Home North AmericaNorth America II 2015 Satellite communications power M2M connectivity throughout North America – and beyond

Satellite communications power M2M connectivity throughout North America – and beyond

by Administrator
David WigglesworthIssue:North America II 2015
Article no.:11
Topic:Satellite communications power M2M connectivity
throughout North America – and beyond
Author:David Wigglesworth
Title:VP Global Internet of Everywhere
PDF size:204KB

About author

David Wigglesworth has been Vice President of Inmarsat’s M2M division since March 2015. Mr. Wigglesworth joined Inmarsat from Iridium, where he held a variety of senior sales and marketing positions for their M2M data services team between 2001 and 2015, including Director of M2M Data Services and Vice President & General Manager. Mr. Wigglesworth was responsible for growing Iridium’s M2M hardware and service business from zero to over $75M. Prior to this, he held various sales and marketing positions at Certia, ORBCOMM and American Mobile Satellite.

David Wigglesworth holds a Master of Engineering degree in Communication, Information and Electronic Engineering from the University of Plymouth, and an MBA from Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Article abstract

David Wigglesworth, VP, Internet of Everywhere at Inmarsat, explains how satellite communications services have the reach, availability and reliability to power M2M connectivity around the world

Full Article

Remote wireless connectivity is a crucial component in enabling machine to machine (M2M) tracking, monitoring and control solutions for fixed and mobile assets. Without communications services, gathering data, monitoring, and controlling these assets and infrastructure becomes a manual, resource-intensive process.
Traditionally, industries have used cellular connectivity to bridge this communication gap. However, as industries expand, and cellular data becomes increasingly in demand in the personal communications space, cellular connectivity cannot always be relied upon to deliver the services that the growth in M2M and the Internet of Things (IoT) demands:
• Cellular is particularly vulnerable to congestion, and relies on a fixed infrastructure that’s vulnerable to damage or disruption
• It cannot reach everywhere businesses need to go, with cellular networks only covering perhaps 10 percent of the earth’s surface
• Cellular roaming charges can be expensive for companies with operations in different countries—even the US and Canada
Satellite communications can enable complete operational visibility of an organization’s fixed and mobile assets, regardless where in the world the asset is located. Its infrastructure doesn’t rely on a vulnerable series of cell towers, and the coverage of most satellite networks extends beyond national borders. While it’s true that many companies don’t need global coverage for their own assets, they do need coverage in all of the places they do business around the world, and satellite communications can help enable that coverage.
Different satellite networks use different parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum—L-band, C-band and Ku-Band or Ka-Band, which each operate in different frequencies. Each band has its own appeal for different industries. The L-band in particular helps to ensure a particularly reliable network, as it’s extremely resilient to disruption caused by weather and other environmental factors.
Being a relatively low frequency, L-band is easier to process, requiring less sophisticated and less expensive RF equipment. Due to a wider beam width, the pointing accuracy of the antenna does not have to be as accurate as the higher bands. The L-band is used heavily, for example, in the maritime industries for safety communications at sea. Because of its reach and reliability, and its ability to communicate even in weather events and in the diverse geography found on the North American continent, the L-band is well suited to M2M traffic.
Satellite is in use today to power M2M communications with both fixed and mobile assets for a wide range of industry sectors, including:
• Oil and gas. There are many use cases within this industry because a company’s assets can be placed dozens and sometimes even hundreds of miles apart. Here’s an example of a common use for satellite M2M communications within this industry:
A leading provider of rental equipment used in the oil and gas industry was looking to reduce the costs associated with remotely managing its equipment in the field. The equipment is technically advanced and the company’s customers are not always able to operate the equipment at peak efficiency. The manufacturer required a cost-effective, automated method to remotely monitor its equipment and provide real-time feedback to the end user. This would allow for the equipment to work at optimal efficiency, without incurring the costs of routinely sending technicians onsite to manually monitor and optimize the equipment settings.
Implementing a remote monitoring solution powered by a satellite M2M connectivity solution enabled the manufacturer to reduce the number of site visits by up to 50 percent, increasing customer satisfaction, and reducing labour, vehicle and fuel costs.
Since the time to diagnose and resolve problems has decreased from hours to minutes, the manufacturer was able to recover the initial capital investment cost and several months of airtime within a few reduced site visits. The solution has also helped to increase customer satisfaction and allows the manufacturer to allocate technical resources to other functions within their company.
• Transportation. Transportation does not just mean tracking assets, but also the loads the asset carry, and the safety and security of the driver. Being able to remotely monitor and track road transportation vehicles also allows fleet logistics companies to analyze driver patterns and optimize routes to deliver the most efficient service. A few use cases for this industry include:
o Being alerted and being able to reach out if the vehicle has stopped moving for a certain period of time, or has strayed outside a pre-determined route
o Tracking safe speed threshold and driver peak, average and over-speed events
o Receiving alerts when vehicles enter hazardous areas
o Monitoring and alerts for engine condition, fuel levels, cargo temperature and other factors.

