Regulations respond to Satcom needs on the rig

by Staff Reporter | June 16th, 2012

Morten Hagland Hansen, vice president, global engineering and operations, RigNet

When ictQATAR awarded the VSAT licence to RigNet in 2011, it spurred an expansion drive that saw RigNet, which has its ME headquarters in Doha, invest in an iDirect hub.

Morten Hagland Hansen, vice president, global engineering and operations, RigNet, speaks to SatellitePro ME.

The award of the licence and a subsequent investment in an iDirect hub are significant for our operations

In May 2011, RigNet Qatar WLL, a subsidiary of US-based RigNet, Inc., a provider of managed communications to the oil and gas industry, was awarded a licence to provide VSAT services within Qatar. “The award of the licence and a subsequent investment in an iDirect hub are significant for our operations,” says Morten Hagland Hansen, vice president, global engineering and operations, RigNet. He explains, “The iDirect hub allows us to service our customers on a shared network. This was not possible with our previous access solution.

The Time Division Multiple Access or TDMA is now enabled and that will allow us to use bandwidth more efficiently and service a wider range of customers as compared to our legacy Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) connection.” iDirect’s TDMA utilises bursting time slots, from the remote to the hub, to send its data and allows multiple remotes to share the same bandwidth among each other. This solution, Hansen says, can provide considerable flexibility to service providers such as RigNet. It offers the service provider the flexibility to under or over subscribe a network depending on the type of service and the service level agreement they are offering to their customers, much as the phone companies do. TDMA allows for efficient, shared two-way satellite IP transmission.

“TDMA allows us to respond to our customer needs more quickly, and it offers a cost-effective alternative for remote sites that have smaller scale communications requirements where there is a large number of sites able to share available bandwidth,” explains Hansen. From RigNet’s Middle East headquarters in Doha, Qatar, Chris C. Lambert, RigNet’s general manager for the Middle East, stated: “With the deregulation of Qatar’s fixed and mobile telecommunications market, ictQATAR has awarded RigNet a VSAT licence, that will enable us to continue our service to the oil and gas community and, potentially, other vertical markets within Qatar.”

Having worked with iDirect solutions extensively since 2003, RigNet approached iDirect to install the new hub to respond to the increased opportunities arising from the award of the licence. Built on the next generation DVB-S2 transmission standard with Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM), the iDirect Evolution platform, according to the manufacturer, delivers bandwidth efficiency and increased service availability. Need for regulations for satellite-based networks in the MENA region

Commenting on the Middle East in general, Hansen believes that the regulatory framework poses challenges for service providers such as RigNet. “The oil and gas industry is a fast moving industry and our clients’ operations shift based on market demands and other factors. We, in turn, need to respond and provide highly reliable communications services wherever they are required.

However, while the regulatory framework has traditionally focused on terrestrial networks, satellite based communications are relatively neglected. Countries in the Middle East need to create an enabling commercial environment in tune with the needs of vital sectors such as oil and gas.” As a managed services provider, RigNet delivers turnkey solutions for installing and managing VSAT networks.

“We have used iDirect’s platform since 2003 that has enabled us to support a wide range of applications such as broadband data, voice and video communications, as well as real time data management.” The new iDirect hub can potentially extend RigNet’s VSAT coverage in the Middle East. However, regulatory progress towards a commercial, more open environment, as per Hansen, in the various countries in the region, will bridge the gap between the actual and potential coverage. With VSAT licences in both Qatar and Oman, the company, Hansen believes, is poised to leverage the technical advantages of the new iDirect hub in Doha.

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