Photo courtesy of C-COM
Antenna technology is constantly evolving, becoming physically more portable, easier to use and
more intelligent. Satellite Evolution looks at some of the antenna systems available in the market
today that meet portability, on-the-move and satellite acquisition requirements.
Years ago, the satellite antenna was a clumsy thing. They were pack away into small, airline checkable flight cases. The antenna
heavy, difficult – or often impossible - to transport, and requiring the and its associated equipment also meet IATA baggage and weight
expertise of a technician to operate and acquire the satellite. Satel- regulations. Other antenna systems simply fit into just one case, some
lite communications were not the easiest to achieve. Fast forward a with no need for assembly.
couple of decades and things couldn’t be more different. If you re- When it comes to the assembly of the antennas, they are quick
quire an antenna to transport to the Amazon to deploy for a news and easy to deploy, in some cases taking just minutes. Operation is
item, there is an antenna to meet your requirements. Do you need also simple. A great many antenna systems today do not require
an antenna to view TV on the move? There is an antenna for you. Is specialist teams to operate them and to find the correct azimuth in
your requirement for an antenna that can be packed into a small order to reach the satellite – this happens at the touch of a button.
container and fits airline baggage restrictions. Yes, there is one out These are just a few of the fundamental aspects of antenna manu-
there for you. facture and usage that have evolved and made the deployment of
Antenna design now meets our every need, whether that is for satellite-based services possible anywhere and by non-specialists.
commercial, the consumer, government or military purposes. Physi- These antenna systems are invaluable to the military and other gov-
cally, the antenna of today is very lightweight, often constructed of ernment agencies, to satellite newsgathering, and to humanitarian
material such as carbon fibre. The actual dish can also formed of organisations. They are also more cost efficient, a very important
several different parts that are fitted together in order to construct. factor in today’s market when countries such as China are making
This makes the dish much more portable, able to break down and the acquisition of satellite communications compulsory in order to
12 www.satellite-evolution.com | May/June 2010
deal with potential natural disasters. pointing and auto peaking, and rugged military-ready construction.
Antenna manufacturers are coming up with more and more in- Combined, these features create a terminal that sets a new industry
genious ways of making antennas smaller, more hardy against hos- standard for high-performance mobile communications solutions and
tile conditions, finding new materials to build them with, looking at enables users to easily and reliably communicate beyond the net-
technology that can make them stealthier yet ensure high perform- work edge.
ance, easy to maintain - the list of considerations goes on. Let’s take The CommuniCase technology has been a stalwart of portable
a look at the features that end users of antenna equipment are look- satellite technology since its introduction and was a response to the
ing for, and the antenna systems that meet their requirements. needs of organisations that require both speed and mobility in
SWE-DISH by Rockwell Collins introduced the CommuniCase Tech- GigaSat
nology (CCT) back in 2007. CommuniCase enables broadcasters, GigaSat has produced the World’s first IP suitcase system which
military personnel and emergency first responders to easily inter- truly meets all current IATA regulations for hand baggage on a com-
change parts, such as integrated modems, and improve flexibility. mercial aircraft.
The Suitcase CCT90 represents the next generation of ultra-port- The GigaSat MicroSat terminal when packed has been designed
able terminals following the success of SWE-DISH’s IPT Suitcase. specifically to fall within the outside dimensions stipulated by British
The IPT Suitcase has earned high praise from military and govern- Airways and other international airlines for hand baggage, at the same
ment organisations throughout the world, including military opera- time weighing less than 20kg.
tors in conflict areas and disaster relief organizations responding to The system owes its remarkable light weight and compact di-
Hurricane Katrina in the US and the tsunami that struck Asia in 2004. mensions to an innovative folding flat panel antenna.
