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VSAT Site Survey

 

The VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) is a telecommunication system based on wireless satellite network. Although it is easily implemented due to the wireless nature of connectivity, a critical issue that cannot be ignored during a VSAT installation is the site survey.
Essentially, the site survey should be comprehensive enough to ensure the VSAT is delivered with all items necessary for a rapid and complete installation. Since VSAT’s by nature are often installed in in-accessible locations, the installer should not have to wait on site until a cable or connector is flown in. So what should look out for to make a site survey effective?

The following checklist is essential for your site survey:

Where are you going to put the antenna?

  • Does the site have a clear unobstructed view to the Satellite?
  • Is the area clear of all hazards, e.g. trees that may fall onto the antenna?
  • Do you need planning permission and/or permission to use the access roads to the site?
  • Is the site susceptible to flooding and/or subsidence?
  • Is there any possibility of future construction work in the vicinity, which may result in the obstruction of the antenna beam (e.g. tall structures, fast growing trees and bushes)?

How are you going to support the antenna?

  • On a penetrating mount
  • On a dedicated load bearing mount
  • On a wall or other such structure
  • Is the ground or wall capable of bearing the load of the antenna?

Where are you going to install the ODU (Outdoor Unit/s)?

  • On the antenna structure
  • In an enclosure
  • Elsewhere

Where are you going to install the IDU (Indoor Unit/s)?

  • Will they be in an equipment room?
  • Do you need air conditioning?
  • How are you going to run the cables from the ODU to the IDU’s?
  • Do you need cable ducts installed?
  • How long are the cable runs?

Power

  • Is there sufficient reliable power or do you also need to install either/or UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) or Generators?
  • Is there grounding provided?

Lightning Protection

  • Is there any lightning protection installed?
  • What type of material is it, copper, aluminum?
  • What is the cross-sectional area of the material?
  • Is it solid rods or tape type construction?
  • Are you able to utilize it for protection of your equipment?

Access and Security

  • If the site is secure, can you gain immediate access?
  • Access routes should be adequate for the conveyance of the equipment during the construction.

Health and Safety

  • You need to consider this from the point of view of both your own personal safety when installing the VSAT and the safety of others who may come into contact with the site during and after the installation, e.g. do you need to fence the antenna off to keep people at a safe distance?

Local Labour

  • Do you need any specialist help, e.g. cranes, crane drivers, welders, or electricians?

Interference

  • There are basically two possibilities for RF interference
  • Interference from other telecommunications installations
  • Interference from your installation
  • Typically, this interference is to or from terrestrial microwave installations operating in the common transmit frequency from radar, high voltage power lines and corona discharge also needs to be considered.
  • Natural geographical bowls or depressions within which the VSAT may be located may aid site shielding.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to resort to artificial shielding via man-made

Environmental

  • Allowances need to be made for the prevailing meteorological conditions. Statistical data on the following need to be obtained and taken into account, as any excess may require extra protection and / or treatment plus careful sealing of connectors.
  • Wind velocity and prevailing direction, (mean, gusts, maximum).
  • Rainfall
  • Ice and snow accumulation.
  • Temperature and humidity ranges
  • Prevalence of sand or dust storms.
  • Abnormal salinity (near marine environments)

Items required for completion of a site survey

  • Cameras (both digital and disposable)
  • Map
  • GPS receiver
  • Compass
  • Inclinometer
  • 1m rule
  • Architects tape
  • Road distance wheel
  • Screw drivers (flat and cross head)
  • Clipboard, form and pencil.

 

I hope this has given you an idea of what you need to carry out a VSAT site survey. Completing a comprehensive site survey prior to installation ensures success and the delivery of a VSAT solution that meets your requirements.

By:

Paul Ajibola

Paul Ajibola is a Telecommunications Engineer with vast experience in the installation, training, and support of VSAT, Satellite Systems and Telecommunications Networks.

With over 100 VSATs and 2,000 satellite dishes installed, he also has extensive knowledge in Networking and Technical Support. 

Find out about Telecom Training here:

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