Satellite antenna signal amplifiers are at the heart of satellite communications challenges. The demand for connectivity and information flows is growing. The needs for power related to the increase in the transmitted outputs are constantly growing. ACTIA Telecom, the telecommunications division of the ACTIA Group, has almost 50 years of expertise in the field of signal amplifiers. With this legacy of technological excellence, ACTIA develops, manufactures and distributes innovative, reliable technological solutions on a global scale.
Our offer meets the global needs for high-power amplifiers mainly destined for geostationary satellite communications. Our range also meets the needs for satellite terminal mobility. ACTIA’s expertise is also used to help our customers choose a power solution.
SATELLITE ANTENNA SIGNAL AMPLIFIERS ARE AT THE HEART OF SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS CHALLENGES
Antennas are the starting point for all satellite communications. They are linked to a modem that converts the digital data into radio or electromagnetic wave signals and vice-versa: waves into signals. Signal amplifiers increase the reach and coverage of signals transmitted by the antenna.
The role of power amplifiers is to amplify the microwave signal converted at the antenna’s output. The output power of the transmitter at these frequencies must be high, as the satellites only receive a tiny portion of the power transmitted in their direction. These signal losses therefore have to be made up. Generally, a communications satellite can only receive a few picowatts of power from a terrestrial transmitter transmitting thousands of watts!
The weakness of the signal reaching the satellite receiver is not, however, the only technical challenge to address. This signal comes from a single location on the surface of the Earth. It may be masked by the background noise of our planet, as well as by the electromagnetic fields it produces or by various other signals that may interfere.
Satellite antenna signal amplifiers satisfy several significant constraints regarding:
- – reliability, in environments that are sometimes very demanding,
- – data security,
- – availability, including monitoring, redundancy and telemetry systems,
- – mobility.
Their design has to deal with the system’s heat management constraints, electromagnetic voltages and electrical power, software management and mechanical performance. The amplifiers must withstand environmental conditions that are sometimes extreme.
MORE AND MORE SIGNAL POWER
ACTIA is specialised in communication using satellites located 36,000 km away. The company is adapting the offer and already works for MEO (orbit at 20,000 km) and LEO (orbit between 500 km and 1,000 km) constellations. However, the long-term aim is focused on the market for communications satellites in geostationary orbit. This market generates a particularly strong desire to have even higher transmission power.
This is explained by the fact that high-power amplifiers must generate signals that are powerful enough to make up for the loss of route, reach and spread of the signal, as well as its coverage. ACTIA constantly strives to meet the ever-increasing demand for transmitter output power.
High power offers greater flexibility in link design. Armed with higher transmission power, engineers can create links with bigger data flows, using carriers with broader bandwidths and more complex modulation schemes. This performance paves the way for a wide range of satellite communications applications.
Another great advantage is that the increase of transmitter power enables a reduction in the uplink antenna opening size and therefore a more compact antenna.
ACTIA SATELLITE ANTENNA SIGNAL AMPLIFIERS MEET MOBILITY NEEDS.
Today, various satellite terminals are no longer attached to the ground. They are mobile, used for air, sea, road and tactical military or civil applications. This mobility is essential for several new satellite communication networks, also using low- or medium-Earth orbit satellite constellations.
In this configuration, the transmitter must be: small, light and therefore easy to move and consume a minimum amount of energy. The demand for higher transmission power often contradicts the requirements of mobile applications. The arrival of GaN or Gallium Nitride technology, which is a broadband semiconductor used in optronics, enables power amplifiers to combine high yield constraints with impressive output powers, whilst preserving the compact and light forms.
ACTIA develops powerful and compact amplifiers for these demanding satellite communications.
EACH TRANSMISSION HAS ITS AMPLIFIER: “TUBES” VS “SOLID STATE”
The competition between “tube” and “solid state” technologies has existed since the 1970s and the border separating them is changing slowly over time, moving towards higher powers and frequencies: in favour of solid state solutions. ACTIA’s expertise allows us to help customers choose a tube or solid-state power solution that is optimal for the application in question.
ACTIA therefore offers a range of power amplifiers to suit each transmission.
Tube amplifiers (TWTAs) have made huge progress, notably in terms of frequency and yield, but they are still a costly technology, as they include multiple technological constraints.
They are destined for high frequencies and their power generates heat, which requires a heat dissipation system. Their use must be justified by specific needs. They are notably used for national antennas. These amplifiers must resist substantial environmental constraints related to the climate, salinity, electromagnetic disturbances, etc. The ACTIA Satcom division is identified as a strategic player in this tube amplifier segment.
ACTIA also offers a wide range of solid state power amplifiers (SSPA) which are compact and can be integrated into the outer antenna arm or in a modular configuration in an indoor bay. The company is a pioneer in this solid state amplifier market since it designed and set up the first satellite transmission of a TV programme from the US to France! The specific feature of these amplifiers is to guarantee continued signal service during maintenance operations.
With this offering, ACTIA is present in various markets that use satellite communications.
VARIED SCOPE OF APPLICATIONS
On a global scale, the Group is deploying almost a thousand amplifiers used on land and at sea.
They are used to establish conventional telecommunications links for:
- – TV or radio show broadcasting,
- – remote reporting stations,
- – transportable or flyaway systems,
- – high-speed secure communications or for satellite broadband IP access.
Applications can be both civil and military. ACTIA’s customers include,
- – Space agencies,
- – Television operators,
- – Telephone system operators,
- – Public or private laboratories,
- – Research institutes,
- – Defence ministries,
- – Aviation companies.
Another big contract was signed in 2018. It applies to the design of land communication systems via satellite for the Egyptian Ministry of Defence.
INCREASED QUALITY AND PRODUCTION CAPACITY
With our regional presence regarding telecommunications: in Rennes and Lannion, the ACTIA R&D teams are developing comprehensive turnkey groups of satellite stations.
Satellite antenna signal amplifiers are then manufactured at our French production sites in Dinard, Brittany and Millau, Aveyron.
So as to enhance our industrial facilities, the ACTIA’s latest property investments have doubled the surface area of the old site located in Dinard. The site has a total area of 600 m² destined for production and tests and 600 m² of office space. The increased production capacities of this new, fully-secure manufacturing plant will enable ACTIA to serve customers more quickly and for many more years to come.
Almost 50 years after initial transmissions from our first satellite telecommunications system, ACTIA is embarking upon a new stage the company’s history linking it to this high-tech expertise. Regional presence is a strategic component for ACTIA, as we continue to innovate for these markets of excellence.
Internationally renowned for the quality of our products and services, the ACTIA Satcom division is one of the only French companies to offer this high-tech expertise. We are also one of the European leaders in this market.
Satellite communications technology plays a vital role in modern communications, meeting an increasing need for a bigger bandwidth and higher speeds. For this reason, the ACTIA Satcom division has a bright future ahead of it, to support these growing communications applications. Resolutely focused on the future, ACTIA Satcom is present in segments with high development potential: for land, sea and air.