Introducing Our Latest Member

Last month, we were very excited to announce that Novella Satcoms has become a member of IRG. Novella has been a well-known figure in the satellite industry for some time, and so we are pleased to finally welcome them into the fold!

In order to introduce our new member, we sat down with the CEO of Novella Satcoms, Dr. Ventura Rufino, for a Q&A session.

Can you tell us a bit more about Novella Satcoms?

Certainly. Novella Satcoms is an established supplier of high performance, often bespoke, RF equipment and solutions for satellite earth stations and CATV systems. Myself and Bill Dransfield founded the company in 1997 and we’re based on the outskirts of Leeds city in West Yorkshire.

In the 1990’s, Bill and I were both part of the RF design team that pioneered satellite earth station equipment using the now widely accepted L-band interface.

At Novella Satcoms, we’ve designed and manufactured a wide range of equipment for satellite stations across the globe, serving lots of high-profile customers including the BBC, BT and the UK, USA and French MOD’s. Our beacon receivers are some of the best in the world in terms of quality, and that’s something we always aspire to across our range of products. We also offer, as standard, a warranty of 36 months, to reflect the quality of our products.

What do you think the current state of interference is?

Although there’s been some great progress thanks to IRG’s tireless efforts to bring together the industry, there is definitely still ground to be made. Carrier ID, when properly implemented by users, has significantly lessened the time-consuming process of solving interference after it has occurred, and I definitely see a receptiveness from broadcasters to join the conversation. After all, satellite is still hugely in demand as much as those in the online video business claim it’s dying out. The fact is, the growth of VSAT terminals and increased congestion in the LEO suggest that interference will only intensify, unless we work together to solve it.

What would you say are the most positive advancements in interference mitigation technology?

At Novella, we truly believe that providing the best quality solutions makes a big impact in terms of reducing errors, including interference. Most cases of interference stem from human error, but also from equipment failure which is a difficult and time-consuming problem to solve. Clearly, enforcing Type Approvals could help here, meaning that only approved, quality products can be used.

It’s great that there are significantly more options available when it comes to solving interference, and even preventing it. Much of this is a result of technological advancements, but this also means that although equipment is becoming more advanced, it shouldn’t be less reliable or more difficult to use, and that’s where we come in.

We’re really excited to have joined IRG and are looking forward to getting involved in the group’s latest initiatives and events.

Looking to the Future at the IRG Annual Workshop

It’s now been over a week since the Satellite Interference Reduction Group’s Annual Workshop and we hope you’ve all had time to digest the topics discussed. One of IRG’s main goals is to facilitate relationships between all of those with a stake in solving satellite interference. So, we hope that workshops like these go some way to fulfilling this goal.

This year, we had a brilliant mix of people in the room, from members of the RAF to commercial satellite operators, as well as broadcasters, independent consultants and experts in space tourism. It’s this kind of diversity that helps us get every sector to commit to an interference-free space, and get everyone working together towards one common goal.

There was much to be said on the subject of Artificial Intelligence. Phil Carrai of Kratos told us that Silicon Valley’s single biggest investment last year was AI, while Andreas Voigt of Eutelsat pointed out that there is now so much data available to us that it cannot be handled by humans alone. Our Executive Director, Martin Coleman, went further, suggesting that we could harness this data and use machine learning to help us solve interference and predict future incidences.

The importance of good quality equipment was again on the agenda and were discussed by several of our speakers including Martin Jarrold from the Global VSAT Forum. For some time now we’ve recognised that this, coupled with human error, seems to be one of the most common causes of interference, yet they could both be resolved by using SOMAP, the new approvals scheme set up by several satellite operators and, of course, education.

We couldn’t have avoided the topic of C-band or 5G and Richard Rudd from Plum Consulting sparked an interesting debate on day one of the workshop. On one hand, we had the opinion that spectrum sharing could be relatively straightforward, but we also had some in the room who believed that: “C-band carries many emergency services around the world. Do we really need to use this bandwidth to Instagram pictures of what we eat?”

