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Focus... Maritime Interoperability
author: Christian Bergan, Director of Maritime Marketing, iDirect

idirect_g1_intro_sm1110 Over the past five years, the use of VSAT technology to support mobility applications has expanded greatly. High-speed broadband communications has become a constant, universal requirement for end-users who need to stay connected from demanding and remote locations on land, at sea, or in the air.

During this period of growth, service providers have had to address key mobility challenges in order to deliver seamless and guaranteed connectivity that supports voice, data, and video applications in any business, geographical, or communications environment.

One of these challenges was the fact that VSAT equipment manufacturers were separate companies from those that produced stabilized VSAT antennas. This meant that custom integration work often needed to be done by a service provider or network integrator to make certain the solution’s components offered to a maritime customer would work as designed.


Today, however, new developments make it easier for maritime service providers to implement an onboard VSAT solution. After detailed and continuous work between iDirect and several leading, stabilized antenna manufacturers to ensure their systems successfully interoperate with one another, iDirect developed the OpenAMIP protocol as an industry-wide, open-source standard to simplify antenna-router integration.

OpenAMIP is an IP-based protocol that facilitates the exchange of information between an Antenna Controller Unit and a satellite router. The protocol allows the router to command the antenna and enables the use of Automatic Beam Switching (ABS), which transfers connectivity from one satellite beam to the next as a vessel passes through multiple footprints.

In addition, OpenAMIP and ABS enable service providers and their customers to meet government regulations by commanding the antenna to mute the signal in no-transmit zones.

idirect_g2_sm1110 Since introducing OpenAMIP in 2006, iDirect has integrated the open-source code into its mobility VSAT platform and today has established a formalized qualification program for satellite antenna manufacturers. The OpenAMIP protocol eliminates the need for proprietary coding to ensure that new antennas or routers introduced into the market will all work together. The protocol allows maritime organizations to select from a wider selection of hardware to best suit their needs.

idirect_about_sm1110 iDirect is antenna agnostic and the platform is designed to work with all major stabilized VSAT manufacturers’ products. Four leading manufacturers — Sea Tel, Intellian, Jotron and Navisystem — have already adopted iDirect’s OpenAMIP protocol and completed successful interoperability testing with iDirect’s broadband satellite routers. Numerous additional manufacturers are currently in the implementation and testing phase to receive qualification.

Through the OpenAMIP protocol, iDirect hopes to remove some of the complexity of implementing maritime VSAT solutions and promote a shared standard within the industry for technology providers to work together on making networks more reliable, manageable and affordable for end users.

About the author
Christian Bergan is responsible for the maritime market strategy at iDirect, working closely with iDirect’s global network of service providers to promote the value of VSAT technology throughout the maritime industry. With a background in both the satellite and maritime industries, Christian offers a unique blend of knowledge and experience to help educate the maritime market on the expanding capabilities of satellite communications. Prior to joining iDirect, Christian spent 20 years with IC Bergan, Inc., a family-owned business engaged in manufacturing of sensors and controls for liquid cargo handling for the global commercial shipping markets. He currently resides outside Oslo. For more information on the qualification process for OpenAMIP, or to learn more, please contact Christian Bergan at cbergan@idirect.net