Emergency Responders: Everything You Need to Know About Selecting FlyAway Terminals

Minimum Requirements of a Flyaway Terminal in Emergency Communications

Knight Sky SkypointThe flyaway terminal has evolved from both, a technical and marketing standpoint. Taking these developments into consideration, Knight Sky believes that there are minimum requirements that a flyaway terminal must satisfy in the Emergency Communications Management domain.  For a flyaway terminal to be both, cost and mission effective during an emergency response situation, it needs to meet or exceed the following criteria:

  • It must provide for easy antenna assembly that requires minimal training and experience by the operator in the field.
  • It must incorporate automatic acquisition of satellite signal (a.k.a. auto-point) for simplified operation.
    • Auto-point allows direct access to the satellite network and obviates the need to call into the Network Operations Center for peak-and-pol functionality to lock on to the required satellite.
  • It must be designed for airline checkable packaging (i.e., be IATA-compliant).
  • It must support or exceed service data rates up to 10 Mbps (downlink) and 2 Mbps (uplink).

Key Criteria to Meet Emergency Response Mission Needs

Once we are clear about the minimum requirements for a flyaway terminal in the Emergency Communications Management domain, we need some key measures that must be met from a packaging, operational and use case standpoint.

  • Datasheets and technical specifications do not tell the whole story, especially in Emergency Response situations, where answers to the following questions need to be known beforehand:
    • Is the flyaway terminal well protected when packaged?
    • How easily does the flyaway terminal’s antenna set up?
    • Is the flyaway terminal sturdy and stable during operations?
  • Reliability of the flyaway terminal during the operational phase, especially in Emergency Response situations, must be established:
    • How easy is it to point the flyaway terminal?
    • Does the flyaway terminal maintain peak over time?
  • Use case scenario, especially in Emergency Response situations, must establish if the flyaway terminal is the right tool for the job:
    • After the flyaway terminal is deployed, is it capable of long term sustainment?
    • Is the flyaway terminal capable of supporting the requisite number of users?

Integrated vs. Non-Integrated Flyaway Terminals

Now that we have established the minimum requirements of the flyaway terminal and ensured that it fulfills the key criteria to meet emergency response needs, we need to choose between two different classes of the flyaway terminal – integrated vs. non-integrated. To better understand the distinction between these two classes, we present below the pros and cons for each in Table 1: Integrated (One-stop shop) vs. Non-Integrated (Build-Your-Own).  The table also defines the two classes of terminals and highlights a few manufacturers in each class as well.

 

 

IvN table

Table 1: Integrated (One-stop shop) vs. Non-Integrated (Build-Your-Own)

It is obvious from an evaluation of the pros and cons of the Integrated and Non-Integrated terminals that depending on the Emergency Response situation, either option could work given the requirements that an incident site demands? But the key takeaway is that a Non-Integrated flyaway terminal packaged by a 3rd Party integrator provides the best solution to the Emergency Responder (ER) because the 3rd Party integrator leverages the pros and alleviates the cons of any of the flyaway terminal manufacturers.

Conclusion

From a Knight Sky perspective, we have developed a fully outdoor-rated compact baseband unit, which includes a VSAT modem, Enterprise IP router and VoIP PBX that can seamlessly integrate with several of these flyaway terminals. Knight Sky thus provides the following benefits to the ER end user:

  • ER gets an engineered and tested flyaway terminal with a single point of support.
  • ER retains flexibility in component upgrades and replacement.
  • ER benefits from efficient and economical packaging.
  • ER is not locked into any single manufacturer.

Knight Sky is introducing the first in its SkyPoint line of FlyAway Terminals at the Satellite 2016 show in March 2016. This terminal falls in the category of Non-Integrated flyaway terminals packaged by a 3rd Party integrator and it is specifically targeted at the Emergency Response market segment.  To learn more visit us at Satellite 2016 — Gaylord National Convention Center, Booth #1451 or check out our web site at http://www.knight-sky.com/knight-sky-documentation.html

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