media entertains, informs and inspires Canadians. Bell Media owns 28 conventional stations, including CTV, Canada’s#1 television network and lead broadcaster of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and owns and operates 29 specialty channels, including TSN, Canada’s #1 specialty channel and RDS, Canada’s #1 French-language specialty channel. Bell Media also owns 33 radio stations, dozens of websites including the Sympatico. ca portal, and Dome Productions Inc. Bell Media is owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE), Canada’s largest communications company. For more on Bell Media, please visit www.bellmedia.ca.
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.
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.