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Keeping Remote Sites In The Visual Spectrum
by Christy Hartman, CapRock Communications

The need for remote communications has long been a key driver of the satellite communications industry. As industries continue to expand globally, they demand high bandwidth communication solutions and capabilities only satellite can provide. In an effort to meet this demand, satellite communication service providers must optimize their existing networks and incorporate new services to support these industries and their increasing number of remote locations.

As operations push into more remote and isolated areas, there is a growing demand for communication providers to deliver more than equipment and a broadband “pipe.” Technical experts can’t be on-site within an hour. Spare parts are not located in the warehouse next door. Clients need tools and services at their fingertips to make working at remote sites seem as though they are working at corporate headquarters. Satellite providers are adapting to this trend by developing communication platforms delivering managed products and services as integral components of critical business operations.

Two of the more popular managed services provided on communication platforms in industries with distant operations are video streaming and video conferencing. Most businesses view video services as a way to enhance communications capabilities and increase operational efficiency. Although video services have been used in the corporate office for more than a decade, they are more recently being applied in remote and isolated environments. Due to their practicality in areas such as technical support, personnel safety, as well as analysis and collaboration, remote businesses have found new applications for these services.

For many companies, the most advantageous aspect of video streaming and conferencing is their visual link into crucial offsite operations. Remote engineering and problem diagnosis is now far simpler. Quicker, more educated decisions can be made. As requirements can change drastically from one remote job to the next, satellite communication service providers should offer scalable solutions, whether it’s to support the inspection of subsea structures or to collaborate on a conference call with experts onshore.

While video services have been proven to increase the productivity at remote sites, they are of no benefit if the network can’t reach the clients. Luckily, due to a coverage area often larger than other available communication methods, satellite services already have a leg-up on the competition when providing remote communications. Still, there are a few considerations remote operations clients located around the world should understand.

First and foremost, satellite communication providers should be capable of offering a global network for their customers. The next oil or military hotspot can seldom be predicted. The communications network has to be available anywhere and everywhere to ensure video services and other communications can be provided. Additionally, companies in highly mobile industries, such as maritime, will have ships that travel to several continents and often require communication services throughout the entire trip. By providing a global network, the provider ensures the vessel will have minimal service downtime during its voyage and also removes the burden from the client of having to partner with another provider, halfway through the voyage.

Finally, clients with important remote facilities should look to their provider to offer round-the-clock customer service backed by regional support centers in key global hotspots. Advances in satellite technology have allowed for many providers to solve most client problems remotely, especially when the services are part of a total managed solution. By having 24/7 network operation centers, the provider is able to deliver proactive network monitoring and management to its clients at all times. In situations where remote assistance cannot fix the problem, remote support centers should be spread out across multiple continents, rather than be resident at only one or two locations. Multiple support locations allow for the quick dispatch of technicians to the remote site(s). This reduces provider and client costs.

As new technologies become available and remote operations continue to require advanced applications, the need for video services to provide remote technical support and troubleshooting continues to grow. By minimizing technical support staff onboard rigs, or the need to fly them out to remote sites when complications arise, providers could save millions of dollars. The cost savings alone suggests video services are not used out of convenience, but rather necessity.

Managing platforms that effectively deliver new services, providing a global network, and delivering worldwide service and support, are all components of managed services offered by communication providers. Clients with remote operations will increasingly rely on effective providers to manage such turnkey services. This will make working a thousand miles offshore just as efficient as working a few blocks away.

Christy Hartman is the Director of Market Intelligence and Communications for CapRock Communications, where she is responsible for managing the company’s market research and planning as well as developing CapRock’s global communications strategy. Hartman, who has served in various marketing positions within the financial and technology industries, holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas and a Master of Business Administration degree from Rice University.