VSAT Mission for Defence: Network Interoperability

Eric-WatkoBy Eric Watko, Vice President, Technology Initiatives

Throughout the past two decades, the telecommunications industry has transitioned from delivering dedicated circuits to now providing end-to-end services. Access networks are converging onto a common architecture, and satellite is following a similar course with full network convergence in its sights. However, when it comes to the defence and security sector, the idea of full network convergence becomes a bit more complicated.

The access landscape for defence looks like such: defence satellite Ka, Ku, X, commercial satellite Ka, Ku, C, and terrestrial access networks. Add to this the variety of infrastructure of secured teleport and commercial teleport, and you begin to see where things get a bit more complicated.

Let’s paint the picture with a common scenario. A national ministry of defence wants to launch a Ka-band defence network. It may wish to operate on a commercially available platform to cover the areas of operation that are not covered by its own satellite network. Roaming onto the other satellite networks might be an ideal choice.

However, this requires a level of management and control across satellite networks of various operators. This level of interoperability doesn’t quite exist today.

Of course, interoperability challenges are coupled with other challenges, including the high cost of capacity, no common management plane and interface, and ease of use and performance.

At iDirect, we believe the strategy requires addressing the issue of convergence across multiple fronts. Read More

VSAT Comes in First During a 10K

iDirect and partner Elara Comunicaciones have altered the meaning of ‘education and health’ for many citizens in rural Mexico. The companies, which teamed up for Mexico’s 10K project in late-2012/early-2013, now provide satellite connectivity to over 3,000 sites in the country. Students can now attend classes and training programs remotely via the Internet.

Through Internet access, services such as VoIP and video, encourage interactivity, thus providing a supportive and hands-on learning environment. With the help of iDirect and Elara Comunicaciones, many citizens of Mexico now have access to a wealth of information, including broader education and health attention, and broader education is repeated with  a simple click of a button.  To learn more please read or download our latest case study, “VSAT Runs a 10K” below:

VSAT in APAC: An Opportune Landscape for Growth

Two recent events shine the spotlight on VSAT’s continued growth in Asia-Pacific. The region is experiencing an upswing of opportunity, given the launches of multiple satellites, greater demand for high throughput satellites (HTS), and growing opportunities across a number of different markets.

The month of September wrapped up with the annual APSCC Conference & Exhibition, where the theme was appropriately centered on “The New Landscape for Satellite.” APSCC President Yutaka Nagai perhaps said it best when he welcomed attendees with a message that the satellite industry is positioned for an exciting phase of prosperity in Asia Pacific.

APSCC-blog

For iDirect, the message of HTS in particular was front-and-center at the event, with Tom Cheong, VP & GM, iDirect Asia, participating on an engaging panel discussion titled “HTS and Broadband Satellite Services.”

“Given the coming HTS capacity that will present higher throughput, better mobility support and more persuasive economics for large networks, the Asia Pacific region can expect unprecedented new opportunities for both consumers and enterprise customers,” said Cheong. “Factors like rapid urbanization in major Asian cities, upsurge in air, land and sea travel as well as increasing demand for high-speed mobile connectivity, all speak to this being the right time for HTS to elevate Asia Pacific to the next level.”

This demand is already apparent in the form of communications on the move (COTM) from the defense and homeland security sectors. Multiple coast guard/naval forces, land-based army divisions as well as disaster management agencies in the region have incorporated iDirect technology into their mobile assets.

Likewise, cruise liners and commercial airlines remain the next big wave of mobility for Asia Pacific. iDirect’s strong foundation in the maritime space should propel this market segment forward. Coupled with the government mobility objectives, the outlook for mobility in APAC looks to be well rounded. Read More

Asia-Pacific Disaster Preparedness Strengthened Through Delivery of GVF Satcom Certification to 21 Militaries

From Space Newsfeed

The effectiveness of Asia-Pacific disaster preparedness and response has been enabled through the recent certification of participants from more than 20 militaries on the use of satellite communications systems to ensure that in a crisis or disaster there are trained individuals available throughout the region who can assist with relief efforts.

The one-week training program was held as part of the “Satcom Endeavor” information-sharing module of “Pacific Endeavor”, a joint program of militaries from throughout the region sponsored by the US Pacific Command. The training was provided by GVF, the international association of the satellite communications industry, with support from leading providers of bandwidth, earth stations, integration, and online, inter-active training.

“GVF’s Member companies and partners were instrumental to the success of the satcom training and certification program,” said David Hartshorn, Secretary General of GVF. “SES and SatProf provided Scholarships and expert support for the training, while systems, services and subject-matter specialists were made available by AQYR, GATR Technologies, Integrasys, Mahdi Bagh Computers, Mercantile, and SpeedCast.”