It was great to hear the broadcaster’s side of the story too, as Nigel Fry offered his take on the state of interference as well as outlining the latest mitigation tools and techniques deployed by the BBC. One such tactic proving effective is to name and shame those countries allowing interference to happen, as well as filing complaints with the ITU.

Of course, as Manuel Metz told us, debris is now the new interference, so this topic was inevitably heavily covered. At the German Space Situational Awareness Centre, Manuel and his team are working on a re-entry model so that space craft demise allows quicker re-entry into the atmosphere, thus reducing debris. His talk was hard-hitting, especially given his prediction that: “It’s not a question of if you get hit, it’s a question of when.”

It wouldn’t have been appropriate to discuss space debris without giving the stage to the Space Data Association. Guy Wilkinson attended the workshop to represent the group, offering an insight into SDC 2.0 and how the Space Data Center could dramatically improve the space environment. This was backed up by Dan Oltrogge of AGI both scientifically and with an informative graphical presentation explaining the situation and the effects of debris. Again, powerful information!

The military sector has long relied upon dependable satellite communications, so it’s only natural that they should also be involved in the fight to keep interference to a minimum. We were really pleased to have so many from the sector in the room with us at our annual workshop, and especially happy to welcome Squadron Leader Chris Dunn from the RAF Air Warfare School to speak. He outlined the importance of being able to anticipate potential conflict in the domain as well as increasing the resiliency of mil-sat operations. It was great to hear Chris label international collaboration as the key to mitigation success, as well as his belief that the military and commercial sector must work closely together.

As always, IRG is striving to be at the forefront of technological innovation. At the Annual Workshop, it was great to finally give the floor to QuadSat, a relatively new company bringing drone technology to the satellite interference game. Particularly for Comms-On-The-Move services, this technology could prove revolutionary. For one, it eliminates the need for vessels to enter port for antenna performance testing, and this would surely increase the number of vessels doing so. According to Joakim Espeland from the organisation, many vessels currently find it too expensive and disruptive to halt operations for antenna checks, which only serves to counter-intuitively increase the likelihood of interference.

Although on the whole it seems that 2017 has been a unique year in that there seems to be a perceived balance of understanding and control, there is still a way to go and we are nowhere near an interference-free spectrum.

Bob Potter brought us all back down to earth with a crash on the second day stating that 93% of satellites in the industry suffer the effects of interference. He also added that 40% of all interference occurrences worldwide are due to VSAT and across the US this rises to nearly 80%. On top of this, VSAT interference is responsible for 50-70% of downtime. So clearly, we have a problem here. What with terminals becoming cheaper, we’re going to see more installed and this will only exacerbate the issue, according to Bob. It was great to see that the outcome of work in this has been fulfilled with the advancement of KratosSatGuard product – something the group helped instigate many years ago at an earlier workshop.

“Spectrum in space is a precious resource, and it’s only through cooperation that we can keep it clean” – Bob Potter.

Once again, we’ve come away from a workshop feeling energised and ready to face the future. With so many technological advances and cooperation between sectors and operators, we truly believe we could one day see a world free from interference. But we cannot be complacent.

Next year we will be continuing our mission by holding several workshops across the world. We invite all of those with a stake in combating satellite interference to attend, and if anyone should like to suggest a speaker, please contact us.

Once again, thank you to ETL Systems and GovSat for kindly sponsoring this workshop.

ETL Systems at IRG Workshop

RF interference is often caused by human error, bad installation, lack of training, poor equipment or system design and a lack of adherence to industry standards and guidelines. At the IRG Workshop, Ian Hilditch of ETL Systems will be discussing how good quality at the production stage can greatly reduce satellite interference.

ETL has a very strong focus on performance, coupled with a robust build, resilient design, and simple integration into the NMS, all of which enhances signal quality and reduces the chance of operator error or component failure. Naturally if all manufacturers were to ensure such a keen attention to detail, we could greatly reduce satellite interference. 

