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The objective of this activity is to determine a common scope for the specification and verification of Satellite On The Move Terminals (SOTM). The activity leads to recommendations for future potential new standards that will allow players in the market, such as service providers, satellite operators, and end users, to clearly understand the capabilities of SOTM terminals without having to undergo expensive and lengthy validation campaigns themselves before investing in and deploying a product.


Since the activity requires lot of interaction with the different contributors of the SOTM value chain, it is not easy to get prompt response and to schedule interviews with those contributors, especially, with the major satellite operators and SOTM manufacturers.


With no standardized way of specifying a product and no independently verified performance, informed antenna terminal selection is complicated and must be augmented through lengthy and costly trials. Terminal manufacturers are left guessing customer expectations, leading to suboptimal designs and possibly increased costs to end users. In addition, it also leaves the market open to speculative performance claims from aggressive new manufacturers and service providers wanting to establish a share of the business in this growing sector. As an example of the shortcomings, there is a lack of common standards for defining and verifying antenna electrical and dynamic performance (e.g. range of movement and speed). The antenna example clearly highlights shortcomings in how the quality/performance is currently specified and standardised. These shortcomings complicate and make the business interactions (buying/selling) of antennas inherently more costly.

This activity enables European industry to help formulate what eventually will be global reaching standards. Over time, such standards will help create a level playing field whereby competing products can be properly compared, thus protecting the industry from aggressive new entrants pushing products through to the market using a low price/low quality strategy. In a steadily more crowded mobile VSAT world, it will also ensure that unintentional interference is kept under control so that VSAT systems can offer their services optimally, as well as avoiding the need of over-specifying the product and, thus, optimizing product cost competitiveness.

Such standards define to all members of the value chain the expected performance of SOTM terminals, making the design and manufacture process, the verification process, and the final buying/selling process more efficient. The activity better prepares the players in the SOTM market for the future increased demand of satellite mobile products, as well as provide cost benefits and decrease the efforts associated SOTM market transactions. 


The scope of the activity focuses on the European SOTM market, meaning products and services provided in this region (which does not exclude non-European companies active in the European market). However, other regions can also be included, such as North America (USA, Canada), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), MENA (Middle-East North Africa), Korea and Japan. Direct contacts with many European industry representatives have been held.


System Architecture

The activity leads to recommendations for standard SOTM testing and future potential new standards that allow players in the market, such as service providers, satellite operators, and end users, to clearly understand the capabilities of SOTM terminals without having to undergo expensive and lengthy validation campaigns themselves before investing in and deploying a product.


The work consists of 4 main tasks. The first two tasks, Task 1 and 2, deals with understanding the current market conditions. The associated work details and clarifies how SOTM products and related services are specified today as they pass through the value chain from manufacturers to end-users. Task 3 targets actors of the value chain and goes further in depth to understand the needs in terms of recognizing quality and performance of products and services related to SOTM terminals. The task uncovers what information and associated proof (verification) an actor in the value chain needs to trigger a purchase/business transaction.

Task 4 formulates recommendations for standard test procedures that can be mutually recognized and are coherent and efficient in expediting such transactions as well as investigates the implications for validation/verification of products to comply with the standards.

Current status

Project has been completed. All deliverables were submitted to ESA.

Note that this initiative has been complemented by two activities;

  1. Satellite Operators Minimum Antenna Performance Requirements (SOMAP – ref GVF-101, 106): a complementary work being undertaken within the "Mutual Recognition Arrangement Working Group" (MRA-WG) introduced by the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), a non-profit, international association representing the interests of VSAT industrial players. The MRA is in charge of defining a common framework where standards and type approvals are created in a consensus manner by its members. The documents defined are mutually recognised meaning that if a product is compliant to an MRA standard and has obtained type approval; all members will recognise the product.  In the case of SOTM, the MRA created a specific sub-group “GVF-MRA subgroup of Satellite Operators Minimum Antenna Performance Requirements (SOMAP) that has been working on a relevant Comms-On-The-Move section of the GVF-101-106 document.
  2. Characterization of the Mobile Tracking Needs: This is an ARTES 5.1 (7-0.22) study aimed to design, develop and publish a database that provides statistics of motion dynamics for mobile satellite terminals. This database (with access to industry residing within ESA member states) supports the design and testing of SOTM tracking systems. The activity included a data gathering campaign and the development and population of a database.

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