ECC decision to enable better broadband satellite service for trains, planes and ships

13 Mar 2013

Plane, trains and ships may receive better broadband satellite service within weeks now that the expert group responsible for harmonising the efficient use of the radio spectrum across Europe has agreed upon the introduction of better broadband connections.

The Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) has agreed to a key decision at its meeting in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, this week that will enable better broadband connections by satellite to ‘moving platforms’, such as trains, ships and aircraft.

The ECC has identified the technical and operational requirements for the harmonised use of Earth Stations On Mobile Platforms (ESOMPs) operating in geostationary satellite networks in certain parts of the ‘Ka-band’ (17GHz-30GHz) to ensure existing services, particularly fixed satellite service and fixed service networks, are protected from harmful interference.

The ESOMPs will use frequencies in the Ka-band range. Since Ka-band satellites typically use small spot beams, this will lead to increased spectrum efficiency and allows for small user terminal antennas, providing more capacity and less expensive implementation than existing mobile systems in the Ku-band of 12GHz-18GHz.

What are Earth Stations On Mobile Platforms?

ESOMPs operate in the fixed satellite service networks and are terminals with small directional antennas for the provision of broadband communication services.

The terminals may be mounted on aircrafts, ships or land vehicles or may be transportable devices used in motion or at temporary halts.

ESOMPs on aircrafts and ships may operate in national airspace and waters, or may also operate in international airspace and international waters.

To enable the new services to be deployed, the ground-based satellite dishes have to be very stable to point at the correct satellite and not to interfere with the other satellites orbiting the Earth. Advanced techniques, including dynamic control from the satellite, now enable this to be achieved in frequencies designed for fixed Earth station use.

In addition, the relevant national administration of the country where a ship or aircraft is registered will have to authorise the use of ESOMPs on the planes or vessels.

Satellite image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic