• Tweet this Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Email

Explore how other customers are generating value with SAP technology.

More customer stories ›

Customer Snapshot

Improving Hi-Tech Mobile Installations for Rural America


300  channels

and free installation in
up to 6 rooms


More than 600 field technicians help make Satellites Unlimited Inc. one of the largest Dish Network retailers in the United States. The technicians rely heavily on mobile devices when installing and servicing satellite dishes, but ineffective device management was slowing their performance. That’s why Satellites Unlimited rapidly deployed SAP Afaria for mobile device and application management.


Satellites Unlimited Inc.


Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Customer Website



US$100 million

Number of Employees


Implementation Partners

Element Five Solutions

Line of Business

Service, Information Technology



Featured Products

Afaria rapid-deployment solution


Nearly 20 years of network innovation

Satellites Unlimited maintains their headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. The company provides the highest level of customer service to Dish Network customers from its 14 regional offices in Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, and Tennessee.


  • 1994Satellites Unlimited (SU) was established as a family owned and operated business.
  • 1999The company was acquired by the McKinney Capital family of companies.
  • 1999SU joined Dish Network as a Regional Service Provider.
  • 2012SU offered the most extensive lineup of Dish Network technology in the industry.
  • 2013SU business expanded significantly, which required the hiring of 150 additional Alabama-based technicians.

Business Model

Getting the signal to Small Town, USA

Satellite telecommunications is the only source for cable television programming or high-speed Internet service for many residents in the rural United States. The few satellite providers who do serve rural populations win or lose business based on their reputation for quality and service. Word-of-mouth recommendations are critical to obtaining and retaining customers in tight-knit communities. Satellites Unlimited invests in technologies that assure the delivery of a superior product, and customer satisfaction.

Success Strategy

Service and quality are key

Satellites Unlimited equips their technicians with the Samsung Galaxy tablet, which empowers field representatives to give customers the fastest and highest quality service. The Galaxy tablet can be loaded with the software necessary for the installation, provisioning, activation, and troubleshooting of satellite services. Field technicians are thus able to address customer needs in a single visit.


Mobile equipment, supported by the
SAP solution, streamlines service and ensures customer satisfaction.

The Challenge

Powerful devices require a powerful system

Satellites Unlimited began using Samsung Galaxy tablet computers a few years ago. SU field techs worked more efficiently because of their increased mobility and independence. However, the geographic dispersion of 600 service technicians throughout seven southeastern states made the ongoing management of the tablets difficult. The tablets connect to numerous back-end systems. When those systems receive updates, it typically requires updates on the tablets as well. Otherwise technicians could be forced to rely on less efficient means to conduct their business. This would inevitably reflect negatively on customer service.


“We’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy tablets
for a long time, but we needed to make them
more productive
for our field technicians.”

- Dylan Stafford, Network Administrator, Satellites Unlimited Inc.


Enter SAP

Making systems and devices work together

Satellites Unlimited discovered that Dish Network uses SAP Afaria to manage their field devices and their connection to data systems. The company decided to take a look for themselves. SU management was immediately impressed. They learned that when a requirement in back-end software was not supported by a device, the robust application programming interfaces (APIs) in SAP Afaria could create the necessary functions. Satellites Unlimited immediately contacted SAP partner, Element Five Solutions.


“Most solutions had bits and pieces but not everything we needed. SAP had it all.

- Dylan Stafford, Network Administrator, Satellites Unlimited Inc.


The SAP Experience

A demonstration worth a thousand words

Element Five Solutions demonstrated SAP Afaria to SU, and convinced the company that the system could exceed their business expectations. Satellites Unlimited could cost effectively and rapidly implement a mobile infrastructure within weeks, thanks to SAP’s new rapid-deployment methodology for SAP Afaria.

Better Business

Great results in the field

Satellites Unlimited rapidly deployed SAP Afaria in one branch office, and observed immediate results as 50 field service technicians employed these powerful new tools. SAP Afaria worked seamlessly with SAP’s ERP application to effectively track the status of orders, and retrieve other critical business data.


Efficiency breeds customer satisfaction

Field service technicians at Satellites Unlimited are on their way to being more productive. They now can reliably use a single device for all tasks related to satellite service installation. Whereas before, when they might have to use a telephone or written forms to gather and share information, with SAP Afaria, everything can be entered into or retrieved directly from their Samsung Galaxy tablets. When an application gets updated, SU branch offices throughout the company’s service area will use SAP Afaria to automatically push updates to the tablets, using location-based technology.


“With SAP Afaria, our technicians can access information easier and faster, which makes the core aspect of our business more productive.”

- Dylan Stafford, Network Administrator, Satellites Unlimited Inc.


Lessons Learned

Tool that changes with business needs

Customer satisfaction has always been at the core of Satellites Unlimited business model. Field technicians are the face of SU for customers. They now have the tools to make the installation process faster and more efficient, and customers are expressing great satisfaction. Remote management capabilities relieve the burden of manual intervention from the field techs, and gives Satellites Unlimited a competitive edge. The tool adapts to the job, rather than the tech having to adapt to the tool.

Run Simple

Solid platform for a solid gold future

The SAP Afaria platform has been enabled, and Satellites Unlimited is currently in the process of activating the remote management capabilities on the tablets for all 600 technicians in seven states. The rollout is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

Journey Ahead

Onward to automation and simplified dispatching

SAP Afaria has many robust APIs, and Satellites Unlimited expects to extend their current capabilities. The company has discussed setting up APIs to gather location data so field service managers at branch offices can automate and simplify dispatching. Using the tablets’ built-in geolocation capabilities, Satellites Unlimited can develop custom APIs that will connect technicians to the nearest job, which can improve customer satisfaction and reduce travel expenses.

Related Links