New technologies expanding satellite markets
Satellite has proved its worth as a connectivity medium in areas where there is no fixed-line infrastructure. While it has remained a niche solution as a result of the logistics involved in the installation and management of the dishes, new technology is promising to bring satellite connectivity to new markets that haven't been able to use satellite links before.
Kymeta, a company created to address the need for lightweight, slim and efficient communication systems that do not require mechanical components to steer towards a satellite, has created new antenna technology. These antennas use metamaterials technology to dynamically steer the beam towards the satellite with no moving parts, resulting in flat, thinner, lighter, more efficient and less expensive antennas.
In comparison, traditional satellite dishes are heavy, large, consume a lot of power, cost a lot and have mechanical gimbals for steering. Phased array antennas are very expensive, require cooling, often cannot transmit and receive on a single aperture, consume an extraordinary amount of power and still often require mechanical steering.
Kymeta's antennas are portable, featuring high-speed Internet connectivity and a built-in WiFi hotspot. They are able to be updated remotely, and even boast built-in Azure capability. They use software to electronically point and steer towards a satellite, allowing the terminals to auto-commission and auto-provision, enabling rapid set-up and installation.
According to Kymeta's Hakan Olsson, this is the first satellite antenna that has been designed for mass production, and its features are some of the reasons the company is introducing the benefits of satellite connectivity across a range of sectors that have not used satellite links before. The technology is currently being used on trains, buses, boats and automobiles, construction sites, first responders and agriculture, he told delegates at the recent launch of the technology in South Africa.
"Satellites provide a global network of available high-throughput bandwidth. Until now there hasn't been a way to easily access it, except to a limited extent. Kymeta's satellite technology and services make it easy to bring global access, anywhere, anytime, while on the move," he said.
Dawie de Wet, CEO of Q-KON, says with the increasing install base of Internet of things (IOT) connected devices, added to the growing bandwidth requirements across Africa, satellite connectivity is becoming more popular in sectors such as financial services. Technologies such as the Kymeta antennas could open even more avenues for satellite applications across the continent.
He adds existing antennas will still have their place, and service providers should use the best available technologies in order to meet the needs of customers.