GVF News 16 March 2015






Fraunhofer Confirmed by Industry Consensus to Serve as GVF Authorised Test Entity

for European Expansion of Global Product-Quality Programme



Monday, 16 March 2015


LONDON - The international satellite communications industry is expanding a product-quality initiative that provides earth station testing through a mutually-recognised technical global framework. The expansion, which addresses type approval of “Satcom on the Move” terminals, is being made through contracts awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) to Fraunhofer IIS (ESA CTR: 4000103870/11/NL/NR – CCN 002 under the ESA ARTES 5.1 programme, 4000112640 on  'Standards Preparation for SOTM Terminals' under the ESA ARTES 1 programme), a Germany-based GVF Member that is one of the largest research institutes in Europe, and GVF, the international association of the satellite communications industry.


“These contracts are in response to growing demand for high-performance satellite communications equipment for use in challenging mobile environments,” said Rolv Midthassel, Ground Segment Engineer, ESA. “The contracts will lead to recommendations for new standards that will allow players in the market, such as service providers, satellite operators, and end users, to clearly understand the capabilities of SOTM terminals without having to undergo expensive and lengthy validation campaigns themselves before investing in and deploying a product.”


The project focus will be on the mobile Ku- and Ka-band VSAT market for three mobile environments: land mobile, maritime and aeronautical. The scope of work shall examine not only Europe but also other regions, such as North America (USA, Canada), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), MENA (Middle-East North Africa), Korea and Japan.


In order to define a common way to specify and verify SOTM terminals, the following aspects will be addressed:


- Analyse the current satellite mobile market segment.

- Identify inefficiencies in the business transactions (buying/selling) of products and services related to SOTM terminals.

- Identify ambiguities/inconsistencies in how products and services are specified.

- Identify the needs of the members of the value chain in terms of how SOTM terminals should be specified and how those specifications can be trusted.

- Propose solutions in the form of recommendations for future mutually recognised standards for specifying SOTM.

- Analyse the verification needs to implement such standards.


These mutually recognised standards, once implemented and having the approval and acceptance of the value chain actors, will help overcome inefficiencies in the mobile market and make transactions more fluent. 


“The industry and its customers have called for improvements in the way that ‘Satcom on the Move’ earth stations are type approved,” said David Hartshorn, Secretary General of GVF. “In support of the ESA ARTES contracts, GVF’s Mutual Recognition Arrangement Working Group will be closely involved. It has approved the addition of Fraunhofer IIS as an Authorised Test Entity, which will enable the industry to test ‘Satcom on the Move’ products and determine whether they are compliant with industry specifications.”


The global type-approvals issue has a major bearing on industry profitability and competitiveness. It has gained in importance as demand for Satcom on the Move systems and services have increased, volumes have risen, and new types of equipment are being introduced. 


“We commend ESA ARTES for its leadership and congratulate Fraunhofer IIS for its appointment as an Authorised Test Entity,” said Colin Robinson, Chairman of the GVF Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) Working Group. “Adding Fraunhofer IIS with their facility for over the air research and testing (FORTE) specially designed for testing of Satcom on the Move to GVF’s global network of ATE’s will help manufacturers to improve the design, production and performance of their satellite communications systems.”


Fraunhofer IIS will apply MRA procedure GVF-101 and GVF-105, which defines the set of standard tests that an antenna or earth station manufacturer must perform in order to apply for Type Approval from satellite operators. Use of the procedure not only improves the quality and completeness of test data, but helps reduce the time and cost required to bring new ground-segment technology to the market, thus advancing the competitiveness of satellite communications.


Authorized Test Entities (ATE's) are those individuals or organizations that the members believe are competent, impartial, and experienced enough to certify that test data taken by a manufacturer may be used with confidence by ANY satellite operator, without requiring any re-testing. Under the GVF MRA procedure, only those members of the GVF who are satellite operators may vote on approving Test Entities.


Parties interested in participating in the GVF-101, the GVF Mutual Recognition Arrangement Procedure for Type Approvals, may be downloaded from www.gvf.org/approvals/gvf-mra-documentation.html.

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