Connectivity in the field

Jon Lawson

Volker Jarsch on enabling communications providers for new connectivity services

Numerous providers compete to support the oil and gas industry with satellite-based communications services. It is difficult for a player in this field to qualify itself other than by rock bottom pricing, as long as it offers only mainstream concepts: hosting a hub at the service provider’s facility, placing remote terminals at the customers’ sites and routing all traffic forward and backward through the hub.

The exploration, drilling, production and distribution processes of an oil company involve teams of multiple partners that have to closely collaborate and therefore communicate. The ‘digital oil field’, both off-shore and on-shore relies on collaborative work processes involving data storage and processing capacity at multiple sites needing trusted and efficient telecommunications.

How can a service provider create a competitive advantage?

Wouldn’t it be attractive for you as service provider if you could offer customers individual private communications infrastructures? Their company-internal traffic would use satcom terminals all on the customer’s premises and under his protection. No risks for communications outages due to line cuts or external routing failures. The service provider’s ground station would only be used as gateway to and from public networks and for network management access.

The oil company’s satcom terminals at each of its sites would be connected to its local IT network just like another IT router. In fact, all satcom terminals at his sites would appear like one IP router being ‘internally’ connected via satellite.

The solution? Virtual router in the sky

This ‘satellite-based router’ gives the service provider’s customers the unique advantage that communications between their sites are effected in ‘single hop’ via the satellite. In practical terms this means reducing the latency between two sites by 50% - a considerable improvement of the voice and video quality. Interactive applications are response-time critical; users get nervous when sitting at a PC and waiting, or being slowed down in their flow of activity by slow response time.

Volume data transmissions, eg between exploration sites and the oil company’s lab, can be transmitted at a user data rate of up to 20Mbit/s and yet save 50% of the satellite capacity (cost) because the otherwise required double-hop from the remote site via a hub to the lab is reduced to one hop. Cloud computing concepts and sharing of company-internal data processing and storage resources are ideally served.

Of course, single hop would be possible with a direct point-to-point link via the satellite. As soon as we talk about more than three sites this connectivity becomes expensive. Fix link capacity is constrained – and wasted when not fully used. 

An IP-routed network for service providers

The SKYWAN 5G IP-routed satellite network is the ideal solution for satcom service providers. The SKYWAN 5G terminal provides an integrated router and transmits all data or voice directly to the destination. Throughput can be up to 20Mbit/s user data rate in all directions. The satellite capacity is not dedicated to just one connection between each two points, but is shared between all sites.

Overall, the end-to-end efficiency in time, capacity use, Bit/Hz, and overall cost is unbeatable. At the same time, each site can have higher peak data rates and blocking-free reachability of all sites it needs to communicate to.

Integrated user terminals, on-shore, offshore, mobile, transportable or on-the-move, can reach all relevant company sites in single hop. You, as service provider, can easily add the system to your portfolio and qualify for customers with innovative communications services and features. Run completely individual SKYWAN networks for each customer or establish a shared network of private customer dedicated networks.

For more information visit

Volker Jarsch is director, Satcom Solutions at ND Satcom.

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