In the 21st century, instant communication is not only needed but expected no matter where in the world businesses and individuals are located. Since launching Sputnik I in 1957, satellite technology has provided a variety of ways in which people communicate globally.
Advances in maritime communications thanks to technology breakthroughs and a global patchwork of fiber, wireless, microwave and satellite networks has led to communications options that are less expensive, are sometimes higher speed and sometimes higher resilience. While the availability of these different mediums brings more choices for communications, the largest issue with this patchwork is that there has previously been no suitable option for seamless, automatic transition between them. Thus, companies who operate at sea and move frequently continue to struggle to have reliable, always-on communications systems.
Historically, satellite communications have been facilitated by antennas which have been primarily single-band, usually with only C-, Ka- or Ku-band capabilities, and required physically and manually changing parts to switch between them. This not only means additional costs and engineering labor but also takes a substantial amount of time, leaving these businesses potentially down for an extended period of time. In some dual-band antennas, there is a mechanical ability to switch between two bands at a time, but this still doesn’t address the goal of always-on communications, or using the bands simultaneously. What fleet areas really need is a means of intelligently leveraging all the varying mediums, regardless of where the ship is in the world, by using a mixture of technologies.
Recognizing this need as well as being specifically asked by customers, Harris CapRock Communications launched a first-of-its-kind communications service that offers an explosion of choices in one technology solution. The Harris CapRock One solution is an intelligent, geographically aware, highly-integrated, fully-managed end-to-end service offering that covers the globe while transparently switching between transport mediums for optimized communications and reduced costs of data, voice and equipment management.
Harris CapRock Communications’ unique service offering is comprised of a multi-band antenna and an Intelligent Communications Director (ICD). The tri-band antenna allows for C-, Ka- and Ku-band connectivity with no additional moving parts in a mechanically passive arrangement, meaning that any satellite orbiting the Earth can be accessed with no technician intervention required. In order to take advantage of geographic awareness, the multi-band antenna works in tandem with the ICD.
The ICD is a geographically aware smartbox that recognizes where the multi-band antenna is around the world and carries a database of the network footprints available. Additionally, the device is aware of the operator’s traffic. It can route the traffic intelligently over the most appropriate network path using the multi-band antenna based on what the application commonly requires. By optimizing the network traffic, the ICD enhances the end-to-end experience and thus completes a game-changing intelligent routing solution with end-to-end application performance management for satellite communications.
With the latest multi-band technology, businesses who frequently move fleets around the globe, such as in the energy and cruising industries, can invest in fewer radomes that can support any signal and will self-configure for the scenario depending on where they are in the world. Just like mobile phones roaming on land switch automatically around satellite, 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi service signals, cruise ships and drill ships or rigs as well as oil and gas sites now have an explosion of communications choices in one technology solution for the highest uptime and access to important resources.
Today, investing in next-generation satellite communications technology enables companies to access the maximum amount of resources available to meet their daily, hourly and even by-the-minute needs. Satellite technology has grown tremendously in the last 50 years, and with the continued advancements, tasks that were once unthinkable and improbable, such as video conferencing with individuals thousands of miles out at sea, can occur every day. Advancements in communications have truly been able to bring people from opposite sides of the world together as well as enable businesses to be much more successful in the way in which they operate like never before.