Tags: satellite

Modern Military Communications Discussed at Milcom 2016

Posted on Tuesday, November 15

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Norsat’s US Sales team hosted many guests both military and civilian at Norsat’s booth at the 35th annual Milcom show November 1-3 in Baltimore, Maryland. Co-hosted by AFCEA International and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), MILCOM continues to be the premier international conference for military communications and is the one conference where command, control and communication challenges are presented and discussed end to end – from research and development through existing solutions to future needs.

The theme for the 2016 show was “Securing Communications at the Speed of Cyber” and offered visitors the opportunity to understand the breadth of requirements, the pace of change and the state of play in a variety of C4I markets serving DOD, as well as federal agencies and multi-national entities.

One of the keynotes delivered by Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, USA, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) discussed that cybersecurity is an important part of the future of warfighting. When he talked about where we are going in Cyber Defense, Mobility and Innovation, reducing SWAP (size, weight and power) for the warfighter was a highlighted theme.

Maj. Gen. Earl Matthews, USAF, (Ret.), former director of cyberspace operations and chief information security officer for the Air Force and now vice president for Enterprise Security Solutions, U.S. public sector, Hewlett Packard Enterprise stated, “With technology developing at what seems like warp speed, new systems will have a higher data processing capacity and greater speed and be able to leverage greater bandwidth. These systems are going to have to be prepared to change frequency dependencies … because this is the place they are going to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum. Physical maneuvers exists in cyberspace.”

At the show, Norsat showcased our GlobeTrekker 2.0, the world’s most intelligent fly-away satellite terminal and the ultra-portable, rapidly deployable Ranger terminal, along with our industry leading size, weight and power ATOM series of Block Upconverters (BUCs) and Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs). Norsat’s products come in various frequency bands and address some of the overall themes presented throughout the 3 days conference. Overall the show was successful for Norsat and we look forward to participating in the Milcom 2017 show and other future AFCEA events and programs.

milcom-booth-_afcea-photoPhoto courtesy of and copyright
Michael Carpenter Photography

Norsat Exhibits at Premier Event for Satellite Communications

Posted on Friday, March 11

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The 35th anniversary Satellite show held at the Gaylord National Convention Center did not disappoint. With over 350 exhibitors, and +13,000 attendees, the show was a buzz with the latest discussions on the continued strength, importance and relevance of space-based solutions in the worldwide telecommunications infrastructure. Bringing together market leading companies presenting the latest technologies and solutions that are transforming the way we live, work and interact on a global scale.

The Satellite show is an excellent venue for Norsat  to connect with some of our key customers and business partners to discuss opportunities and issues facing the satellite communications marketplace, as well as showcase some of our leading products and technology.

At Norsat’s booth, we were highlighting two of our portable satellite terminals. The new Journey Manpack, single case, low weight, backpackable solution saw a ton of interest!  Small size and weight continues to be a prime requirement for military and commercial customers. Norsat also featured our GLOBETrekker 2.0 terminal a feature rich, auto-acquire fly-away satellite terminal.image1

Norsat’s ATOM series of BUCs and SSPAs continue to dominate the size, weight and power efficiency wars with customers attesting to the advantages this brings them for their terminals. During the show Norsat announced its latest addition to the ATOM series, the ATOM 250 watt Ku-band BUC and SSPA. Read more here!

On the Move terminals are continuing to gain momentum. Good news for Norsat’s ATOM BUCs that give the size weight and power efficiency COTM needs, but also has the military certifications required for the applications, including EMI/EMC, shock, and vibration.

O3b Networks, named Satellite Operator of the Year in the 2015 Via Satellite Excellence awards, was a key topic of discussion at the show which bodes well for Norsat as we offer both single and dual-band O3b LNBs and BUCs that are certified by O3b.

Overall the show was a success for our team and we look forward to heading back to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center next March for Satellite 2017!

Norsat in Full Force at Premier International Conference for Military Communications

Posted on Friday, November 6

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Norsat participated in the 34th annual Milcom 2015 show last week in Tampa, Florida. Milcom is the premier international conference for military communications. “Leveraging Technology – The Joint Imperative” was the theme for this year’s event and there was no shortage of interesting and educational keynotes, panels and technical sessions that explored and defined the benefits that joint-level collaboration brings to current and future communication challenges and addressed the critical role communications plays in military readiness and operations.

The Tampa location is ideal for this discussion, with close proximity to the MacDill Air Force Base military community, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the 6th Air Mobility Wing. MILCOM offers industry the opportunity to discuss communications technologies and services with decision makers from all branches of the armed forces, the Department of Defense, federal agencies and multinational forces.

