Offshore Microwave Communications

Offshore Microwave Communications

Claudio Paschoa

Offshore communication requirements have greatly increased in the last decade, with the market focusing on bandwidth and availability. Ceragon Networks (formerly Nera Networks) was a key player when Norway's oil boom started in the early 1970. The first system delivered was VSAT systems, followed a few years later by the first LOS microwave systems. With today's change to IO (Integrated Operations) throughout the business, Ceragon has adapted to this with new, advanced, ATEX certificated radios and stabilized antennas.

IO has now pushed the bandwidth requirement beyond what is possible and economically justifiable with VSAT systems. Today there are minimum requirement of 32Mb/s to most drill rigs and +100Mb/s on larger production rigs. Drilling rigs with IO and these requirements for bandwidth, often have no other alternative than point-to-point microwave radio solutions. But point-to-point microwave radios uses highly directional antennas which will point off target on a rig with motions in Pitch & Roll, moving from well to well and change of heading depending on weather conditions. Ceragon's PointLink has shown that it can deliver a stable and reliable communication link under these conditions. It is not influenced by propagation activities i.e. selective and/or flat fading, severe weather or rig movements.

The Evolution radio has become one of the most advanced software based radios on the market today, and there is also a special offshore version with higher corrosion protection and offshore coating. Another option is an EExnR zone 2 certified Evolution radio, which can be installed in locations not normally associated with operational microwave radios. All of these options of the Evolution are without any heavy extra weather protection or ATEX enclosures. Ceragon has over the years acquired vast amount of knowledge on how to transmit microwave signals across a water surface.

Extensive testing both in the field and in laboratory has given Ceragon the best tools to predict the performance of a microwave hop over the sea. Based on this information Ceragon has developed a quadruple space diversity system which acts as a double space diversity system both hardware wise and propagation wise. This system is proven to be the best system for protection against propagation disturbance like flat and selective fading, two of the most problematic issues when transmitting microwave signals over a sea surface. Additionally, space diversity arrangement also gives protections for temporary obstructions such as container housings in front of the antennas or helicopters blocking the radio signal. With these advanced offshore communication system rig workers now have much more freedom to communicate with family and friends, while at that same time the advanced comms enhances IO operations and overall rig communications efficiency.

NURP's AQUARIUS habitat was first named after George Bond, Pappa Topside.

#Oi2020 History

In 1980, NOAA established the National Undersea Research Program (NURP), which at the time, was America’s only federal scientific program that specialized in providing access to