A paper recently posted by Gilat Satellite Networks postulates the combination of WiMAX wireless technology and VSAT satellite communications to create a cost-efficient network for remote sites akin to those often encountered in the oil and gas industry.
Penned by Yair M. Sakov, Vice President and General Manager for Gilat's Wireless Business Unit, the paper focused on how the oil and gas industry possesses "unique communication needs" that constantly strain the limits of cutting-edge technology. VP Sakov cited a need to provide "remote and desolated sites" with both "narrowband SCADA applications" and "full broadband connectivity."
The traditional solution has been satellite communications, such as the now-widespread VSAT maritime systems. But this solution was described as lacking "cost-sensitivity" with regards to location and distance.
VP Sakov's paper postulates that WiMAX wireless technology -WiFi's bigger brother- can provide an affordable and efficient solution to providing multiple connection points to a widely-scattered group of sites. He suggests that WiMAX be used to provide cost-effective broadband connectivity to a multitude of end points, and that VSAT technology be used to backhaul WiMAX sites.
In his proposal, VP Sakov suggested that a WiMAX base station link together a number of end-points scattered throughout a large area by way of a WiMAX Customer Premise Equipment connected to a LAN. The WiMAX Hub location will also act as a bridge to the IP core network and to the PSTN telephony network. The VSAT will then connect this WiMAX base station with other remote sites.
A network management system in the WiMAX hub is key to the entire operation. According to VP Sakov, a powerful network management system will allow the network operator to remotely manage both the VSATs and all the CPEs in the remote sites.
This elegantly simple new paradigm results in a "relatively simple network" that "combines the best of both worlds." WiMAX networks with VSAT backhauls can reach significant distances, cover large areas, and serve numerous connections all at the same time.
According to VP Sakov, such a network will provide numerous advantages. For one thing, Local Call Forwarding for calls within the same rig will no longer need satellite backhaul. This will help cut back on satellite OPEX and speed up traffic running between remotes sites served by the same WiMAX base station.
In addition, all network elements and services can now be remotely managed. This includes the multi-service networks capable of handling voice, data, and video. And the system will remain independent from terrestrial infrastructure.
VP Sakov takes time to warn that in-depth understanding of WiMAX and VSAT technologies should be undertaken before deploying such a network. The two wireless technologies possess different strengths and weaknesses. Efforts to integrate them into the new network concept must take into consideration the need to maintain their advantages while also tending to their unique needs.