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Technology Update - e3 systems

Technology update with e3 systems

It hasn’t been a great start to the year has it?  I was amused to read this anonymous post recently on social media:

“Dear sirs, I would like to cancel my subscription to 2021. Having tried the 7-day free trial, I am not interested”

That says it all!

However, let’s be constructive and look to the future.  There’s some great, new mobile communications tech being talked about, being developed, being launched and being made available in 2021.

In this esteemed publication and on social media channels, there have been many articles devoted to 4G and 5G over the last couple of months.  I myself covered the subject quite thoroughly last month.  I have only one thing to add, which is that I have recently seen a couple of reports about 6G being under test!!  It just shows the relentless progress of technology.

It’s time to catch up on recent activity in the satellite world.

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Constellation Progress

There is a LEO satellite project called SpaceMobile that sounds fantastic, at least on paper!   They are building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly using standard mobile phones.  As I said, it sounds fantastic. Imagine being able to use the phone you already own mid ocean, at the poles and in the middle of the Sahara!   This would resolve the challenge of developing a low-cost, consumer terminal to work with the new satellite constellations. They have already attracted some respected initial investors including Vodafone, Rakuten and American Tower.  However, there are several very complex issues which need to be resolved, not least of which is the collision risk when orbiting at only 720-740 km.  They do not have a FCC (Federal Communications Commission) licence, another company already holds the patent, and the satellite design is so fragile and unproven that it may not survive the G forces and vibration during launch.

On the other hand, Amazon’s Project Kuiper has FCC approval and has just completed its initial development on the antenna for a low-cost Ka-band phased array customer terminal based on a new architecture, and in test it has already delivered speeds of 400Mbps!

Starlink, Elon Musk’s LEO constellation is the most advanced and is in beta test in the USA.  The OneWeb constellation has started again under its new ownership.  It is the second off the block and just launched 36 new satellites on December 18th.

Kymeta launches new model u8 flat panel

Despite the millions invested by legions of competitors to develop a flat panel antenna, Kymeta is still the only company manufacturing an economically viable flat panel antenna.  It has just released a new, improved model, the u8, which incorporates significant improvements to the antenna’s initial design. These improvements result in increased gain, reduced power draw, increased operational temperature range, reduced scan loss at low look angles, integrating the power supply, SD-WAN card and modem into the terminal.  This makes the antenna a very attractive, simple plug and play device with good bandwidth.

We have taken many orders for these new panels on a number of yachts that are in build, and some that are about to be commissioned in Europe and the USA.   With this new antenna we can provide a very neat HYBRID communications solution with seamless switching between satellite and 4G.  We will report in more detail in a later issue.

Iridium Certus for Yachts

Typically, yachts have only been exposed to Iridium for handheld phones for their emergency grab bags.  Last year they launched a new constellation of LEO satellites which are now fully operational providing the new Iridium Certus service.  Manufacturers Cobham, Intellian, Thales and Lars Thrane have launched new equipment for this service.   The service is L-band and as such it is more reliable than VSAT Ku and Ka-band service which is why it is has also been selected by the IMO as an alternative to Inmarsat for GMDSS compliant equipment.  Unlike Inmarsat, Iridium provides global, GMDSS coverage as Iridium’s LEO satellites fly over the poles.

We recommend the Iridium Certus 700 as the ultimate companion for C, Ku and Ka-band VSAT systems.  Once off the beaten track, it will provide 700 Kbps connectivity to enable the yacht’s business to continue. It also serves as an out of band support connection for the VSAT and other devices in a highly reliable, small form factor terminal which is virtually maintenance free.  That is why it was chosen to be installed on all the Imoca yachts currently racing in the Vendée Globe.

Finally, Cyber Risk Management IMO Compliance is now live as of 1st January 2021.

This means that your first annual Document of Compliance audit must include documentation showing your cyber risk compliance. If you need to comply or would like to comply as good practice, we can introduce you to our Cyber Risk Compliance colleagues.

Also, if you are an Inmarsat Fleet Xpress, Fleet One or Fleet Broadband customer, we can supply a Fleet Secure Endpoint service from Inmarsat that extends your IMO compliance to your network endpoints. Your network endpoints are your business PCs, your crew and guest laptops or basically any device that can join the network.

Meet the e3 Team

Beatriz Garcia Guzmán, Admin Assistant GSM, Inmarsat and Iridium

I am originally from Madrid, and lived and worked in several European countries, including Ireland, France, Luxembourg and Italy, before coming to Mallorca in 2010.  Straightaway, I knew it was the right place for me, and I am still amazed by everything this extraordinary island offers.

I was welcomed into the big e3 family from the very first moment I joined the company in January 2018.  Since then, I have become fully integrated into the Airtime team.  I specialise in 4G and GSM, as well as Inmarsat & Iridium services, working closely with my colleague Monique.  Our aim is to understand and analyse each vessel’s needs, and to deliver the service most suited to them from within our airtime portfolio.   We know that captains and crew have really busy schedules, so we try to simplify things for them, while offering comprehensive support and assistance at all times.  I truly enjoy the daily interaction with customers and believe a high level of customer service is key to being the leaders in a competitive and demanding industry such as yachting.

My biggest challenge was my involvement in the launch of our 4G BIG DATA service, which was a great success and a real hit in the market.  This took place just as I joined the company, so it provided me with the best training I could have asked for.  The excellent results provide huge satisfaction, and I must admit BIG DATA became my “baby”!

Another priority for me is maintaining excellent daily collaboration with our service providers in order to maintain the strong relationship e3 has built with them over the years.  This close co-operation with multiple international providers is vital and allows us to offer optimal, unique and flexible commercial solutions.  In the Airtime team, we are constantly striving to keep at the forefront of ever-evolving technology and market demand.

I have experienced real teamwork in e3 with all departments, including IT, Engineering, Sales and Accounts, collaborating in order to understand each vessel´s requirements and offer tailor made solutions. Communications on board need to be approached from a global perspective, and that is exactly what e3 does.  I really like this approach, and it makes me proud to be part of the team.

Languages are one of my passions. I speak 4 languages fluently, and love working in such an international environment.  I get the opportunity to speak English every single day, as well as practicing other languages, and this makes me start work every morning with a big smile on my face!

Outside working hours, I love to spend time with my family, reading, travelling or sports, especially outdoor pursuits like hiking.  In fact, I go to the mountains every weekend, except during the warm Mallorquin summers, when I happily exchange the mountains for the beautiful beaches. I feel very fortunate to live in this little piece of paradise in the Mediterranean.  Couldn’t ask for more!


Roger Horner

For further info on e3 VSAT and SUPER DATA

e3 systems

+34 971 404 208