Telecommunications must be on the agenda during business continuity planning because of the potentially enormous consequences of an interruption. Given the stakes involved, a thorough plan should include a satellite communications component.
Satellite delivers a dependable communications backbone during a variety of situations that could disrupt terrestrial networks. While MPLS circuits, DSL and other terrestrial networks are vulnerable to everything from cable cuts and power outages to floods and fires, satellite serves as a reliable backup.
Many organizations plan to leverage their cellular network in the event of an outage, with all critical communications shifting to mobile devices. That’ll work — most of the time. While cellular is clearly an essential part of the telecommunications infrastructure, it can be vulnerable to the same disasters that interrupt terrestrial service. For example, Hurricane Harvey knocked out roughly 5 percent of the cell towers along its path through Texas and Louisiana in August 2017, including 7 of 10 towers in one particularly hard-hit area.
The problem is that cellular, despite being a wireless service, is heavily dependent on terrestrial infrastructure. Cell towers require a power source and backhaul through terrestrial circuits in order to function. Although most cell towers have batteries and/or fuel generators to provide extended backup, they can still go down if they are damaged or flooded.
Satellite solutions have comparatively modest infrastructure requirements. They need little more than a power source to function, and they don’t need terrestrial connections to transport voice or data. They don’t require physical proximity to infrastructure such as cell towers because they receive and send signals via a satellite transponder orbiting the earth.
Cost was once a significant obstacle to satellite communications. Advanced systems required significant investments in equipment and recurring fees. That’s no longer the case. It’s now possible to eliminate the CapEx investment in satellite communications by working with a provider who delivers it as a service. SageNet, for example, offers a variety of fixed and mobile satellite communications solutions on a flexible, as-needed basis through its Emergency Communication Services (ECS) suite.
SageNet has deployment expertise with the most popular forms of satellite communications — VSAT (very small aperture terminal) and BGAN (broadband global area network), as well as a hybrid solution. All can be rapidly deployed to provide connectivity to support a range of needs.
VSAT solutions typically involve fixed antennas and provide high-bandwidth connections for organizations that need to move lots of data to a high number of users. SageNet’s “6x2” service is a VSAT transmitting on the Ku-band with peak upload speeds of 2Mbps and download speeds of up to 6Mbps. SageNet also offers a more mobile VSAT solution for emergency situations requiring fast implementation. Our Quick Deploy VSAT antennas can be mounted on a vehicle or provided in a “fly-away” configuration that is shipped in travel cases for assembly onsite.
Although BGAN offers slower data rates than VSAT, these terminals have the advantage of being lightweight, portable and extremely easy to set up. BGAN is capable of providing connectivity while in motion and in severe weather conditions.
SageNet has also developed a hybrid solution that offers advantages of both Ku-band VSAT and BGAN in a weatherproofed housing, along with a remotely managed router. Connectivity is seamlessly switched from the primary VSAT to BGAN in severe weather, and service is automatically switched back to Ku-band VSAT once a connection is reestablished.
Cellular communications are indispensable and they often can provide adequate backup in the event of a telecommunications network outage. But there are limitations, and cellular often is vulnerable to the same calamities that shut down terrestrial networks. Satellite solutions fill in the gaps to ensure that lines of communication remain open in the event of a disaster.
SageNet will be demoing its satellite communications solutions in Booth #3278 at IWCE 2018 in Orlando, March 7-8.