Norsat’s satellite sales team was in full force showcasing several of our top satellite communications solutions: GlobeTrekker 2.0, the world’s most intelligent fly-away satellite terminal; Rover, Norsat’s ultra-lightweight fly-away satellite terminal; CFK-100E compact fly-away kit; CFK-4200 Emergency Communications Kit; and the ATOM series of Block Upconverters (BUCs) and Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs). Norsat was excited to talk to customers and saw considerable interest from customers on our new low Ku-band BUCs designed for use with the FSS Appendix 30B satellite links.IMG_6537

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During the show, Norsat met up with Ken Murphy at the iDirect social event on Tuesday night. Ken was a long-term Norsat portable terminal customer that has now moved on to work for Comtech as their Director of Government Programs. Ken was working in Belgium when his teams deployed Norsat’s 1.8m and 2.4m SigmaLink terminals and 1m compact Rover terminals for allied forces in the region. It was great to catch up with Ken and we wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Quantico Marine Corps Base Hosts Key Event for Military Contractors

Posted on Tuesday, September 29

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Norsat has just returned from the Modern Day Marine expo at the Marine Corps Base, in Quantico, VA. Norsat showcased the GlobeTrekker 2.0 intelligent fly-away satellite terminal, our Ranger Ku/X Band 60cm self-contained, microsat terminal, CFK-100E SIPR/NIPR Compact Flyaway Kit, CFK-4200 Emergency Communications Kit for mobile, first-in communications and the ATOM series of BUCs and SSPAs.

Modern Day Marine is co-sponsored by Marine Corps Base, Quantico, the Exposition’s home base. MCB Quantico, home to the Combat Development Command and the Marine Corps Systems Command, is responsible for setting requirements, developing equipment and systems and purchasing the equipment and systems that the Marine Corps will rely on in the years to come. Modern Day Marine is a forum for defense contractors to display, inform and promote the latest products in defense equipment and technology. The expo, also allows industry leaders the opportunity to discuss important and emerging issues and concepts that affect the Marine Corps. These vital and unique functions play a large part in positioning Modern Day Marine as the premier military equipment, systems, services and technology exposition.

One of the major themes for this year’s event was the need for innovation!  During a panel presentation for industry, Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, assistant deputy commandant for installations and logistics said, “The Marine Corps needs to embrace innovation, not only in terms of equipment, but in its thinking.” He called upon the defense industry to look beyond traditional methods to help the Marine Corps adapt.

As quoted in Defense News (http://www.defensenews.com) “The Corps’ 10-year road map predicts that Marines will be conducting crisis response missions that could leave small teams of Marines deployed independently for weeks at a time,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, who recently took the helm of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “Technology is what allows squads to operate independently over large swaths of land, giving radio communications in Afghanistan as an example. If those small units had not had the ability to call for fires, support and medical evacuations, we would not have put them out there,” he said.

“We think these forces are going to be operating in distributed, often dismounted in complex urban terrain,” said Col. Roger Turner, office of the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps for plans, policy and operations with Headquarters Marine Corps at the Pentagon, during the industry panel. “And anything we can do to lighten the load on individual Marines and sailors out there is critical.”

This bodes well for Norsat, as our portable terminals and man-packable systems are a perfect fit to meet the needs of the Marine Corps, as well as other military services and Special Forces.

For more information about the satellite solutions that Norsat had on display visit our website at http://www.norsat.com/solutions/satellite-solutions/

(photos courtesy of Modern Day Marine)

The Celebration of Satellite – A Satellite 2015 Retrospective

Posted on Wednesday, March 25

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IMG_1267Here it is the end of March, and another Satellite Show has come and gone. This year’s conference was great! We met with many of our customers, connected with colleagues, and made some new friends. We have not seen the final numbers, but the show seemed to be well attended – the Norsat booth was VERY busy; we had a steady stream of visitors. At times they were even lining up to talk with us! Most of the other exhibitors seemed to be enjoying good traffic as well – the exhibit hall was a hive of activity (especially around happy hour). The sessions were well attended and were filled
with interesting dialogue and discussions. A good time seemed to be had by all.

On the technology front there was a lot of interest in Ka-band uptake; in particular around O3b, Kymeta and WGS, as well as with the availability of new terminals. Comms-on-the-Move discussions focused on multi-band, lower profiles and airborne. As with previous years, there was a great deal of discussion around HTS – whatever your definition.

With all of the positives, one thing that we found lacking was the edgy buzz that comes from truly original and exciting products and ideas (except, of course for Norsat’s very small, light-weight and power efficient ATOM Ka-band BUC!). Don’t get us wrong, there were a lot of new products on offer, but at least for the ground segment it was mainly additions to existing product lines or expansions into existing territories rather than fresh and novel solutions. Perhaps this is a testament to the maturity of the satellite industry – all of the significant problems have been solved as efficiently and effectively as they can be. Or perhaps we are making an unfair comparison to the overall technology industry where new ideas and solutions pop up with dizzying speed. But we believe there is opportunity to bring excitement back to our industry. The theme of Satellite 2016 is “Innovation”. The gauntlet has been thrown down. We look forward to seeing who will take up the challenge, and what new wonders we may see next March!

