Choosing a VSAT Provider
Service is everything! | The challenges of providing satellite service. | How long does it take before you can talk to someone that knows? | To continue in English press 1. | Is your power switch turned on? | Smaller companies provide personal service and expertise. | Larger companies have more resources |
While some technologies have small advantages over others, most produce somewhat satisfactory or good results. Almost anyone can purchase and resell teleport hub technology, satellite terminals and satellite space segment. Not everyone can provide excellent service, or the necessary experience to keep the customers satisfied.
The one differentiating factor between satellite service providers is the level of service that you receive during the commisioning of your system, when you call call in for help, and the level of experience of the technician that installs or troubleshoots your system.
If you consider all that is required to keep a tiny satellite dish pointed at a satellite that is 22 300 miles away, within a fraction of a degree, while the vessel rocks and rolls and changes course on the ocean below. If you think of the blockage from land masses, buildings, the ships superstructure and other surrounding hazards. If you consider the effect of a thunderstorm, near the vessel or the teleport. Relying on the ships compass to give a consistent heading and the GPS to give an accurate position. Hoping that the adjacent satellites, spaced just 2 degrees away, will not have a stronger level than the signal you are tracking or that there is not some other interference lurking on your vessel, or the boat across the anchorage. And then there are the challenges of changing satellite beams while you move from region to region.
Not to mention the IP issues, network bottleneck issues onboard, and on shore, that could slow down your network. And we have not even talked about telephone issues.
As a 21 year veteran of satellite communications, I am still amazed that the whole system works as well as it does.
With all these complexities, the odds are that you will, at some stage, need some assistance from your service provider.
In my opinion, the best services would provide the quickest navigation, straight to technical support, to a person that knows exactly what you are asking about, has access to all your information, and knows exactly what needs to be done to correct the problem, whether it is something they can do themselves, or they know who to escalate it to.
Whether you are calling in to subscribe to a new service, or calling in with a problem with an existing service, the first annoying barrier that you might come across is the Automated Voice Response (AVR). I realise that this is a cost saving measure, but is it not a pleasure to have the phone answered by a live, knowledgeable person, and even better, by the person that you need to speak to?
Some AVRs are quite efficient and quickly get you where you need to be, while others are quite painful to navigate, especially if you need to call back several times.
If they provide a telephone number for technical support, why does one need to press all those keys to choose between Sales, Billing, and other departments before you can get to technical support?
I can understand waiting on hold for a few minutes if all representatives are really assisting other customers, as long as I don't have to go through agony to get there.
The next hurdle could be the script reading, Customer Service Representative with no concept of your needs or the service you are calling about. If your system is down, you have usually tried most of the remedies in the customer service script, before you call in. You really need to be talking to a technician that has real time access to monitoring and troubleshooting tools, especially when calling at premium satcom or roaming cellphone rates.
The best companies provide real time 24x7 technical support directly from the teleport or NOC manned by personnel with real field experience..
When your provider is a small company, you are more likely to be talking to one of the principals of the company, or one of the innovators that engineered the network.
As the companies get larger you are more and more likely to be dealing with the newly hired and newly trained technician -
"Two weeks ago I couldn't even spell satellite engineer and now I are one".
And in the largest companies you run the risk of calling in to the dreaded, script reading, Customer Support Representative who deals with every product the company produces and has little knowledge of the equipment and service you are calling about,
The advantages of larger satellite service providers is that they have deep pockets, and lots of unused bandwidth available on many different satellites, so it is not an exteme hardship for them to bump up your bandwidth to get get you through a problem, or to switch you to one of their many other satellites. It is exteremely costly for smaller companies to provide such options, on the off chance that someone will need them.