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BT assures Brazilian satellite services resilience with industry-first site diversity innovation
From time-to-time, everyone’s inconvenienced by wild weather. But for people and businesses relying on satellite comms, it can be much more than a minor hiccup. BT is entrusted with assuring the availability of those services, which, for some, can be literally a matter of life and death.
To reduce the effects of tropical storms on its satellite services in Brazil, BT commissioned an inventive architecture. One of a torrent of BT good ideas. Now, when bad weather strikes, transmission links can be seamlessly switched between the main BT teleport in Hortolândia and an all-new alternative station in Jaguariuna.
We believe our site diversity programme in Brazil is a world-first and a great example of BT innovation. It gives us a unique capability; well ahead of other satellite service providers in the region.”
- Daniel Junge, Vice President, Service Assurance BT Global Services
Achieving always-on satellite service
BT is proud of its services’ reliability. But despite meticulous planning and impeccable design, some things are simply beyond its control. While the BT global network routinely withstands freak events like tsunamis, remote parts of the Amazon basin rely on satellite links. There, local weather like the rain effect on Ku-band spectrum can disrupt service.
So-called rain fade is the main factor in reducing satellite availability. Norberto David, senior leader planning and engineering at BT Technology, Service & Operations, explains: “Brazil is renowned for its extreme downpours, particularly in tropical and equatorial regions.”
Even though BT carefully chose Hortolândia near São Paulo as its satellite traffic hub, severe storms can still disrupt connectivity. Keen to find a way to mitigate that risk, BT commissioned a study in partnership with university researchers and Gilat Satellite Networks.
Careful weather analysis assures risk mitigation
Daniel Junge, vice president for service assurance at BT Global Services, says: “The solution was to create an industry-first architecture; building a second teleport distant from Hortolândia. Interconnected over fully-redundant optical fibre this would allow switching between antennae without service impact.”
Finding the right location for the new teleport, to minimise the probability of heavy rain simultaneously at both sites, would be critical to the project’s success. The search analysed things like terrain-related micro-climates and historic weather records. Jaguariuna, 30km from Hortolândia, was ideal. Norberto David says: “Close enough to enable data synchronisation, Jaguariuna was a continent away in climatic terms.”
Uninterrupted service proven with seamless switching
Building the teleport at Jaguariuna involved significant investment by BT, requiring new infrastructure like power supplies. Work to construct the equipment room and erect the 9.1 metre antenna was matched by engineering the optical fibre route back to the main hub. New technology, designed to seamlessly switch services between Jaguariuna and Hortolândia, was key to the solution.
Beacon signals are monitored at both earth stations, with the system deciding the optimum route based on their levels. Switching from the main to the diverse site and vice versa happens before degradation affects traffic patterns and is completely invisible to end users. Customers simply enjoy more reliable connectivity, moving satellite communications towards the 99.999 per cent availability enjoyed over BT terrestrial networks.
The new diversity site very quickly proved its worth. Daniel Junge concludes: “The day following go-live there was a severe storm over Hortolândia and our diversity arrangements automatically came into service. It all worked like a dream with zero impact on our customers, and it’s continued to do so ever since.”
- BT Connect satellite services