 Ian Hilditch has been the CEO of ETL Systems for the past 14 years. During that time, he has seen the company grow to the 107 people working there today, whilst keeping its focus on product quality.  Ian will be discussing why poor quality products lead to errors and interference and what ETL does to ensure its solutions minimise those risks.

Kratos at the IRG Annual Workshop

Change in the Satellite industry is escalating faster than ever before, with new technologies, new players, and increasing interaction with the Telecom and IT worlds. At the IRG Annual Workshop, Phil Carrai, a veteran executive of all three industries as well as the venture capital community, will explore this changing landscape. 

His session will outline how the lessons learned from each industry can be applied to the systems and processes used by Satellite and Network to provide better service to their customers in an increasingly congested and contested space environment.

Kratos’ Technology & Training Solutions Division includes land & space-based communications products and infrastructure. As the president of the division, Phil has 30 years of experience in communications technology, enterprise software and hardware, and private equity.

The division specialises in four sectors including satellite & space, networks, cybersecurity & IA, and training. Kratos’ Monics and satID products are the industry leaders for carrier management and interference geolocation, and new products SigX and SatGuard have transformed the ability of organisations to operate in the presence of Interference, including that caused by deliberate jammers and VSAT terminals respectively.

We’re very much looking forward to getting Phil’s invaluable take on the current state of interference.

QuadSAT at the IRG Annual Workshop

IRG workshops should serve a number of purposes. We want to bring together the forward-thinkers of the satellite industry and facilitate the important conversations. But we also want to introduce any exciting developments that may prove useful in our struggle against interference.

Joakim Espeland of QuadSAT will be speaking at our next annual workshop on the 25th and 26th of October, and he’ll be introducing a technology which should get everyone listening!

QuadSAT is a relatively new organisation but it has already caught the eye of the satellite operators. Based in Denmark, one of its primary aims is to integrate drone solutions into the Satcom industry.

At the Danish National Drone Centre, QuadSAT is currently prototyping brand-new drone technology and conducting test flights. Drone technology has evolved rapidly over the last few years, and we now have significantly better quality equipment at a lower cost than ever before.

With this evolution has come a plethora of possibilities and opportunities that could be put to use mitigating satellite interference. QuadSAT hopes to prove the effectiveness of drones which can be flown above and around a satellite antenna, preform tests, and feed this information to the ground. This may be particularly beneficial for the coms-on-the-move industry where antennas are located in hard-to-reach areas.

Sensors and controllers installed within the drones can stress test the resilience of the satellite feed, but also ensure correct antenna alignment and detect any errors with the equipment. Given that poor-quality equipment emerges as a cause of interference time and time again, so this could well prove effective.

At the workshop, Joakim and his team will be presenting QuadSAT’s concepts as well as welcoming any feedback to help them improve and develop new drone concepts.

GovSat @ the IRG Annual Workshop

GovSat’s Russ Hogan will be joining us at the IRG Annual Workshop to discuss what government and institution communication providers can learn from the commercial satellite sector.

Russ has 20 years of experience within the satellite industry, spanning both military and commercial operations. For the past 10 years, he has been focusing on Geolocation and RFI investigation, reporting and mitigation.

Having spent 26 years in the Royal Air Force following his formative education, he joined Paradigm (now Airbus Defence & Space) as Interference Manager. In 2009, he moved to Luxembourg to take up the position of Operations Systems Engineer within the SES Customer Service Delivery team. In this post, he brought into operational service the SES Geolocation system and was the SES lead in RF interference Geolocation. Since late 2016, Russ has been with GovSat.

As a joint venture between the Luxembourg government and SES, GovSat’s mission is to provide reliable satellite communications to governments for both defence and civilian services. Russ now manages all aspects of GovSat’s payload operations including heading up the team within the Mission Operations Centre.

As you can see, he knows a thing or two about interference and we’re looking forward to hearing him speak at the Satellite Interference Reduction Group’s Annual Workshop!


It’s not too late to register for the IRG Annual Workshop to be held in Brighton on the 25th and 26th of October. Find out more here.

BSN-UK Networking Event

29th June 2017
Host – Access Partnership
Regulation is Fun!