This type of reporting can be particularly useful when transporting perishables, especially those that need to be transported in refrigerated conditions. By alerting the business to an increase in temperature, or a mechanical failure, the cargo can be diverted to a closer facility, reducing loss.

Often expensive insurance rates can be mitigated by implementing satellite-based monitoring and tracking capabilities. Insurers are increasing looking favorably on fleets that can provide complete and accurate telemetry data, often leading to a reduction in premiums.

• Electrical power distribution networks. Utility network management is complex. When severe weather or natural disasters hit, temporary or permanent damage can occur to the transmission grid. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of network faults can be attributed to short-term ‘transients’ in supply from disrupted power lines. To combat this, utility companies segment their distribution networks in order to isolate faults to as small a part of the grid as practical.

Traditionally these segments were controlled by breakers installed at key points in the network. However, breakers can only respond to significant power surges and are only installed at sub-stations, so resilience is less than optimal. Reclosers eliminate these shortcomings as they enable utility companies to manage and monitor their network in a more efficient manner before substations can be affected. They can be placed at strategic locations throughout the network, meaning that damage can be isolated and power re-routed without waiting for a substation to be affected.

In order to function optimally, reclosers need an always-available, real-time connectivity solution for instant control in cases of outage or disruption to power lines. They can be triggered remotely and also provide data back to the operations centre, enabling utility companies to prioritize restoration activities, reduce customer outage time, decrease revenue impacts from outages and minimize the potential for cascading infrastructure damage.
These are just some of the applications that satellite communications are powering throughout the world. But connectivity is just one side of the equation. Today’s industries are looking for tailored end-to-end connectivity solutions, preferring to acquire both their connectivity services and their sensor suites, control software and all the other parts of their M2M requirements at once.
Where the satellite industry can help to enable this delivery is through partnership. By working with key third-party solutions providers and systems integrators, satellite operators can ensure that their connectivity services are part of this bespoke package.
The future
As the demand for richer, real-time data connectivity increases, so too will the strain placed on existing communications networks to keep pace with requirements. It’s happening already. Cellular networks cannot serve the demands of the industry to keep their assets connected, both in terms of geographical coverage and balancing the needs of consumer data demands against B2B requirements. Networks become degraded or congested, and can’t reach everywhere a business needs to operate. Additionally since the sun-setting of 2G networks has commenced it has become clear that cellular networks are unlikely to have the desired longevity needed to maximize the ROI of M2M solutions. Satellite networks tend to have much longer life of 15 or more years, and often replacements are backwards compatible.
Satellite networks provide worldwide connectivity, especially to places beyond the reach of cellular networks, and by acting as a cellular offload. As North American businesses continue to increase their reliance on M2M devices and applications, satellite networks can help them by providing robust connectivity solutions that deliver on the reliability and availability that new M2M applications require.


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