Thrane & Thrane, Volvo & VSAT


Tomorrow the Volvo Ocean Race begins its first offshore leg — Alicante, Spain to Capetown, South Africa — and Thrane & Thrane is justifiably proud of how it will help the racers keep in touch and also help us follow the action. That’s the company’s little Inmarsat mini-C dome in the foreground along with its FleetBroadband 150 (also sold as the KVH and Intellian FB150s, I think). The Volvo boats also get Sailor VHF radios– probably the 6215/6 model which has impressed me in testing you’ll hear about soon — and big FB500 systems especially useful for uploading video. That’s one job of “media crew members” (MCMs) like Groupama’s Yann Riou shown filming above. To see what this equipment and the crews are about to endure check out these video snippets from the last Volvo. And note that B&G is also proud of its serious Volvo involvement, but I have more Thrane & Thrane news…

In Fort Lauderdale last week I attended a banquet presentation of Thrane & Thrane’s new Sailor 900 VSAT antenna. I find it hard to keep up with high end satellite communications because it’s complicated and pretty exotic for the boaters I know, but I do gather that Inmarsat is getting some serious competition from VSAT suppliers as their coverage areas get larger and their required antennas smaller and less expensive. The first Sailor-made VSAT is a fairly modest 103 cm dish (40.6-inch), but what I found particularly interesting was the testing regime. Thrane & Thrane put self-contained motion measuring devices on the antenna masts of several ships on passage and then fed the most extreme data into their own multi-axis motion simulator, as seen in the video screen shot below. “It shook the building!” they said.
   At any rate, it was a bit odd to watch a lot of sat coms geeks crowding around the unveiled Sailor 700 with drinks in their hands last Friday night, but they did seem to admire the engineering. I’ll have more news soon about the measures Inmarsat is taking to protect its sat broadband market, but let me note now that Intellian has apparently solved the Inmarsat service problem for occasional FB users with airtime plans that allow users to stop service by the month at no charge. Information here. Meanwhile, today a reader tipped us to this brand new broadband ViaSat VSAT bird over the US.


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

4 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Inmarsat is about to embark on Ka Band (20GHz Downlink and 30 GHz uplink)that has the potential to provide significantly lower costs per bit due to available transmit and receive bandwidths for aviation applications.
    Does viasat plan to use its Ka Band experience to provide Ka Band commercially any time soon?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I don’t know what ViaSat is up to, Dave, but Inmarsat’s overall VSAT project promises the following:
    “With the deployment of Inmarsat-5 Global Xpress network from the end of 2014, we will be able to offer customers mobile broadband speeds of 50Mbps to terminals as small as 60cms, and speeds of up to 10Mbps to terminals as small as 20cm.”
    Promo video here:
    No surprise really that Thrane & Thrane is slated to manufacture Global Xpress systems.

  3. John Minetola says:

    Remember a couple years ago when we (on Panbo) were explaining how DirecTV was using the new Ka-band so they could put more channels and Hi-Def on a satellite?
    Well, this all ties together now, with the same situation for data instead of TV. Viasat, Inmarsat and a few satellite owners in Europe and elsewhere who serve remote areas are using Ka to provide more internet space to customers. Divide the cost of a satellite by the increased number of users of Ka to see how the price of the service will go down, or the quantity of bits/bytes that you get for your money will go up.
    “another satcoms geek with a drink in my hand”

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    KVH’s test facility now has a “hexapod motion table” able to simulate extreme sea conditions for even its latest LARGE stabilized antennas. Video here:

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