Julian Crudge, head of network and data services, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, outlines the advantages and challenges of the Nordic company’s inclined orbit operations over the Middle East.
The main technical challenges associated with inclined orbit operations have been to ensure that good quality tracking equipment and antennas have been specified by customers
You have established inclined satellite operations at 4° West orbital location for coverage throughout the Middle East. How long, in your estimate will the satellite operate?
Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSBc) operates Thor III at 4° West. Thor III is an FSS satellite that was previously used to deliver broadcasting services into the Nordic region. As Thor III has a high-powered concentrated beam, which is a pre-requisite for broadcast services into small antennas, it is ideally suited to supply high data-rate internet services into the region. Based on current estimates, the satellite has more than six years economic life left for inclined orbit operations.
What are the typical challenges of offering capacity from a satellite in an inclined orbit?
The main technical challenges associated with inclined orbit operations have been to ensure that good quality tracking equipment and antennas have been specified by customers. This is needed to provide reliability and to ensure that we can achieve the maximum data-rates possible with the modulation schemes and ACM modems. We have also faced interference challenges but these are not unique to inclined orbit operations as they frequently affect stabilised satellites as well.
In terms of cost reductions, by what proportion do costs come down with regard to offering services from an inclined orbit?
Inclined orbit services for large data-rate requirements are around 70% cheaper than the equivalent stabilised satellite solution. Nevertheless, for data-rates less than 30Mbps the advantages begin to reduce, due to the higher costs associated with tracking antennas.
In terms of technology, highlight innovations that have made it simpler and more reliable to operate satellites in an inclined orbit.
In general, tracking mechanisms for smaller antennas have become more abundant and therefore cheaper over recent years, making inclined orbit operations possible and more commonplace in the market.
What is the general profile of the clients using services on this particular satellite?
The main clients are internet service providers in areas where there is poor or limited backbone connectivity. These customers require large data-rates at competitive prices. For this reason, satellites originally designed for broadcasting services and now operating in inclined orbit are suitable for providing this connectivity.