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More Bang for your BUC

OffComm News - - LA UNE -

Lim­ited satel­lite net­work band­width has to cope with greater de­mands as the data, voice and video needs of re­mote oil and gas in­stal­la­tions grow. How­ever, as Vaughan O’Grady finds out, data com­pres­sion and band­width op­ti­miza­tion of­fer ways to make less satel­lite band­width do a lot more. So why are ad­vances in data com­pres­sion and band­width op­ti­miza­tion so im­por­tant to oil and gas com­pa­nies in re­mote ar­eas? Firstly, be­cause of grow­ing quan­ti­ties of op­er­a­tional data ( in­clud­ing M2M, equip­ment mon­i­tor­ing and new ap­pli­ca­tions in video), vir­tu­alised server ap­pli­ca­tions, in­ter­net ac­cess, HDTV, SaaS and more. All can de­mand more band­width and yet, as Thomas Wurst, se­nior so­lu­tions engi­neer with Sig­nal­horn, a provider of com­mu­ni­ca­tions so­lu­tions em­ploy­ing satel­lite, ter­res­trial and wire­less tech­nolo­gies, put it: “Re­mote rigs of­ten have lim­ited con­nec­tiv­ity, low band­width, and high la­tency.” Which is why, ac­cord­ing to Emerg­ing Mar­kets Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ( EMC), a provider of hy­brid global satel­lite and ter­res­trial com­mu­ni­ca­tions, “Com­pa­nies must con­trol each user’s band­width uti­liza­tion. Satel­lite con­nec­tions must be op­ti­mized t o meet t he re quire ments of the ap­pli­ca­tion. A 10 Mbps satel­lite link must fac­tor in the round- trip de­lay.”

More Bang for your Buck

A num­ber of tech­nolo­gies and tech­niques can be used to help oil and gas com­pa­nies cope with these de­mands and lim­i­ta­tions. One such is echo can­cel­la­tion, which, said EMC, “en­ables both di­rec­tions of trans­mis­sion to share the same satel­lite band­width ca­pac­ity.” On legacy TDM net­works, * Abis de­vices pro­vide a good level of voice com­pres­sion, al­low­ing mul­ti­ple E1s to be com­bined onto a sin­gle one. How­ever, as end- to- end IP cir­cuits ar­rive new tech­niques are be­ing im­ple­mented. EMC noted: “Header com­pres­sion and traf­fic shap­ing are stan­dard op­tions used in most of the VSAT NOC [ net­work op­er­a­tion cen­tres].” TCP ac­cel­er­a­tion and op­ti­miza­tion, HTML ob­jects caching, JPEG transcod­ing and GZIP com­pres­sion and byte caching all have ap­pli­ca­tions. EMC also cites its own SpeedNet cloud- based ( and zero la­tency) web browser along with the HD Con­nect high def­i­ni­tion ap­pli­ca­tion for video con­fer­enc­ing, which re­moves the need to buy ded­i­cated ca­pac­ity to in­te­grate users on telep­res­ence or video­con­fer­enc­ing sys­tems. Sig­nal­horn also cites ap­pli­ca­tion ac­cel­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies and data com­pres­sion based on tech­nolo­gies like zip, rar or other for­mats — as well as IP header com­pres­sion, caching and proxy server tech­nolo­gies ( which re­duce the re­sponse time to re­quests) and, of course, op­ti­miza­tion of the TCP/ IP pro­to­col. “The pro­to­col pa­ram­e­ters and trans­mis­sion mech­a­nisms — such as TCP win­dow size and slow start — are mod­i­fied by ex­ter­nal de­vices or soft­ware to adapt to long la­tency con­nec­tions,” Wurst ex­plained. “This tech­nol­ogy is also called pro­to­col spoof­ing and is done at both ends of a con­nec­tion to in­crease data through­put.” There is also de- du­pli­ca­tion of data — elim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion that will not be sent via the link. “The re­con­struc­tion at the other end is done based on data pat­terns that are al­ready trans­mit­ted at an ear­lier stage,” Wurst said. On the VSAT tech­nol­ogy side, he added, the ca­pa­bil­ity for op­ti­miza­tion de­pends on many fac­tors such as the avail­able space seg­ment for the spe­cific lo­ca­tions of the cus­tomer sites, fre­quency band, tele­port ca­pa­bil­i­ties and VSAT ven­dor tech­nol­ogy. “Ba­si­cally, the key mech­a­nisms to achieve highly ef­fi­cient space seg­ment uti­liza­tion are based on adap­tive cod­ing and mod­u­la­tion tech­niques or ‘ car­rier- in- car­rier’ so­lu­tions,” said Wurst.