What sets the Suitcase CCT90 apart from other products on the The system was initially offered in X-band only with SCPC and
market is CommuniCase Technology’s common modular system ar- spread spectrum IP modem options, clearly aimed at military appli-
chitecture. With its slide-in cassette, the integrated modem of the cations. However a commercial Ku-band version has been launched
Suitcase CCT90 can easily be switched out and plugged in to an- which is ideal for IP TV newsgathering.
other CCT product, such as the new Drive-Away CCT120, to adapt
systems for rapidly evolving operational needs. In addition to improv- High performance
ing flexibility and system reliability, the easy replacement and shar- VISLINK has launched NewSwift LT, a competitive antenna for high
ing of components creates a significant cost advantage. speed data and growing SNG markets. This is a vehicle-mounted
Like the IPT Suitcase, the Suitcase CCT90 features an advanced, satellite uplink with an innovative high performance 1.2 metre alu-
user-friendly design that makes SWE-DISH terminals the world’s minium reflector.
quickest-to-air terminals, achieving satellite acquisition in less than NewSwift LT complements the company’s NewSwift range of high
five minutes. Because of its modular design, the Suitcase CCT90 is performance vehicle mounted antennas. It has the same mountings
the most compact terminal of its kind on the market. There are three to attach it to the vehicle, a pod housing a redundant pair of up to
packaging options, including a configuration that makes the Suit- 200 watt amplifiers and uses the same antenna controller. Like the
case CCT90 small enough to carry on to a commercial airliner. traditional NewSwift CF range, the new antenna also offers the ad-
In addition, the Suitcase CCT90 features easy, one-person op- vantages of a fully integrated RF system and is integrated with the
eration, an intuitive graphical user interface, trouble-free antenna VISLINK 5000 Series electronic sub systems.
Photo courtesy of SWE-DISH by Rockwell Collins. Photo courtesy of C-COM
14 www.satellite-evolution.com | May/June 2010
VISLINK has designed this new antenna with data and mobile ing technology as the RaySat family of antennas and supports re-
Internet applications in mind. It is intended for applications which ception at speeds up to 350 km/h.
require high-speed data connections at a lower cost, but which also Michael Barak, Executive Vice President of RaySat Incorporated
require a higher quality reflector than the standard VSAT antennas stated, “As a forward-looking company, RaySat is constantly work-
due to the superior sidelobe and x-polar performances required at ing with its R&D team to quickly develop products to meet new mar-
these higher TX EIRP levels. ket demands. The expansion into the northern regions is part of our
The NewSwift LT is designed for operation in Ku-band to meet company’s goal to globally provide mobile satellite TV solutions.”
the requirements of broadcasters and mobile or temporary Internet The SpeedRay 1000 LE has already received positive feedback
applications worldwide. from the market. The SpeedRay 1000 LE can be configured for use
“NewSwift LT benefits from the very latest precision vacuum with any Ku-band satellite to enable LIVE satellite TV from regional
formed aluminium reflector techniques,” commented Ashley Dove, DTH/FTA.
Director of Product Marketing at VISLINK. “Providing an alternative
to carbon fibre construction, VISLINK has been able to deliver a com- Mobility
plementary antenna with the same finely crafted reflective surfaces, The C-COM Satellite Systems iNetVu antenna has been deployed
in aluminium, with a lower manufacturing cost and only a small trade the first time for mobile breast cancer screening in rural New Zea-
off in weight.” land.
The Breast Screen Waitemata Northland unit, which began op-
On-the-move capability erating in January, sets the standard for mobile breast cancer screen-
Known as an international leader of in-motion, low-profile, phased- ing using digital and satellite technology. The unit’s new digital tech-
array Ku band satellite antennas for the mobile satellite TV market, nology processes the picture within seconds, and beams it, via the
RaySat has released a low-elevation version of its signature iNetVu mobile satellite antenna located on top of the vehicle, to radi-
SpeedRay 1000 antenna. The new antenna, named the SpeedRay ologists in Auckland.
1000 LE, has a low look-angle and is designed for installation on The BreastScreen unit was integrated with the iNetVu mobile
vehicles in the public, private and mass transportation sectors. antenna system by C-COM’s reseller Farmside, who is also the sat-
Using flat phased-array panel technology, the SpeedRay 1000 ellite service provider for this application. Farmside’s CEO, Tony Baird
LE has a modified internal design to offer improved antenna recep- said the mobile breast screening unit was another example of how
tion at low elevations. Maintaining the low-profile form factor of its satellite technology can deliver for rural areas an immediate and very
product line, the SpeedRay 1000 LE has only a nominal increase of cost effective application, made possible by the iNetVu mobile an-
3 cm in the antenna height – making the total antenna height 18 cm. tenna.
The SpeedRay 1000 LE employs the same high-speed satellite track- “To deliver the best in health and education services across New
Photo courtesy of ND Satcom.