The BSN-UK regularly holds networking events which usually look at a range of technological advances across the broadcasting and satellite industry. But regulation is something that touches us all in our everyday professional activities, yet is one of the often invisible and unappreciated aspects of the industry.

For this event, we gathered the membership for a meeting at the London office of Access Partnership to find out just how much fun the regulatory aspects of the industry can really be! No, really! Our presenters were Anna Guégan and Daphné Joseph, who are Managers of Policy and Market Access with Access Partnership, a firm which seeks to guide and influence world policy telecoms regulatory decision-making with a staff of 40 across 6 global offices.

Anna and Daphné gave some practical examples of cases where their tailor-made database of regulatory decisions and decision makers for some 190 countries has proven to be vital in gaining a VSAT license in some far-far-away land, or obtained approval for in-flight technology. The presentation made the juxtaposition of how a country could be seen from one viewpoint as an island paradise, with white sand, azure seas and perfect skies… and a regulatory, time consuming, frustratingly uncooperative bureaucratic one from another!

Access Partnership comprises three teams. The Technical Policy Team devises technical arguments to support advocacy, and gains acceptance for a position across multilateral technical groups. It also performs technical due diligence and spectrum campaigns at the ITU. The Public Policy Team delivers outcomes in nation proceedings, multilateral events, and designs and executes issue-specific campaigns. The Market Access team advises on market compliance, conducts regulatory studies and drives campaigns for approval for products and services.

The presentation led to lively discussion and debate from the membership with plenty of Q&As from the floor, followed by networking with refreshments courtesy of Access Partnership. In the end, we all agreed that regulation surely could be fun – but we’d probably leave it to Access Partnership www.accesspartnership.com to sort it all out…

To find out more about the BSN-UK please see www.bsnuk.org.

Space Data Association @ The IRG Annual Workshop

Mark Dickinson, the Vice President of Satellite Operations at Inmarsat and the Chairman of the Space Data Association, is another confirmed speaker at IRG’s Annual Workshop this October. The SDA is a non-profit association that brings together satellite operators who value controlled, reliable and efficient data-sharing critical to the safety and integrity of the space environment and RF spectrum.

The SDA is an organisation that allows operators to safely and effectively operate their satellites and protect the space environment. At the workshop, Mark will be considering the rising risk of collision in space and the importance of a widespread awareness of threats.

“The integrity of Space relies on the mindfulness of those occupying it. It’s important for all satellite operators to be aware of the risks associated with operating in the space environment and take appropriate mitigation measures. The SDA is launching the Space Data Center 2.0 to allow operators to manage the rising risk of collisions, given the ever more congested space environment. We as an industry need to work together to ensure that we can avoid these preventable problems in the future,” – Mark Dickinson, Space Data Association.

The SDC 2.0 has two main functions. The first is improved space situational awareness, provided through a high accuracy, extensive and independently generated catalogue of objects. This system will for the first time provide operators with timely, transparent and actionable conjunction notifications. The second is a Radio Frequency Interference service, which includes a Carrier ID database, to help operators work together to identify the source of interference. Geolocation solution sets will allow operators to determine the best neighbouring satellites to enable geolocation.

Mark will lead the discussion on how the industry as a whole can work together to reduce both the effects of interference and the risk of collision.


The Annual Workshop will be held on the 25th and 26th of October in Brighton, UK. For more information, or to register, please visit the website.

Latest IRG News

IRG has had a very busy few months and have lots of news to share. As always, we’ve had a presence at many of the industry’s biggest shows and have also welcomed a new member to the fold! Here’s what we’ve been up to.


IRG Annual Workshop

Preparation is well underway for the IRG Annual Workshop to be held on the 25th and 26th of October at the Brighton Harbour Hotel.

The workshop will be an excellent opportunity to hear from leading industry experts about satellite interference, including the latest initiatives and practical solutions.

Keynote topics will include:

  • Carrier ID and how the FCC regulations will affect broadcasters.
  • VSAT interference – have new tools had the desired effect?
  • The future of big data and machine learning.

