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IoT & M2M Utilities & Renewables

September 30, 2021

Can Satellite be an Effective PSTN Replacement?

In this webinar, recorded in September 2021, we explore the challenge presented by the PSTN switch off, particularly the impact upon utilities companies. As you might anticipate, we’ll propose satellite connectivity as a solution to these challenges, but this offers you a broad spectrum of possibilities, so we explore the best options for this application. Finally, we address some of the frequently asked questions about this service.

Why are British Utilities Companies Affected by the PSTN Switch Off?

Utilities companies are particularly exposed by BT OpenReach’s decision to switch off the PSTN network, as they operate many thousands of sites currently connected using this technology. And it’s worked really well – PSTN’s astonishing availability (99.992%) is something that even FTTP may struggle to match. Security is another concern: as many utilities companies are requesting more and more data to facilitate the “smart grid”, if that data can be intercepted, that could lead to costly and reputation damaging outages.

Cellular connectivity will be the solution for most utilities sites – but not all. Remote sites may have no cellular coverage because they’re in a valley, for example, and you can’t simply move the site into 3G or 4G range. Or you may have some cellular coverage, but it’s unreliable – and so a backup, or failover, system is needed to ensure that the data can always get out.

Why is Satellite a Viable Solution?

Satellite connectivity has long been the failover for really remote utilities sites where not even the PSTN network reaches. You need very limited infrastructure – a clear view of the sky, and an antenna plus transceiver that can connect with the satellite network. These devices are not weather or location dependant; they have a 10-15 year life span, and have been built with your existing infrastructure in mind. The key here is resilience: when the cellular network is unavailable or unreliable, satellite provides an excellent primary or failover system.

Not all Satellite Connectivity is Created Equal

Satellite connectivity ranges from very small daily data volumes which are transmitted hourly, to high throughput live video streaming-capable solutions. For the PSTN switch off, you are looking at something towards the smaller end of that scale, with kilobytes of daily data, and transmission frequency measured in minutes. We would recommend either the RockREMOTE or the Cobham Explorer 540. The video explains the differences between the two services, but if you’ve any questions, please get in touch.

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