Con­sid­er­able Op­tions

Tore Morten Olsen is head of mar­itime satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions ac­tiv­i­ties at Air­bus De­fence and Space, of which Mar­link, an in­de­pen­dent provider of ser­vices for the mar­itime in­dus­try, is a part. He com­mented that: “Satel­lite op­er­a­tors pro­vid­ing HTS ser­vices are us­ing fre­quency re- use, which makes it pos­si­ble to get more mega­hertz per dol­lar. A dif­fer­ent ex­am­ple is the XChange box we have pro­vided to more than 1,000 ves­sels, which com­bines dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies like com­pres­sion, caching, con­tent fil­ters and pri­ori­ti­sa­tion.” Which of the avail­able op­tions are likely to be the best for an off­shore op­er­a­tion us­ing satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions rather de­pends on the type of op­er­a­tion, your com­pany’s cov­er­age and through­put needs, and the band or bands em­ployed. How­ever, the good news is that a wide num­ber of com­pa­nies of­fer prod­ucts and ser­vices that can make more ef­fi­cient use of lim­ited satel­lite band­width op­tions. They in­clude EMC, of course, and Mar­link but, for spe­cific ac­cel­er­a­tion so­lu­tions, Wurst cites ven­dors such as Riverbed, Xi­plink, Blue Coat, FatPipe, Cisco, Ipanema, Citrix, Pack­e­teer, Ex­pand Net­works and Sil­ver Peak Sys­tems. And of course space seg­ment op­ti­miza­tion and ef­fec­tive util­i­sa­tion of space seg­ment re­sources is the fo­cus of many VSAT tech­nol­ogy ven­dors, such as Comtech EF Data, iDirect, Gi­lat, Hughes and Newtec. Wurst con­tin­ued: “The lead­ing op­ti­miza­tion ven­dors of­fer sev­eral dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of IP WAN op­ti­miz­ing tech­nol­ogy that suit spe­cific pur­poses. Sig­nal­horn’s role is to se­lect and in­te­grate the op­ti­mal data com­pres­sion and band­width op­ti­miza­tion tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide a tailor- made so­lu­tion for our cus­tomer.” Mar­link has a sim­i­lar phi­los­o­phy from the mar­itime VSAT point of view. “Pro­vid­ing ship own­ers all over the world with Ku, C, L and soon Ka and X- band ser­vices, we are well po­si­tioned to pro­vide band­width- ef­fi­cient com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­cause of our ex­pe­ri­ence, net­work, part­ners and prod­uct port­fo­lio,” said Olsen.

Noise Re­duc­tion Sys­tem

As well as proven tech­nolo­gies for op­ti­miza­tion, EMC has in­ter­nally patented sev­eral tech­nolo­gies in­clud­ing not just Speednet but its NRS [ Noise Re­duc­tion Sys­tem] tech­nol­ogy, which uses its car­rier can­cel­la­tion ca­pa­bil­ity to save in­bound MHz. “EMC also fo­cuses ef­forts on im­proved soft­ware for our SatLink prod­uct line to achieve porta­bil­ity of band­width to var­i­ous lo­ca­tions or ves­sels within a net­work on de­mand and ad­vanced net­work mon­i­tor­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to man­age band­width uti­liza­tion,” said the com­pany.

Lim­i­ta­tions “Mak­ing some­thing which is al­ready com­pressed even more com­pressed is still dif­fi­cult.”

But what are the lim­i­ta­tions ( at the mo­ment) of such tech­niques be­yond which data com­pres­sion or band­width op­ti­miza­tion are no longer vi­able op­tions? Qual­ity of ser­vice is, of course, a nec­es­sary con­sid­er­a­tion. It’s also true as Mar­link’s Olsen said that pro­cess­ing is faster than ever “but mak­ing some­thing which is al­ready com­pressed even more com­pressed is still dif­fi­cult.” For satel­lite band­width op­ti­miza­tion, how­ever, EMC said, the in­dus­try is es­pe­cially fo­cused on im­prov­ing the dig­i­tal tele­vi­sion broad­cast stan­dard DVBS2 and mod­u­la­tion tech­niques. Just over ten years ago we were talk­ing about mod­u­la­tion tech­niques such as Bi­nary and Quadra­ture Phase- shift key­ing ( BPSK and QPSK) and then 32 asym­met­ric PSK ( APSK). These days, “We are talk­ing about 64APSK and 256APSK. New FEC [ for­ward er­ror cor­rec­tion) steps and even sharper roll- off will also be part of the new op­ti­miza­tion tech­niques. On the data side the pro­gres­sion seems to be to­ward faster and newer op­tions for op­ti­miza­tion.” All of which, in real terms, means that more band­width ef­fi­cien­cies are help­ing to de­liver more ad­vanced ap­pli­ca­tions in lo­ca­tions with lim­ited con­nec­tiv­ity, and that com­pa­nies can save money by mak­ing less band­width do more. Will this con­tinue? It will have to. As Thomas Wurst said: “To­day oil and gas com­pa­nies are look­ing at ways to max­i­mize their ex­ist­ing satel­lite ca­pac­ity rather than just in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity as their needs grow.” * The Abis in­ter­face is within the GSM ar­chi­tec­ture, be­tween the BTS ( Base Trans­ceiver Sta­tion) and BSC ( Base Sta­tion Con­troller).

Thomas Wurst, se­nior so­lu­tions engi­neer with Sig­nal­horn

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