Sweden: SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS:Expanded service options aid remote operations

Remote operations, especially drilling rig support offshore, require communications that can reach around the globe. Continuing changes and increases in data flows from well activities now require real-time access to data and personnel at the wellsite.

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Victor Schmidt
Exploration Editor

Remote operations, especially drilling rig support offshore, require communications that can reach around the globe. Continuing changes and increases in data flows from well activities now require real-time access to data and personnel at the wellsite. Satellite communications can link wellsite operations to home base expertise and executive decisions on major expenditures. The combination is bringing new levels of efficiency to remote operations.

Telemar Satellite Services provides satellite communication services and offers standard Inmarsat A, B, C, M, Fleet77, and mini-M communications. Lower bandwidth services include mini-M, MOBIQ, and Iridium services at 2.4 kbps. For higher speeds, direct subscriber lines (DSL) as well as Globalstar are available at 9.6 kbps and global area network (GAN/Fleet77) at 64 kbps. In November 2002, Inmarsat launched the R-BGAN service with Thuraya coverage giving a GPRS service of 144 kbps.

For the mobile market, packet data services include global packet data (GPDS) and mobile packet data (MPDS), which only charge the customer by the amount of data moved rather than the amount of connect time required. This can create major savings in connect time expense, depending on the customer's needs.

Internet services

Developed independently by Telemar Satellite Services, Maricom services are available worldwide. The generic message hub connects to many gateways allowing a message to be sent via the Internet and received on the other end as an email. This approach is rapidly replacing telex services, which require a dedicated direct wire connection.

Telemar offers several Maricom services, including:

  • Maricom C-mail – Inmarsat C text messaging service through the Internet
  • Maricom Texnet IP – virtual telex communication via the Internet
  • Maricom Fax – TextFax messages to mobile stations in Inmarsat A, B, M, and mini-M systems
  • Maricom Office Connect – mobile Internet email server for up to five email accounts at a single installation, which could be expanded according to requirements.

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Telemar's coverage area using Inmarsat satellites is global, providing communication wherever the oil industry operates. Extended coverage zones for mini-M and GAN shown in orange.
Click here to enlarge image

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The advantage of these services is the cost savings created by replacing dedicated telex lines with delivery over the Internet. Dedicated lines are only needed if a business requires real-time telex communications. Most business communications are of a lesser priority, so they can take advantage of the lower cost structure of low-band satellite connections, which are Telemar's expertise.

Bandwidth efficiency

Telemar has concentrated on the problem of cost-efficient communications over low bandwidth systems. The key to this technology is to use the very narrow bandwidth available for very effective communication despite the bit rate, speed, transmission time, and message length limitations.

Telemar developed a solution with several elements, including:

  • Compression of the digital data packet. For example, an empty Word document requires 47 kb of space. This reduces to only 4 kb after compression, an 80-90% size reduction
  • Full duplex transmissions in parallel. Simultaneous transmission of inbound and outbound traffic greatly increases the information flow over the one connection
  • Automatic recovery of interrupted transmissions from the point of interruption. Messages no longer have to be re-sent in their entirety
  • Automatic selection of the cheapest satellite connection available. This keeps costs to a minimum while maximizing the message traffic.

The system is flexible so that landlines can be used when in port. Standard Internet connections link the vessel's communication system into the land net for added cost savings.

A new constellation of satellites is planned for the future. Within the next two years these new "birds" will be able to handle up to 432 kbps. Other services (R-BGAN and BGAN) will be available using a terminal the size of a laptop computer making remote locations even more accessible. This will also expand communication availability into more remote areas while eliminating the cost and environmental impact of building telecommunications infrastructure and landlines into sensitive regions. Satellite services have a smaller footprint than traditional copper communications and do not require a large infrastructure to provide communication services.

For more information, contact Bjorn Johansson, Telemar Satellite Services. Tel: +46 31 89 73 40, fax: +46 31 89 73 99, email: bjorn.johansson@telemar.se, website: www.telemar.se.

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