AMR communication via satellite

Delegates at the AMRA symposium in Washington, USA, this September enjoyed a unique experience – a tour of Orbcomm’s Network Control Centre, based in Dulles, Virginia.

The centre is responsible for managing the Orbcomm network elements and the US gateways through telemetry monitoring, system commanding and mission system analysis. It provides network management of Orbcomm’s low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation and is staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day by Orbcomm-certified controllers.

The centre was opened in 1997. Its primary functions are to:

  • Monitor real-time and back-orbit telemetry from the Orbcomm satellites
  • Send real-time and stored commands to the satellites
  • Provide the tools and information to assist engineering with resolution of satellite and ground anomalies
  • Archive satellite and ground telemetry for analysis
  • Monitor performance of the US Gateway Earth Stations (GES)
  • Monitor the status of the Orbcomm US Message Switch (OMS) and related software
  • Provide daily and weekly performance totals.

MESSAGE FLOW

A message sent from a remote subscriber communicator unit in the USA – either stationary or mobile – is received at the satellite and relayed down to one of four US Gateway Earth Stations that connect the Orbcomm ground system with the satellites. The GES then relays the message via satellite link or dedicated terrestrial line to the NCC. The NCC routes the message to the final addressee via e-mail, dedicated telephone line or facsimile. And the entire process takes less than 30 seconds! Messages originated outside the US are routed through Gateway Control Centres (GCC) in the same manner.

Orbcomms Network Control Centre

Messages and data sent to a remote SC can be initiated from any computer using common e-mail systems including the Internet, cc:Mail and Microsoft Mail. The NCC or GCC then transmits the information using Orbcomm’s global telecommunications network.

ORBCOMM has 29 satellites in low-earth orbit, with 14 gateway earth stations installed or under construction on five continents. Applications include monitoring of fixed assets such as electric utility meters, tracking of mobile assets such as commercial vehicles, and messaging services for consumers, commercial and government entities. In September this year the company announced that it had developed value-added services for the Magellan GSC 100 – the world’s first handheld, two-way global satellite communicator.

The GSC 100 employs ORBCOMM’s network of satellites to transmit and receive brief text messages to and from anywhere on earth. It is generating interest from a wide range of industries, including disaster relief, environmental and military markets. Now the ORB2You message despatching service means almost anyone can communicate with a GSC 100 user, while the ORBWeather service delivers position-specific weather reports directly to the unit.

ORBCOMM’s website carries a series of case studies and is well worth a visit at www.orbcomm.com.