We are also undertaking a series of blog posts in the run up to the event all about our excellent workshop speakers. Our first post is about Plum Consulting and can be read here.

For more information or to register to attend, please head to our website. We are also able to organise accommodation for those of you who wish to book through us. Please contact us on press@satirg.com.

If you would like to propose a speaker for the workshop, please contact us.


New member joins IRG

We’re very pleased to announce that Novella SatComs has become a member of IRG!

Novella SatComs has been a supplier of high performance RF equipment since 1997.

Based just outside of Leeds, Novella Satcoms has designed and manufactured a wide range of equipment for satellite stations world-wide, serving many high-profile customers including the BBC, BT and the UK, USA and French MoD’s. Read more.

 


NAB Las Vegas 2017 

In April, our very own Executive Director, Martin Coleman, headed to NAB Las Vegas. Once again, the exhibition was a hive of activity, and a great venue for networking and to sample the latest industry innovations.

Whilst he was there, Martin moderated a panel titled ‘Is Technology Actually Solving Interference for the Broadcaster’, alongside Nigel Fry (BBC), Roger Franklin (Crystal), Michael Downey (Glowlink) & Bob Potter (Kratos). To read a recent IRG article on the topic featuring contributions from the panelists, click here.

Martin was also interviewed by InBroadcast, offering his perspective on the state of interference for the broadcaster. A video of this can be found here.


CommunicAsia 2017

May also meant a trip to Singapore was in order, for the CommunicAsia show.

As always, it was a busy week but also a great opportunity to catch-up up with IRG members and their latest activities.

Our CommunicAsia Interference Tour was once again a success and we would like to extend a huge thank you to those who were involved!

 


Satcoms 2017

 25 – 28 September 2017 / IET London: Savoy Place

As a result of our long-standing partnership with the Institution of Engineering and Technology, IRG will once again be promoting another of its excellent events, the 32nd edition of the Satellite Communications Systems Course (Satcoms).

IET Satcoms is the UK’s longest-running course for early-career satellite professionals, and has given hundreds of people a flying start to their careers.

The 4-day course is one of the most comprehensive, in-depth trainings on satellite communications available on the market. Its industry-focused projects enable the attendee to put knowledge into practice straight away and is designed to lead them through each topic in a logical and accessible way, bringing new entrants to the industry up to speed with the latest trends.

Book now to secure your place or visit the website for more information.


Recent News

Is Technology Actually Solving Satellite Interference for the Broadcaster?

Cyber Experts: The Truth About The Threats to Satellite.

The State of Satellite Interference (p. 20).

Future Investments in VSAT: What you Need to Know.

Plum Consulting at the IRG Annual Workshop.


Plum Consulting at the IRG Annual Workshop

As you may already know, IRG is once again holding its Annual Workshop this October, in Brighton.

We’re confirming more and more speakers each week, so ahead of the event we’ll be posting blog entries all about the latest confirmed speaker and what they’ll be discussing at the workshop.

Don’t forget, registration for the workshop is now open so don’t hesitate to confirm your place as soon as possible. You can register on our website.


Plum Consulting – Richard Rudd

Our first confirmed speaker is Richard Rudd from Plum Consulting, a leading independent consulting firm specialising in telecommunications, media and technology.

At the IRG Annual Workshop, Richard will be assessing the scale of the issue in C-band interference across satellite & terrestrial systems in a talk titled ‘C for Conflict or C for Collaboration’.

“The C band is used across both satellite and terrestrial radio systems, to varying degrees in different jurisdictions. The scale of the interference problem is expected to worsen as cellular and fixed wireless systems continue to evolve towards 5G. Directional antennas, and electronically steerable beam patterns such as those being developed under multi-user MIMO technology are also likely to increase interference levels with VSAT stations.” – Richard Rudd, Plum Consulting.

In this session, Richard will present recent relevant experience from Plum, to inform on the interference debate, and to lay out a potential way forwards – involving collaboration across both satellite and terrestrial players.