Great ideas often take time, time to develop, and time for people to appreciate their value. This is especially true in the ever-changing world of technology where ideas are tested and challenged before they take a final form. To understand how this works, and what kinds of great products can develop from the “ideation” process, we spoke with Principal RF Engineer Bosui Liu and Vice President for R&D Tom Monte, who received a patent for their work on the technology behind KVH’s TracPhone V11-IP Ku/C-band VSAT satellite communications antenna.
KVH: The two of you just recently received a United States Patent for the work you’ve done on KVH’s TracPhone V11-IP technology. This product has been in the marketplace for a few years now so can you tell us why it’s still important?
Bosui Liu (BL): Although the original product was launched several years ago, we still have not seen any competitors come up with a similarly compact and high-performance solution which can provide both Ku and C band service in a single dome without swapping out any components. Our TracPhone V11-IP is still a unique KVH offering in this market. It enables customers to access high-speed Internet when they are in Ku satellite coverage and maintain the link anywhere in the world with the C band satellite coverage.
Tom Monte (TM): This is important because Ku-band is more sensitive to rain face and the attenuation due to rainfall can be up to 10 dB. The attenuation on C-band signal due to rain fading ranges from only 0.4 dB to 1 dB. Even within Ku satellite coverage, the C-band service is available during Ku-band rain fading.
BL: That is why it is important to protect this design.
KVH: What does the patented technology do?
BL: The patented design is a Ku/C-band VSAT antenna feed assembly and accomplishes several things. For example, the feed assembly can provide C band or Ku band VSAT operations with automatic electronic switching, it has matching radiation patterns for Ku and C bands so that both applications can share the same main reflector, and the Ku band signal paths allow for skew adjustment to achieve the best Ku band operation.
KVH: What made you two realize you had something that was worthy of being patented?
BL: We always knew that we are inventing something new and there was no Ku/C band combo antenna in the market, although the demand had been there for a while. If the design was simple and straightforward, our competitors would have offered it already. The fact that we are the first to launch such a product means that we invented something truly unique.
KVH: What problem does this invention solve?
BL: Dedicated Ku band or C band VSAT antennas already exist in the market and there are even hybrid antennas whose components can swapped out to make them work in either C band or Ku band. Such solutions are expensive, cumbersome and constantly needed technical support to switch between different bands of operation. But there was no solution that provided both Ku and C band service in a single antenna without the need to swap out components.
TM: As we mentioned, the antenna feed assembly we invented provides Ku/C-band VSAT operation with automatic switching when the vessel travels from Ku band coverage area to C band area or vice versa. Customers access the Internet through the same modem without even noticing that the vessel has travelled to a different coverage area. In the past, this transition needed to have experienced personal switch data services between two different antennas and modems, or even swap out RF components in the case of a hybrid antenna.
KVH: How does this help deliver broadband …what does the invention mean for KVH and its customers?
BL: This patented technology enables KVH to offer a unique Ku/C-band VSAT, dual-mode combo antenna, the TracPhone V11-IP, which provides true global coverage. It completes our VSAT product line as our flagship offering at the high-end of our product line offering. In short, it enables our customers to enjoy always-on broadband connectivity anywhere in the world!
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