16 www.satellite-evolution.com | May/June 2010
Zealand we need to be able to utilise technologies that are equiva- carrier, in order to complete the acquisition. This is a longer process,
lent to those available in the cities,” he said. “In this case satellite has which can usually add an additional 2 to 10 minutes to the typical
met an immediate need and is literally helping to save lives.” DVB-S1 based acquisition process. In addition, this can be an ex-
The satellite technology eliminates the need to transport hardcopy pensive option, if additional hardware has to be purchased to make
x-ray film – saving time and effort, and enabling the mammograms this possible (like a beacon receiver).
to reach the radiologists for interpretation more quickly. It is estimated
that the digital and satellite technology used in the new mobile unit Intelligent antennas
will enable an additional 1,800 more women to be tested annually – The antenna, and associated systems, have changed beyond all
an increase of around 30 percent. recognition and will continue to change in the future, becoming even
The new mobile unit delivers the BreastScreen programme for smaller, stealthier, more transportable and perhaps even more sim-
women aged 45-69, and based on its success, other health provid- ple to operate. Now that satellite communications are involved in so
ers may adopt similar technology in future. many aspects of life from satellite newsgathering and broadcasting
“We are very pleased to be able to assist women in rural New to screening patients for breast cancer, antennas must meet a much
Zealand to get screened for early signs of cancer through our tech- wider range of requirements than ever before and antenna manufac-
nology. The iNetVu mobile antenna system makes it possible to bring turers will rise to the challenge of meeting these with ever more in-
advanced digital breast screening technology into rural areas and to novative ideas.
offer these services virtually anywhere in an immediate and cost
effective way, saving countless lives in the process.” said Leslie Klein,
President and CEO of C-COM Satellite Systems Inc.
ND Satcom’s SkyRAY Light 1200 is ND SatCom’s response to the
demand for lightweight, yet robust automatically pointing transmit
and receive antennas for mobile IP VSAT and SNG applications. The
system is easy to operate and provides an affordable communica-
tion infrastructure – anytime – anywhere – within minutes.
The ND SatCom SkyRAY Light 1200 is the ideal solution for
mobile corporate communications, governmental institutions, relief
organisations and broadcasters requiring reliable and secure real-
time IP-based communication via satellite. Integrated in a stylish
aerodynamic carbon fibre casing, the antenna system can be quickly
mounted on any vehicle. The system features a high performance
1.2 m antenna reflector, a rugged tri-axis positioner, GPS receiver
and compass enabling auto-pointing and auto-network acquisition.
The antenna itself is very lightweight and therefore easy to mount
on any vehicle. There is only one cable involved in installation – again
making it very simple to deploy. The system itself, once deployed, is
easy to operate by non-technical users and can be used with a range
of SSPAs. In addition, the antenna itself is covered in aerodynamic
casing for use on the road.
Auto-pointing technology is a key feature of any antenna system. It
eliminates the technical element of actually finding and acquiring
the satellite and is accurate, ensuring that signal interference is not
caused by the user. In the SNG and outdoor broadcasting environ-
ment, acquiring the satellite is something that must be available to
the user at all times – and the satellite must be acquired quickly.
C-COM’s newest generation controller, the iNetVu 7000 supports
the latest DVBS2/ACM modulation technique. This capability allows
C-COM’s auto deploying antenna systems to work with the most
advanced satellite modems and two-way services that are being
deployed worldwide using the DVB-S2/ACM technology.
The major benefit of supporting DVB-S2/ACM is that the satel-
lite can now be located using its own DVB-S2 ACM carrier and not
by relying on a television carrier that may or may not be available at
all times. The international acceptance and compliance by DVB-S2/
ACM satellite remote equipment vendors make this feature more and
more important as a greater number of operators employ this tech-
Having this feature available in the 7000 controller makes the
iNetVu Comms-On-The-Pause auto deploying technology one of the
fastest at acquiring satellite today. Controllers that do not have such
capability but are required to work on DVB-S2/ACM satellites not
having any DVB-S1 carriers available on them, would have to rely on
RF search using modem integration, or a combination of either mo-
dem and beacon, or modem and reference satellite with DVB-S1 Photo courtesy of ND Satcom.
18 www.satellite-evolution.com | May/June 2010