CommunicAsia 2013 Summary

Posted on Friday, June 21

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CommunicAsia 2013 has drawn to a close, and this year has proven to be a success. We enjoyed seeing some new faces and catching up with customers and partners. This trade show gave us the chance to show off our newest products and gave us some great insight into what’s around the corner for our industry.

We also had the chance to showcase our 60 cm RANGER microsat terminal which was well received by integrators who were looking for an easy to use, ruggedized, and portable solution. In addition, we had our new ATOM series of lightweight, high performance BUCs on display which attracted quite a lot of attention from visitors wanting to know more about these small but powerful block up converters. We look forward to the official release and the future development of this line.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and for the positive feedback- it’s always great to catch up! Don’t forget to keep in touch : http://www.norsat.com/contact-us/.

 

Introducing the Ranger 45 and 60cm Assisted Acquire Terminals

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Ranger 60cm Assisted-Acquire Terminal

Norsat’s Ranger Series of terminals are assisted-acquire microsat terminals featuring industry leading portability, rapid deployment and an easy-to-use interface. With a tool-free assembly platform and airline transportable packaging, the Ranger can easily be transported and deployed in less than 5 minutes.  An intuitive GUI enables remote system monitoring from anywhere in the world via any standard web browser. Ranger terminals feature self-contained battery packs, and have been ruggedized for harsh weather and environmental conditions, making them ideal for mission critical communications anywhere in the world. Ranger terminals are available in antenna sizes of 45 and 60 cm.

The Ranger series offers:

  • High performance
  • Norsat’s “Easy Acquire” Assistant. No tools or instructions are required for satellite acquisition
  • Multi-band capable
  • IATA compliant and airline checkable
  • MIL-STD-810 tested. The Ranger terminals are ruggedized for use in harsh weather
  • Battery powered. Supports up to 2 hours of uninterrupted use without a power source
  • Thermal design analysis and testing to operate in extreme conditions
  • Built-in LCD and keypad interface for easy-to-use pointing and operations without a laptop

To find out more about our Ranger series of terminals,

contact us at: http://www.norsat.com/contact-us/

USB Recovery: Don’t Be Left in the Dark!

Posted on Tuesday, May 21

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We all know that despite our best laid plans, sometimes things can go wrong. Read the following scenarios to find you why you should have USB recovery! 

You find yourself on the graveyard shift all alone. It’s the middle of the night so you decide to learn more about your satellite system. After opening up its GUI, you spend some time exploring the various options and tabs. Unexpectedly, the system crashes. You retrace your steps, wondering which button you could have pressed or where you went wrong. You restart the system and attempt to find the correct profile- but you can’t remember what it was. What do you do in this situation?

 You were required to send your terminal ahead of your field force. Although the depot is secure, it is possible that someone could access your system and discover which satellites you are utilizing and at which frequencies. For security reasons, you ship them set to their factory defaults and rely on your field force to program them upon arrival on site. They have been trained and they have instructions, but their arrival has been delayed. The communications are needed now so you will have to remotely train whoever is available. Shouldn’t there be a better way?

 You must add another profile and configuration to all 20 of your systems. How do you ensure that they are configured rapidly, effectively and consistently across the board?

Answer: USB Recovery!

USB Recovery acts as your personal technical support resource which will set up, repair or reconfigure your system. It allows you to reset your system to your own unique default settings. USB recovery ensures that the right profiles are loaded into your terminal and that the system is configured correctly each time, eliminating human error.

Norsat’s USB Recovery feature is standard on GlobeTrekker and Rover terminals. Simple to use, this feature gives you confidence that your terminals can be deployed and configured to your specifications.

CASE STUDY: Broadband Internet Connectivity for BC’s First Nations

Posted on Monday, May 6

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FNESS Case Study

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.

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Background

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.

Problem

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.

Solution

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.

Tak La Lake 2Throughout 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.

Results

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.

Emergency Services

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.

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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.

Health Care

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.

Healthy Initiatives

  • 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.

Education

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 adVIdeo conferencing demodiction, 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.

Adult Education

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.

Organizational Information

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

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CASE STUDY: Satellite Newsgathering for CTV

Posted on Wednesday, May 1

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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

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Problem

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.

Solution

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.

CTV 005In 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.

Results

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.

About CTV

Ctv_logoCTV 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.

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