Earth station equipment that has been submitted to approval measures conducted in co-ordination with the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) Product Quality Assurance Framework was spot-lighted during both the CABSAT MENASAT Summit and in the CABSAT Exhibition Hall.
According to the GVF spokesman, this feature is of value, both to the communications industry and the broadcast and telecom user communities. As satellite communications have become more popular, the number of earth stations entering the marketplace has increased dramatically. With millions of fixed and mobile satcom terminals now planned for production, GVF’s Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) reportedly aims to represent the global satellite industry – including satellite operators, earth station manufacturers and integrators – as they coordinate industry testing and type approvals that help characterise the quality of satcom equipment. Information about type approvals, and those products that have already been tested, were a centrepiece of the CABSAT 2013 programme.[boxposthighlight]
“It is a process of benchmarking purely for the satcom sector. From areas such as installation to earth station operations and beyond, we are preparing documents that will spell out the criteria for quality. Domain knowledge specialists, who are veterans in various areas of satcom deployment and technology will be empanelled with the GVF and they will be available to conduct audits.
“Companies can apply for benchmarking in multiple areas depending on their range of activities. The thorough audit conducted will include past history among other factors. Once they meet the criteria set by the GVF, they will receive certification for a period of 24 months. If companies are not up to the mark either in terms of equipment used or training of manpower etc., we will recommend measures and conduct an audit at a future date. Companies thus certified will be featured in an online database allowing for satellite operators and other global service providers to contact them.
Companies will also be evaluated on their staff strength and commercial standing, so as to give global providers a transparent format to evaluate competencies. “We believe that the certification process will heighten the need for quality and as a byproduct, network design will improve and interference will reduce and enhance the general acceptability for satellite-based connectivity. Secondly, large satellite operators will be able to function more effectively with certified partners in various regions as compared to flying down their technical resources in case a link goes down.”[/boxposthighlight]
During the MENASAT Summit, industry presentations were delivered on the GVF Product Quality Assurance Framework and how it serves as a path through which manufacturers can have their equipment type-approval tested. This, the GVF claims, will provide an opportunity for the Middle Eastern satellite communications industry to learn how they can take advantage of the programme and apply approved products to the solutions offered to their customers.
The main advantage of type approved products, according to the GVF release, is that satellite end users are able to introduce antenna systems that have demonstrated compliance with industry-approved specifications. Users werer able to examine those products in the CABSAT Exhibition Hall, where a Quality Products Trail helped identify exhibiting manufacturers who have approved earth station products. The approved products were available in the CABSAT exhibition and included systems designed for broadcasting and consumer broadband, as well as enterprise class terminal equipment for fixed networks and for state-of-the-art communications on aircraft, trains, ships, and vehicles.
The GVF MRA, the release states, aims to be the industry mechanism through which the approvals are co-ordinated and guidance is provided for manufacturers and satellite operators pursuing GVF MRA Testing and Satellite System Operator Type Approval for VSAT equipment.
Authorised Test Entities (ATEs)
ATEs are an organisation or individuals authorised by the GVF MRA WG to witness GVF MRA Testing and to certify the completeness and accuracy of the measurement results and of the data package. To improve the efficiency of satellite operators’ type-approval procedures, a consensus-based “Mutual Recognition Arrangement” (MRA) was established through the MRA Working Group. Using this framework, once a type approval is provided to a manufacturer by any one of the participating satellite operators, other operators may mutually recognise the results of the tests conducted during the first operator’s typeapproval process, so that the tests aren’t repeated unnecessarily.
The advantage of Type Approval is that satellite end users will be able to introduce type approved antenna/earth station units, without the need for full verification testing or certification of the performance characteristics, by simply notifying the satellite operator, as foreseen within the application form. The GVF may be delegated by a satellite system operator to perform the Type Approval process on its behalf, through one of its Authorised Test Entities (GVF/ATE). In this case the satellite system operator will recognise and honour the GVF Type Approval on an equal footing with those performed in the past.