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The main driver for the take up of satellite interactive services is the development of low cost and user-friendly DVB-RCS terminals.

Low costs installation solutions lead to the reduction of the overall ‘cost of ownership’ that takes into account both service investment costs and operational costs.

Toady professionals installers are required to perform the installation procedure that is very similar to VSAT one and therefore expensive.

The high installation costs impact seriously the overall system operational & capital expenses and thereby the satellite operators and/or network operators decision to develop and/or deploy DVB-RCS systems. The overall price of the DVB-RCS terminals, including the installation costs, are in addition perceived as prohibitively expensive by many end users.

The following criteria have been considered by the Group to target a low cost installation mechanism:

  • Reduce the Time to perform installation: time is money and the cost of installation increases the longer a professional installer spend at the customer premises.
  • Minimize installer skill & competencies (few hours or no specific training required for those installing DTH): reduction of required skill is also likely to reduce installation time and it is not far from Do It Yourself concept.
  • Installer shall be autonomous (no need for call to Network Operation Center): the installer should rely as minimum as possible to external services that could impact on assistance costs, telecommunication costs, installation time and constraint on telecommunication coverage.
  • Minimum tooling required (sophisticated tooling shall be avoided): although is acknowledged that tools can be a great help in speeding up the installation process and making it simpler they can impact on required installer skill and tooling costs. Specific tools developed for DVB-RCS might be advantageous.
  • Maintenance of installation: it strongly depends on the chosen installation mechanism and antenna maintenance tooling design. These factors have a strong impact on geographical coverage requirements of the installer network and therefore on the costs.

An activity answering to this need has been proposed to ESA through the COSYSIT project. Its goal was to address the mentioned points by analyzing antenna and ODU assembly, antenna pointing, IDU configuration, cable installation and installation acceptance and diagnostic.

ESA also recently supported the following projects:

  • ELU (Easy Line-Up) that developed a product allowing earth station antenna alignment for two-way satellite communication systems in an automatic way,
  • ALUSAT (Always Up Satellite Terminals) that aimed at optimising the operation of 2-way satellite networks by enabling maintenance procedures which minimize operational costs caused by service failures, and
  • UNISAT (Uniform Management and Control of DVB-RCS Terminals) that will adapt the SatMotion-Pocket product of IntegraSys to Satlabs Harmonised Monitoring and Control recommendations. Satmotion-Pocket will make use of the SatLabs-recommended DVB-RCS Management Information Base (MIB), enabling vendor independent terminal configuration and antenna alignment of DVB-RCS terminals compliant to the Harmonised Monitoring and Control specifications.

Simplifying the installation of DVB-RCS antennas can also be achieved through a Motorised Antenna Mount, even to the point of making it simpler than current DTH antennas. In order to encourage such development, ESA had initiated a project for a Motorised Antenna Mount for bi-directional Satellite Terminals.