SageNet operates and manages a very large satellite network, consisting of tens of thousands of satellite links for hundreds of customers. This network provides a number of strategic benefits to our clients. Yet because of the physics of satellite transmission, there are a few limitations that must be managed and mitigated to effectively use satellite as a means of data transmission.
Benefits of satellite data transmission
One of the main benefits of satellite transmission is that it can be deployed almost anywhere. It works just as well in a remote desert or an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico as it does in downtown Los Angeles. If the site can “see” the satellite, then it can transmit and fairly high speeds and with great reliability. This is especially useful for companies like Dollar General who build retail stores in very remote locations, or oil field pipelines like Phillips 66 and Trans-Canada that needs to monitor their pipelines no matter what terrain they must traverse.
Downsides of satellite
Satellite transmission is also very reliable – except in very heavy rain or snowstorms. Because satellite uses radio wave transmission, the radio waves can be attenuated and degraded by heavy precipitation. So site must take into account that they may have degraded communications during severe weather events and plan accordingly – with a backup link for example.
SageNet satellites are in geosynchronous orbit over the earth’s equator. This means they remain in a relatively static position in the sky since they rotate in synch with the earth’s rotation. However, this also means they are approximately 25,000 miles from the antenna, and it takes a bit of time for the radio transmission to get from earth to the satellite and back down to the ground link station. Anyone who has watched a television interview over a satellite link notices how it can take a second or two for the interviewee to respond to the questions from the interviewer. This is because of the latency involved in satellite transmission and is simply the result of the physics involved in satellite communications.
Satellite Hub Diversity
Because of the small size of the transmitter at most satellite end points, the transmitter has a hard time “burning through” rain and severe weather. While our antenna’s at our ground link stations are much bigger and more powerful, they can still be affected by severe weather events such as monsoon rains or heavy snowstorms. And when our hub facilities have difficulty “burning through” bad weather, it affects hundreds if not thousands of sites.
Because severe weather can have a major effect on our client’s data network, we have multiple satellite uplink facilities. This allows us to shift data transmission from one site to another in the event of severe weather. We call this “hub diversity”.
Seemless Hub Diversity
SageNet engineers have worked hard to develop what we call “seemless hub diversity”. In the past, it could take 3-5 minutes to switch all satellite transmission to a different hub site, especially when the traffic is encrypted and our systems cannot see inside the packet to understand the type of traffic. Working closely with our partners such as Fortinet, we have made it much simpler and faster to switch traffic to an alternative path with no disruption to client communications – one of the first companies in our industry to solve this difficult problem. This allows clients to keep their important data traffic such as payment systems up and running, despite severe weather conditions that could affect satellite transmission.
Another benefit of SageNet satellite services.