European Space Agency

New low-cost Outdoor Unit enters production

Targeted at the emerging market for DVB-RCS, the Outdoor Units (ODU) consist of transceivers for Ku band and an antenna with both Ku and Ka band capabilities. Nera, the Norwegian company behind the ESA Telecom supported project, is maintaining a production capacity of 5000 units per month.

The project 'Integrated ODU' (see related links) was initiated jointly by Nera and Andrew Corporation of the UK. Their partnership developed as a result of independent studies on the need for a low cost ODU.

"This integrated ODU will increase the market share of the European space industry and raise the profile of both DVB-RCS and satellite based solutions," explained Johan Stjernevi, ESA Telecom Technical Officer for the project.

The need for a low cost ODU solution was the driving reason behind ESA Telecom support for the project, as was the need for development of antenna and transceiver technology that would truly be capable of reaching high production volumes.

It is these two factors that make the resulting ODU unique from others currently available in the market: its low cost and with an antenna (image right) capable of operation in Ku and Ka band.

Ku and Ka band antenna

To meet the low cost requirement, a significant effort towards lower production costs as well as integration of the various components in the transceiver was key to success.

Offset design

Integration reduced the number of parts that needed to be manufactured as well as the actual production cost. An added benefit can be found in a shorter installation time at end user's premises, another potential cost saving.

Savings were also made in the design of the antenna dish itself. An offset antenna (image left) design was chosen for a variety of factors including ease of installation and more rugged durability against nature.

An offset design also allows construction of the dish at a higher volume and from less expensive steel. Testing under winter conditions (image below-right) demonstrated no reduction in durability.

Full Ka band solution
So far, Andrew Corporation has produced two different antenna designs, one 65cm and the other 75cm. The transceivers themselves are available in 1-Watt and 2-Watt versions, with plans to also produce 3 and 4-Watt versions.

Low cost ODU solution

Other future plans include addition of a Ka capable transceiver to the ODU for a full Ka band solution.

"Not only has our project clearly demonstrated that transceiver and antenna equipment for DVB-RCS can be mass produced in high volumes and at a reasonable cost, but the new products we've developed will open new business opportunities for both Nera and Andrew in new and existing markets," explains Mr Michael Huggan of Andrew Corporation.

Echoing this statement, Mr Hallvard Thonstad of Nera adds: "The support from ESA Telecom has been invaluable to both Nera and Andrew, enabling us to offer cost efficient products to the highly competitive DVB-RCS market, an important milestone in achieving high volume DVB-RCS deployment."

To read more about the ESA Telecom supported project Integrated ODU, just click under related links at the top-right of this page.

All images courtesy of the Project Team

Event Date

04 October 2005
Published 06 October 2005
Last updated at 06 October 2005 - 00:00