Cobham Satcom has revealed a new design of VSAT terminal to improve connectivity to ships for a growing range of satellite constellations
The Sailor XTR is designed for reliable maritime communications across multiple constellations including geostationary, low Earth orbit (LEO), medium Earth orbit (MEO) and new highly elliptical orbit (HEO) satellites. It comes with a 1-m antenna and below-deck units with connectivity ports for vessel communications and internet of things (IoT) applications.
Cobham said the first of these XTR VSAT antennas was installed on DFDS vessel Pearl Seaways for passenger and crew connectivity while sailing in Scandinavian waters. The 1989-built cruise ferry operates between Copenhagen, Frederikshavn in Denmark and Oslo, Norway.
Sailor 1000 XTR antennas communicate over Ku-band satellites, with stable connectivity in rough seas. With a simplified, robust pedestal for better antenna performance, it is easier to switch between Ku-band and Ka-band if required by vessel operators as it links to existing and new geostationary satellites with high throughput spot and wide-beam Ku-band or Ka-band services.
Sailor XTR will also connect with MEO Ka-band services from SES and the new LEO constellations being deployed by OneWeb, Starlink and Amazon.
XTR antenna system control module (ASCM) makes data exchange faster and has built-in IoT data protocols, enabling it to self-report operational data for real-time performance monitoring.
Cobham Satcom product manager for VSAT Jens Ewerling said Sailor XTR “sets the standard for the future of maritime satellite communications”.
He explained how advanced science underpinned development of Sailor XTR. “This will drive greater simplicity for shipowners and operators while enhancing performance,” he said. “This will give them more time to focus on business-critical issues, while handing them the data necessary to identify cost-effective solutions to address and analyse a myriad of complex issues from transparency to environmental compliance and seafarer welfare.”
Sailor XTR antenna units have an Ethernet port for new connectivity options which could be used to integrate third-party devices such as cellular transceivers and wifi access points. Additional data from these devices gets securely routed at up to 1 Gbps to an Ethernet port on the below-deck unit.
An ASCM has a hardware encryption key chip mounted inside. It is networked to all other modules and motors via a star network topology for speed of data exchange and reliability.
It will only accept Cobham-signed software, “which makes it impossible for others to read out the private key, which is programmed into the key chip, thus protecting the antenna from potential cyber attacks” said Cobham.
A single coax cable linking the antenna to the ASCM manages receive and transmit signals and power and can be used to transfer high-speed data from a third-party device.
Cobham uses rapid deployment technology to distribute Sailor XTR units to ships.
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