How all sea pens are getting access to high-speed internet
Norkring is working to digitise the aquaculture industry in Norway. This requires a network that is always running. We spoke with the people behind it.
The network must always be functioning out on the sea pen. Out there, as with anywhere else, we now expect high speed and 100 per cent availebility. No one is more likely than Norkring to deliver and maintain the network quality required by the aquaculture industry to achieve its goal of digitisation.
Remote control, and remote feeding in particular, requires not only uninterrupted Internet access on the sea pen, but also that the Internet be high speed so that high-resolution video can be transferred in real time.
This is not a challenge for the future, but a challenge that Norkring has already solved. The network specialists at Norkring can deliver up to 600 Mbps to most facilities along the entire coast of Norway. Infrastructure and technology are central to this recipe, but most important of all is a group of people with strong technical skills and a commitment to uninterrupted Internet access.
One of these people is Per Uno Lund.
Call me — actions speak louder than words
– “For me, this job is about leaving behind a piece of work that I can put a label on with my name and number,” says Per Uno Lund, who works as an installer for Norkring.
Image: Norkring installer, Per Uno Lund, performs a final check on the equipment that will sit outside on the feed barge. The installers also work indoors on the feed barges in connection with the installation.
Uno Lund is one of the many people who works each and every day on the national network that allows Norkring to deliver high-speed Internet throughout the country, regardless of whether it will be accessed in deep valleys or inaccessible fjords.
Image: Norkring antenna engineer Kjell Amundsen secures the radio line mirror that sends signals from the sea pen to land. The corresponding radio line equipment is installed on land and receives the signals.
Every time Per leaves a facility, a label with his name and number is left behind. “It has to do with having pride in my work. It does happen that the customers are there tuning the equipment, and it should be easy for them to get the answers they need”, explains Uno Lund.
100 per cent availability
Uno Lund says that much has changed for the connected Norwegian population. “In the 80s, if the TV network went down, you just had to do something else until the TV signal came back. Now we have to be connected at all times. We have grown together with the demands of the market and now we live by delivering 100 per cent availability.
Norkring actually guarantees that the network is always up.
“In terms of competition, it has at times been challenging to deliver the high quality that we have. We deliver a Maserati when the customers are only expecting a Mercedes. Now the requirements for both quality and availability have increased so much that we are glad to have been at the forefront of our customers’ needs”, says Uno Lund.
Despite having one of the world’s most robust and advanced infrastructures for Internet delivery, Uno Lund thinks that the people are the biggest advantage Norkring offers its customers. “At Norkring, everyone has an extremely high level of expertise. We are all specialists, and perhaps overly interested in technology”, laughs Uno Lund.
Infrastructure across the entire country
Significant investments have been made in the infrastructure over many years in order for downtime to be limited as much as possible. Norkring owns 2,000 network stations, and has access to an additional 2,000 stations.
“We have an existing infrastructure all over the country with sites along the entire coastline. This existing network differs from the alternatives in that the network stations positioned high up. When other providers build their own networks, the stations are often built at sea level. This exposes them to water reflections and downtime on the signals”, explains Dag Skarsgård.
Image: Key Account Manager at Norkring, Dag Skarsgård, thinks stable and high-quality internet access will give a competitive advantage to the companies in the industry who are digitising their sea pens.
Unlicensed radio lines that are all the way down by the sea are susceptible to interference from such simple and everyday things as ship traffic. If a ship passes between the pole and the sea pen, then the Internet connection goes out. This problem is avoided when the network station are up high.
Norkring has built radio lines in Norway for over 20 years. No one knows the technical challenges presented by both highly advanced equipment and specifically Norwegian conditions better than the radio line expert. “Our extensive experience means, among other things, that we utilise the frequencies in a smart way and also that we have many options”, explains Skarsgård.
Image: “Planning is half the job,” says Per Uno Lund – and in the image, preparations are made for transportation of both equipment and personnel.
Experience and knowledge
Weather often leads to problems for inexperienced network builders who do not make proper use of the frequencies. There does not need to be a hurricane or storm for service to be interrupted. “A typical example is when the water becomes smooth under high pressure. Then you can get fading of the signals if the installation is not done correctly”, says Skarsgård.
At a service and monitoring centre staffed all 24 hours of the day, the operators can see the status of the entire network at any given time. “The monitoring we do allows us to be proactive. We identify the early signs of service interruption, instead of interruptions that have already happened”, explains Skarsgård.
“A good Internet connection is of course important for remote feeding and additional remote control of the facility, but also from an HSE perspective as it is important to always be able to communicate with the people on the sea pen. The job satisfaction factor is an added bonus. When fighting for the best minds in the industry, it’s important for the employees to have access to broadband on the feed barge”, says Skarsgård.
People are essential
Recently, Uno Lund has installed a lot of new equipment in the area between Andøya and Alta. “Planning is half the job. For this assignment we had to transport, rig and install 470 kg of equipment up on a mountain. The equipment weighs hundreds of kilos – but is as fragile as an egg.
If a technical problem occurs, Norkring is equipped to fix the situation quickly. “Electronics can always fail and do their own thing, but nevertheless, the people we have here at Norkring have the experience and knowledge needed to quickly weed out the errors that sometimes occur.
Norkring collaborates with contractors nationwide that can be dispatched on short notice should something go wrong. The logistics network has also been built up systematically over a long time and can deliver parts very quickly if necessary.
The different departments in the organisation are closely connected. “The people who work with monitoring can identify exactly where the error is so that we save travel time. If the error is on land and the technicians go straight out to the sea pen, we have already lost valuable time. There are short paths between sales, installation, the service network and monitoring”, says Uno Lund.
Talk to us about high-speed Internet access for your facility.