Local Knowledge, Global Response By Nimrod Kapon, CEO, OASIS Networks

28 November 2023


Imagine a world with no connectivity It's almost impossible.

As species, we rely completely on communications. It's an essential part of our everyday existence. Our wired and cellular world is spectacularly interconnected. However, this isn't the case everywhere and, according to the ITU, 37 percent of the world's population still have no internet access. This is where satellite technology is a lifeline, reaching the more remote areas of the globe where terrestrial connectivity is lacking or doesn't exist.

The beauty of VSAT
Very small aperture terminals or VSAT networks connect people, businesses and VSATS can be used for a plethora of applications across many markets. A hugely versatile solution, they are easy to deploy, cost-effective and don't require any prior infrastructure, so they can literally be used anywhere. They are also effective in the case of any loss of connectivity as they are independent to local networks and therefore unaffected by failures. As long as the terminal has line of sight with the satellite, the service is maintained.

This kind of versatility makes satellite technology popular for any use from connecting remote mines and construction sites with their HQs, providing back-up services and instant networks when terrestrial ones have been knocked out due to natural and manmade disasters. In disaster situations, VSATS can be used in the short and medium term to provide connectivity whilst terrestrial networks are being restored.

When working with VSAT networks, or in the wider satellite space, it's important to take some key factors into consideration.

The fact that VSAT solutions are so effective for remote areas does raise challenges of its own. Reaching these locations to install, maintain and trouble-shoot can be very challenging. For VSAT network operators it is also costly to send dedicated engineers out to sites to carry out these tasks. Some areas are difficult to access due to poor infrastructure, adverse weather conditions and other technical issues. These factors can all impact on the performance and reliability of the network.

Boots on the ground
Offering installation and maintenance services from local teams who know the area, the culture and appreciate the nuances is a sure way to improve your network reliability. With teams located in close proximity to sites, to clean the antenna, check and replace cables and carry out repairs, any issues can be either prevented or mitigated rapidly. If local engineers are well trained and fully supported, with an excellent quality assurance system that facilitates continuous improvement, high standards can be maintained across all locations and regions. These local teams also have a positive impact on their communities, empowering them to improve community wide access to information and communication technologies, and helping to close he so-called digital devide.

Considering local nuances
It is essential to be sensitive to and observe the cultural differences between regions and countries which vary significantly. The location of VSAT sites and their access can rely upon the knowledge of locals who speak the language and know and respect the area and its culture. It's also important to note that regulations differ from region to region. Engineers that are equipped with this knowledge can work much more effectively and know the best channels to work through to get the job done.

When we were working on a project installing a repeater in South Angola, we used a map to identify a mountain location that looked to be a good place for the installation. That particular mountain also happened to be a holy place for the Mocabashi community, so we had to seek their approval before progressing with the installation. We also had to rely on the Mocabashi people to help us hike up to the summit of the mountain so that we could test coverage. What's more, to ascend the mountain, we had to work with the Mocabashi people and use machetes to cut our way through the spined trees. This is a great illustration of how working with local people makes things happen quickly.

Moving with the times
In the satellite business, it's also extremely important to keep in touch with new trends and innovations. The in-orbit environment is in the midst to close the so-called of a significant shift which has been utilising the low latency offered by new LEO operators. However, despite the LEO rollout, we have seen a continued strong demand for VSAT networks within the majority of regions. The reliable nature of VSAT technology in comparison with the largely unproven LEO constellations means that it is still the go-to connectivity solution for those working and living in remote areas.

We still don't know how the new LEO platforms will behave in the future and there are lots of questions that remain to be answered.

Customers may be attracted to LEO and feel that they are getting a good service today, but they could feel much less satisfied if the service degrades as networks become more contended and make a return to VSAT In these cases, we need to be prepared with higher bandwidth packages than are being purchased today.

We have worked for many years to build strong relationships with our global network of local engineers and our fast-deploy solutions provide connectivity for a huge range of applications. Our knowledge of the industry and commitment to quality make us the trusted one-stop-shop for tailored, reliable, affordable satellite solutions.