World Rally Car Championship

Orbit Research provides satellite communication systems and managed internet connectivity to teams and organisers at the World Rally Championship (WRC).

The WRC is an international event with a huge following of fans from all over the world. The car manufacturers know that the fans will want to buy their winning cars so a huge effort is made to get things right! It’s big business. On the other hand, a large number of privateer teams compete raising their own sponsorship.

Being part of a winning team, means having reliable, effortless and secure communications, but in these difficult financial times every penny must be accounted for and the communication solution must provide excellent value for money.

Reliable internet connectivity allows the touring engineers and service team to keep in close contact with the engineers and designers back at their home HQ . In an event such as a rally every second makes a difference, so the ability to upload critical engine data, analyse it and update the engine management system between stages could be the difference between winning and losing.

But a rally is nothing without the fans and an audience, and keeping fans informed with up-to-date information is also a critical part of communications mix.

Orbit Research has been working closely with the WRC teams and organisers for three years delivering satellite communication solutions meeting all of these needs.

In many respects the WRC is one of the toughest challenges for a rapid deployment communication system. Typically, in operation the system can be handling up to a thousand simultaneous internet connections distributed across a service park which is several hundred metres long, often split between two or more locations and between different teams (who insist that their data is totally secure and secret from the other teams). At the same time it must carry the rally radio uplink and many voice-over-IP (VoIP) connections;  all without loss of data integrity. Increasingly, the teams are looking to create live video clips  interviews with drivers at the end of a stage, views of the service routine etc . all for immediate upload to their web sites. At the end of each stage the critical engine data needs to be uplinked as quickly as possible… several tens of megabytes in a few minutes, and of course the critical email and social networking needs of the many on-site staff also have to be met!

This is a very tough challenge, but the Orbit Research satellite internet deployment achieves it in its stride:

The first part of our deployment begins with our robust and secure earth station at Rugby, UK, complimented, when required, by our partner earth station in Turin, Italy. From these two locations we can provide satellite links to most of the World. Backhaul, redundant (duplicated for safety), gigabit fibre connects the earth station to the Internet at London Telehouse. The earth station is equipped with the very latest iDirect DVB-S2 technology providing flexible quality of service options that can be programmed on the fly. We always maintain excess satellite capacity to allow for the greatest peaks in bandwidth demand to be handled with ease.

In any satellite communication system, the link budget is the critical calculation. See our tutorial on link budgets. We have designed a system that delivers the maximum data capacity both in the forward and return links. Unlike many competing systems, we are able to deliver huge data capabilities on our return links,  ideal for the WRC where data upload (for Rally Radio, engine data, video clips, VoIP) is such an important part of the equation.

On the ground at the rally park, we deploy between one and three antennas depending on the geography and layout of the service area. These are complimented by local Paketeer Quality of Service (QoS) packet management system, web cache, and WiFi hot-spot controllers. Data is distributed using CAT-5 cable and WiFi  utilising state-of-the-art antenna beam-forming transceiver which is capable of delivering WiFi data over 1km. Difficult areas are augmented with WiFi mesh devices, which together provide a blanket coverage of the entire area.

The entire system can be set up in a few hours, providing vital communication instantly and reliably.

What for the future?

The WRC is broadcast on numerous conventional TV channels. However, the team organisers are now beginning to realise the huge potential for direct marketing to their fan base via IP-TV. Orbit Research has already proved the validity of this approach by providing the satellite communications link to transmit the LIVE Rally Ireland Donegal stage directly to the WRC web site home page.

The event was watched, live, by xxx,xxx people. Web statistics are much more accurate than TV viewing statistics – but more importantly, visitors to a web site have self-selected that web site and therefore are already keenly interested in the subject matter. They are in an interactive position and open to marketing opportunities presented to them. With such a high value product to sell (cars and accessories) the value of satellite-delivered IP-TV streams can clearly be demonstrated.

How can we help?

Orbit Research has a vast experience in engineering satellite communication based IP solutions for events that create huge opportunities for organisers and participants to engage with their audience and increase their turn over. We are unique in the market, no other company has the range of skills and experience to help you deliver a winning strategy for communication.

Call us on 0800 043 7768 to see how we can help you.