There are some exciting things starting to happen in the world of satellite technology in 2022. We wanted to take a look at this and what it means for the satellite industry, as well as the industries that satellite technology serves.
Orion’s Managing Director Shannon Fisher has pinpointed 4 particularly noteworthy trends worth keeping an eye out for, both now and moving into 2023.
Hear more about how Orion’s expertise in satellite solutions can help your remote operation by contacting us today.
Trend #1. Low Earth Orbit Satellites
There is a huge buzz around them, so it would be strange if LEO satellites didn’t get a mention. But why are they such a talking point?
Compared to ordinary satellites, Low Earth Orbit or “LEO” satellites are closer in proximity to Planet Earth – between 160-2,000 km.
Because of their close proximity, LEO satellites fly much faster (over 27,000 km/h) and transmit signals much faster than GEO (Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit) satellites.
This fast speed and close proximity make them ideal for critical communications that can’t afford to have high data transmission lag (also called “latency”) as the signal travels from the satellite.
But since the first LEO constellation is now in its beta phase, the question is, will its capabilities be limited?
The challenge with LEO satellites is, according to Fisher, about how to control them. “LEO is still fresh in a mobility world, and it’s not yet clear how well it can be moved around and meet the needs of remote operations. But we can certainly be excited about the future of LEO and what it’ll bring to connectivity solutions.”
Trend #2. SD-WAN
Satellites need high availability, and if there’s one thing the COVID outbreak has proven, it’s that people want quality rather than quantity. And in metro areas – they’re certainly getting it.
A solution to this challenge is to use a software-defined Wide Area Network (or “SD-WAN” for short). And in the cities and suburbs, there has been a significant increase in uptake GlobalData research tells us that almost 60% of Australian enterprises with more than 200 employees have already adopted SD-WAN and one in three are considering implementing it in the next 12 months.
There is no reason that remote areas can’t hop on this convenience, too.
By assigning every application on a network a specific routing, you can combine and utilise services like Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) to securely connect users to applications, all while reducing power consumption.
This gives the system the ability to maintain its services despite a fault and tolerate and recover better from a fault.
The SD-WAN approach gives you the best of both worlds, according to Shannon.
“From a satellite point of view, that means multiple satellite connections and technology – for example, if you have a LEO satellite connection and geo-satellite connection – you’d have to route the traffic over the relevant connection or a different satellite.”
Shannon also stated that one area of focus for 2022 was to “have a LEO/GEO high availability service,” since GEO has the advantage of being cheaper, while LEO has the advantage of low latency.
Trend #3. Machine learning & AI
Machine learning (ML) and AI are transforming farming and agricultural businesses. They’re also responsible for climate and weather predictions – essential to rural and remote businesses.
Satellites play a huge part in the collection and distribution of data. Using radar data, algorithms are formed and data is analysed to make intelligence-based outcomes and decisions.
An example of this includes AI being used for the forecasting of droughts or floods. In these scenarios, insurance companies take the drought or flood predictions and adjust investment strategies. “Satellite technology plays a part in AI and ML by producing the data needed from multiple datasets and sources in order to generate algorithms and predictions,” explains Shannon.
Robotics and machine learning are being talked about more widely in agriculture especially. Autonomous machines are helping replace manual labour or human intervention, in ways such as driving tractors. The same can be said for mining. Mining and resources companies are starting to use AI and ML for predicting optimum conditions, better ventilation, monitoring patterns for improved health and safety and more.
Trend #4. Seamless automation/customer control
The rise in the use of robotics and machine learning emphasises the need for reliable connectivity.
The complexity kicks in when connection requirements change location and intensity. An example of such a scenario would be during fire season in Western Australia. During these periods its essential for rural fire services to be able to quickly move bandwidth from areas to affected areas, in essence borrowing it from areas that are in the clear.
“We call this ‘bang for your buck satellite management’”, says Shannon, “and it’s all about efficient bandwidth management.”
“No one wants to pay for coverage where it’s not needed. Instead, the coverage requirements need flexibility so they can shift and change.”
The key to making this running smoothly, is to automate and streamline the moving of bandwidth so that it doesn’t require manual assistance.
If you have potential of needing 10 MB of bandwidth, you need flexibility within it. You don’t want 10 MG of bandwidth and 9 of it goes unused.”
To solve this problem, you can base the bandwidth pooling either on seasonal, commodity prices or production schedules to solve this problem.
When multiple sites share the same bandwidth pool, the user can control which site has what bandwidth – thereby giving them an empowered sense of control.
For example, if you have 3 copper mining sites, one of which is active, you can channel all of your total available connection bandwidth into that one site – increasing the overall connection speed.
Moving into the future with scalable and flexible connectivity solutions
The future is certainly looking exciting for satellites and associated technologies. Utilising these capabilities will make running your business easier. Orion and their partners can help your reach those goals by getting you connected. Looking for the right way for your business to stay connected is what Orion do best. It’s not about finding a way to fit your business to a solution, but a way to fit a solution to your business.
Contact us today to find out more about Orion’s remote satellite connectivity solutions.