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YIR: GATR Technologies
by Dean Hudson, Marketing Manager

2008: Who would have thought anyone would take a big round “beach ball” satellite antenna seriously — but that is exactly what’s happening! In 2008, more and more interest was generated by GATR Technologies' inflatable satellite antenna, which is a unique piece of high-technology engineering that performs "like a champ" against rigid dish antennas of its size and class.

The difference is that this 2.4 meter inflatable antenna system can be packed into two airline-checkable cases, easily transported (even in a small car), quickly setup by a single person, and on-satellite in less than an hour. Similarly, the system (known as the GATR) can be deflated, packed, and ready to go in as little as 15 minutes.

During 2008, GATR’s target satellite communications markets (Military, Broadcast, and Humanitarian Assistance) grew significantly. This was the result of GATR possessing the ability to deploy a large aperture antenna quickly and almost anywhere, as opposed to procuring a special-purpose satellite truck, transporting a truckload of large, heavy cases, or having to tow an antenna behind a vehicle. Furthermore, this satellite surpasses the fly-away systems in terms of its high-bandwidth and high-gain while still providing a unique small-package, lightweight, deployable communication solution.

“Our antennas fits particular niches in several marketplaces, from 'first feet on the ground' communications, to Satellite News Gathering (SNG), to contingency communications for disaster situations and recovery efforts,” states Paul Gierow, President of the Company and the inventor of the technology.

“As with any evolving technology, we have gone through a lot of changes in our system, which has literally weathered some rough storms,” added Larry Lowe, Vice President of Engineering. “We have survived the wind and rain of Hurricane Ivan and helped in Hurricanes Katrina and Ike recovery efforts. Our antennas have performed well in the arid temperatures of Afghanistan, the humid conditions of South America, the salty air of coastal Washington state, and remote locations in southern Africa. I’d say this represents a wide variety of environmental testing… just surviving the airline baggage handling is no small feat!”

2008 has been a good year for GATR, which met FCC main beam envelope requirements and achieved FCC licensing for use in a variety of VSAT networks. The company has moved to a larger production and test facility to help ramp up mainstream production as well as continuing R&D on the technology, which has resulted in the integration of a high-power amplifier and the completion of a number of SD and HD broadcasts to demo the capability and portability of it’s the GATR inflatable satellite antenna.

One of the challenges in continued development is lowering the cost of ownership. “Preliminary acceptance of our technology has been very positive,” notes Larry Lowe. “We have had the opportunity to successfully test our units in a number of field deployments, thereby proving the performance and the packaged mobility of the product. We have addressed enhancements from the data collected during these deployments, and are now working on ways to weave lowering the cost of ownership and operational expenses into the equation.”

GATR has embarked on several new partnerships over the past year or so. One key partnership is with Intelsat General and the FCC licensed both GATR and Intelsat services. GATR has also partnered with Vsee to provide an optional feature for video collaboration (secure, low bandwidth, peer-to-peer video conferencing). Another agreement is with MorganFranklin Corporation, which has expertise in systems integration and advanced communication in the broadcast industry.

GATR and the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) also developed a strong and unique relationship over the past couple of years, with a mixture of testing, training and activities such as the setup/testing of C-band in southern Africa. “The whole system fits in the back of a Cessna 206 with plenty of room for the pilot and a passenger,” states David Hoffman of MAF.

GATR and MAF also participated in the U.S. Humanitarian Mission to South America (USNS Comfort) and a training exercise on a remote island off the coast of Washington. Along these same lines, GATR has also supported the STAR-TIDES (Sustainable Technologies, Accelerated Research -Transportable Infrastructures for Development and Emergency Support) organization by participating in demonstrations at both at the National Defense University (NDU) and the Pentagon. GATR has also entered into a strategic investment and technology advancement agreement with In-Q-Tel, a firm that identifies innovative technology solutions to support the mission of the broader U.S. Intelligence Community.

2009: GATR believes the remote communications industry will remain strong, considering the wide variety of events and situations that have demanded remote, high-bandwidth, high-gain communications during the past year. GATR finds new uses for all or part of its systems and is looking forward to several international deployments worthy of an “Industry First” accolade for deployable SNG systems.

“I foresee a melding of satellite technology in the future, such as honing in on IP protocol as more of a standard for data, voice, and video,” states Gierow, “Also, as technology shrinks and power requirements become more of an issue, our high-gain antenna system is perfectly suited to address these changes.”

At the end of the day, GATR has a unique world-class solution that is “Not just a lot of hot air!”

About the company
GATR Technologies was formed in 2004 by Mr. Paul Gierow. Based in Huntsville, Alabama (a hotbed of technology, space, and defense programs), GATR has teamed with other defense and satellite companies with enabling technologies and satellite assets to provide a complete inflatable SatCom system. GATR Technologies has also been awarded a Research contract in Advanced Optics for Sensor and Scene Generation and the Company is teamed with Montana State University to develop an improved optic that performs at extremely low temperatures and high vacuum.