Satellite 2011

     I’m here at Satellite 2011 in Washington, DC.  Like many conferences, there are new things worth seeing and trying to figure out.  Here’s a few of the things that I’ve seen so far.  Follow the action on the Twitter hashtag #Satellite2011.

     This vendor had a neat concept that could become very useful.  The auto-aquire VSAT unit is mounted in a shippable container.  A national organization can maintain the VSAT in a single warehouse and use an overnight shipping company or airline freight company to get it on-scene within 24 hours.  The VSAT is setup on the luggage rack of any rented SUV … and possibly just inserted in the bed of a pickup depending on look angles.  The dish can be left up while driving.  They claim that a connection can be established at a “quick halt”.  The big advantage to this is removing the need to maintain a vehicle long-term.  Shift the vehicle to a rented one and only pay for use.  It would also work wonders on island operations where vehicle mounted systems can’t be sent there (easily).

Picture of SUV with shippable case VSAT on roof.

     Here is what really caught my eye.  This is a flat panel antenna for a Ku band satellite, yet it is only 2 feet on the long side.  The vendor is just the manufacturer and provides it to integrators that build the form factor around it.  They said that depending on the BUC, the panel can do 1-3 Mbps speeds.  The device is made from plastic and poured copper to keep the weight and cost down.  With this device at the core, I can have a near-BGAN sized device that is easily portable.  Add a 25-watt BUC to have transmit and receive capabilities that exceed my 1.2m dishes with 5 watt BUCs.  The higher start-up costs for the smaller form factor built around it could be offset by lower shipping and deployment costs over the life of the device.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this build out yet although I’m told it is here.

     Now I need to call out the problem with many standard size booths here.  Folks still do not know how to setup a booth that invites attendees to stop by.  For what this convention costs the exhibitors in staff time and money, I’m amazed how many are staff by people talking to other staff and have put up barrier to conversations. 
     When the people in a booth are talking to each other, attendees don’t want to interupt.  Tables, signs, and display cases are setup to divide the booth space from the walkway.  I don’t want to talk over a barrier unless I’m really interested in what you have to show me.
     On the good side, I’m seeing more and more exhibitors understanding the need to double and triple the carpet padding.  Happy feet don’t leave quickly.

Satellite technology as reliable backup?

Satellite in spaceIn reading Andy Opsahi’s article Satellite Technology Provides Disaster Communications When Cell Towers Fail at http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Satellite-Technology-Provides-Disaster.html, I was at first heartened with the statement:

Emergency managers know that having foolproof disaster communications plan is nothing more than fantasy.  That’s because even the most redundant backup strategies can leave responders unable to communicate.

Unfortunately, Andy missed two major drawbacks to satellite communications in the article that appears bias toward the positives of using satellite.  It isn’t surprising as they are frequently overlooked.  A clear view of the sky, and the spot beam capacity.  Although he was dead on when he said it was expensive.

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