Satellite communications: where and how it is used

Satellite communications and Arctic exploration

The development and development of the Arctic region is associated with the oil and gas and transport sectors, but the topic of Arctic tourism is gaining special popularity. This is where the problem arises. The territory referred to the regions of the Far North accounts for more than 50% of the country’s territory, and it is not fully developed.

Telecommunications infrastructure should play an important role in this development. The reality is that the usual Internet connection in the Arctic is provided by special order, and telephony (cellular communication) is available only in large settlements.

Residents of remote areas (about 2.4 million people live in the Arctic zone) are without communication, sometimes they are not able to call for help or contact the “mainland”, for example, to deliver food and medicine.

Attempts to lay cables and establish communications often end in failure. In the Arctic, the weather conditions are harsh, and small settlements are far from each other, so it is not economically profitable to lay fiber optic. The only solution available is satellite communication.

Expeditions and research play an important role in the development of the Arctic. All travelers faced communication problems.

Long distances and constantly moving ice have ruled out wire communications, magnetic storms and the aurora borealis have ruled out short-wave radio communications.

In 2015, Russian traveler Sergei Ananov, who was making a solo round-the-world helicopter flight, was forced to urgently land in the bay between Greenland and Canada. He was able to swim to the ice floe, but there a new danger awaited him – polar bears. Everything ended well – after almost 36 hours he was picked up by a Canadian rescue helicopter.

Sergei used flares, but he managed to attract the attention of rescuers only on the third attempt. If he had a device with a stable connection, salvation would come much faster.

Communication is also important for shipping. Satellite communications are vital for merchant and fishing vessels – most of the vessels sailing in the Arctic do not enter ports at all. This means that satellite communication is the only way for them to contact their loved ones.


Satellite and industrial IoT

Satellite communications cover 100% of the earth’s surface and have a good signal for transmitting information. This is why great hopes are pinned on its synergy with industrial IoT systems. It is safe to say that the digitalization of industry and production will change the approach to related areas, including satellite communications. The usual M2M services are already replacing Big Data processing and analytics software systems.

Developed terrestrial and cellular communication networks remain one of the IoT data transmission methods. Their significant disadvantage is a small cellular coverage area, it is only 20% of the Earth’s surface. IoT systems for the most part do not require a high data transfer rate or a large volume of traffic, which indicates the possibility of making satellite technologies one of the methods for transmitting the generated information.

Such technologies will become indispensable in shipping, aviation, offshore development, and production in regions remote from the connected infrastructure.

The synergy of industrial IoT and satellite communications can control the production, movement of technology and resources, having coverage of 100% of the entire earth’s surface. For example, airlines that transport bulky cargo around the world can transmit the coordinates and headings of aircraft, aircraft flight parameters and distress signals using satellite communications.

Satellite communications and the environment

Satellite communications are actively used in the environmental sphere. Collars equipped with satellite communications are being successfully introduced to monitor and track rare and valuable animal species.

The Amur Tiger Center in the Jewish Autonomous Okrug actively uses tracking of animals that were released into the wild.

The collar tracker helps employees locate animals with ease. Several years ago, a couple of tigers were released into their natural environment, equipping them with special collars with a beacon. Such a collar has a built-in GPS-module and a satellite communication modem, which provide access to the route.

These devices help employees monitor movements in the reserve and monitor the adaptation of animals to natural conditions. This technology is regularly used to preserve the Red Data Book species of animals.

The same kind of trackers are popular for the control of animals with valuable furs. This helps to monitor the abundance and analyze the behavior of small animals.

In Chukotka, reindeer herders use satellite communications. There is a state program for equipping reindeer with collars. This helps local nomadic peoples find herds in the tundra.

photoShutterstock/Vera Larina

Trends and forecasts

In the future, satellite communications will remain the main form of communications for the Arctic region. In areas with low population density, terrestrial networks are financially ineffective and often unprofitable.

For example, in America satellite Internet access is developed using VSAT technology.Very Small Aperture Terminal, this is tens of thousands of connections per week. The situation is similar in Brazil – 4-6 thousand connections per week.

Active development of fiber-optic communication lines in RussiaFiber optic transmission line the last 10 years has been happening only due to state subsidies. Trends in systems such as Starlink and OneWeb show that satellite networks are the most effective for covering the entire globe.

Satellite communications will not disappear. It will change. Analysts predict that in a couple of years, new technologies will be created that will increase speed, reduce delays and reduce costs, which will increase the availability of satellite communications.

We can say with confidence that satellite communications will become an integral part of industry and production. Whether it’s fuel consumption monitoring, equipment operation or vehicle monitoring.

This is due to the fact that only a small part of the planet is provided with traditional terrestrial means of communication, in the rest of the main assistants are satellite technologies. For Russia, this is especially important given its vast territories.

On the domestic market, there are already examples of mining companies that install satellite equipment on industrial equipment and receive analytics from remote corners of the country. This is the main direction for the development of the satellite industry.

If we talk about 5G, then the satellite will not compete with the new type of communication, but it will perfectly complement it.

It’s all about the specifics – 5G will develop where there is a high population density and a large amount of traffic is needed. Satellite communication is intended for areas with low density and low traffic volume.

According to our observations, satellite communications also occupy a special place in the IoT segment. In the coming years, employers will take more care of the safety of employees and actively introduce non-contact methods for monitoring and managing equipment and facilities.