Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Satellite 2010 - Brighter Days Ahead

The opening session on Tues with the CEOs from the big four (Romain Bausch, SES; Daniel Goldberg, Telsat; David McGlade, Intelsat; and Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat) showed that the companies are more optimistic about the market than they were last year. The needs to expand bandwidth and provide communication services to less populated areas are opportunities for satellite providers. The desire for countries to provide Internet access to more of those without access today is another area where satellite can be a solution. While satellite does not have data rates as high as fiber, it can provide coverage much easier to remote areas. But some want to push higher data rates (like 100 Mb/s) over more access. It was said, "Should we get 100% access at 10 Mb/s for everyone or get 100 Mb/s access but not 100% coverage." The cost to do both is probably too high so it would make sense to give everyone access first but people love to talk about very high speed access.

There is concern about interference issues so coordination is a key issue to tackle especially with new bands and applications involving LTE, WiMAX, etc. Also concerning is that many view satellite solutions as too expensive and low in data rates when it should be an economic trade off depending on the service needs, coverage area, etc. It would not be fair to subsidize other technologies which could threaten higher data rate Ka-band implementations for satellite. But a combination of bands is the best solution depending on the needs of the service and area to be covered. Higher order modulation schemes, higher frequencies, etc. will eventually enable even higher data rates that satellite could deliver 100 Mb/s service for some needs.

The hot topics are comms on the move, security, lower power consumption (green tech), M2M/SCADA, video standards, hosted payloads, among others. There are forums on various subjects including the MSUA Conference co-located. They moved the event to the Gaylord outside of DC and found it was not large enough to accommodate all the exhibitors this year so it probably will move back to the convention center next year. That is good news for the industry.

I will have a full wrap up article covering all the RF/microwave companies we visited in the exhibition including the new products they were featuring at the show.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hybrid Car EM Radiation Concerns

There have been various reports over the last few years about possible electromagnetic (EM) radiation generated by the high current in hybrid cars being harmful. The EM radiation is due to the high AC current running from the batteries to the electric motors. Some older hybrid models were reported to have relatively high fields measured in them some exceeding what was recommended by government. This seems to have hit the news again as Israel has recently stated that they will issue a safety radiation scale for hybrids as they found some current models exceed what they recommend as the maximum exposure level per day.

I find it hard to believe that the current levels in hybrids would be high enough to cause harm to someone in the car from EM radiation but it does not seem like anyone knows for sure. It has been suspected that EM radiation from power lines can be harmful if you live close to them but I don't think that has been proven either. It is also like cell phone radiation exposure - there is no conclusive data that it is harmful. If the current level in hybrids is dangerous, then the higher currents produced in pure plug-in electric cars would be even worse as there motors are larger than those in hydrid models. It also should be possible to shield the wires if there are concerns about their safety.

Has anyone seen data on actual measured EM field values and how it compares to the allowed standards? I have also seen reports that such EM fields can be beneficial to our health so who knows how they truly affect our bodies overall. Please chime in with your opinions as this might be a topic we cover in a future article.