“Thanks to their support, we were able to achieve our goal of ensuring that all participants obtained valuable knowledge and lessons learned from actual field experience, and were able to pass the rigorous training,” said Steve Birnbaum, Chairman of the GVF’s Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Response Programs. “They are now able to return to their countries, and stand ready to use their new skills, relationships and ideas for improved collaboration to help save lives during any disasters that may strike the Asia-Pacific region in the future.” Continue>

Intelsat General Increasing Focus on Stopping Interference, Musing Ka-band Options

From Satellite Today

As Intelsat prepares for EpicNG, its next generation High Throughput Satellites (HTS), a key focus will be on gaining strength in the military market. This sector has presented a challenge to Intelsat recently, as sequestration and contract consolidation led to reduced government spending. With the first EpicNG satellite, IS-29e, slated to launch next year, the company anticipates these highly capable satellites will result in newfound growth.

To make sure EpicNG is all it can be for the military sector, Intelsat General, the government-focused wholly owned subsidiary of Intelsat, has undertaken several initiatives it believes will prove advantageous. For example, the satellites will support spot beams and an open architecture system to provide higher throughput to existing modems and antennas. But one of the biggest improvements will be a beefed up resistance to jamming and intentional interference.

“In the past we have had limited capabilities to deal with interference on the spacecraft, and now we have capabilities to deal with it,” Mark Daniels, VP of engineering at Intelsat General, told Via Satellite. “We have a whole protected communications roadmap that we are working on where we can bring more options to the table for military planners.” Continue>

Promising Productivity For Inmarsat Presented During MILCOM 2014

From Satnews

Inmarsat, in partnership with its Value Added Resellers, has begun providing wideband communications capability to U.S. government customers through its Global Xpress service carried over the first Inmarsat-5 satellite.

Using 72 fixed beams in commercial Ka-band, along with military Ka-band capacity available on its high-capacity steerable beams, Global Xpress is now supporting aeronautical and land terminal operations in the Indian Ocean Region with high-throughput connectivity. The steerable beams are designed to complement military Ka-band capacity provided by the Wideband Global SATCOM system (WGS) in areas of high demand, while the fixed beams enable consistent and reliable service across nearly all of the visible earth.

Peter Hadinger, president of Inmarsat’s U.S. Government Business Unit, said, ”Our goal throughout the design process was to address many of the U.S. government’s most critical communications needs, and now, Inmarsat is delivering on that objective.”

Global Xpress exceeded expectations during extensive user evaluations and tests. Users indicated that terminals were highly reliable under all operational conditions, providing seamless wideband SATCOM connectivity crucial to their mission requirements. The Inmarsat-5 military Ka-band steerable beam technology efficiently supports very high data rates and very small apertures enabling the satisfaction of previously unmet key mission requirements. Additionally, the iDirect evolution-based Global Service Beam (GSB) performance met or exceeded data throughput available on older Ku-band services using satellite terminals of equal or smaller size. Continue>

MTN’s TBN-Connected Ships Increase Covered Regions

From SatNews

After launching its Terrestrial Broadband Network (TBN) a little more than one year ago, MTN Communications (MTN) has announced that the number of TBN-connected cruise ships has doubled and covered regions have tripled.

Since the MTN TBN kick-off in Alaska in the Summer 2013 cruise season, several MTN partners, including Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, are leveraging this new technology to enrich their passenger and crew communications experience. Thanks in part to this new technology, the MTN hybrid network now delivers approximately 10 Terabytes of data daily. The company enabled more than 33 million Internet logons last year. The MTN TBN optimizes the onboard bandwidth available to passengers and crew, especially when their ships enter port. TBN connectivity enables up to six times more bandwidth for communications and content sharing on the ship. Passengers and crew can now bring their daily online requirements to sea – including access to social media, infotainment, content and more.

Passengers and crew today expect faster, land-like connectivity at sea. The challenge for operators has been staying ahead of demand while dealing with the cost of adding what has traditionally been only satellite bandwidth. MTN is a proven provider that enables disparate systems from multiple providers to seamlessly work together for “smart hand-off and switch over,” with a focus on user experience, cost and revenue growth. MTN launched its TBN as one key component of its advanced hybrid communications ecosystem. It is transforming communications at sea by enabling ships to connect through a first-ever hybrid network that seamlessly switches from satellite to the TBN, delivering higher network performance and speeds. This ecosystem is powered through smart computing and caching for super-efficient use of bandwidth onboard. And the company’s new Connect@Sea Internet platform delivers a higher level of service, along with new per-megabyte billing versus per-minute. The MTN TBN also optimizes corporate IT data so it flows through vessel networks more efficiently, freeing up space for additional applications. Read More

Coming Down From Space, Part 2 of 2

BDenis Sutherlandy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

Satellite operators’ business models are going to change due to the multi spot beam architecture of HTS. Satellite operators will need to focus not just on space but also on ground infrastructure. This new focus will enable their service provider (SP) customers to cost effectively access HTS via a managed service model. We predict that satellite operators will change their business models to sell Mbps rather than MHz. In my last blog I considered why, but in this one I would like to discuss what impact this may have.

How Do You Sell Mbps?

RSCC recently told SatTV Week that they are an “operator of infrastructure” during an interview at CommunicAsia 2014.

This demonstrates to me that satellite operators understand that they need to sell more than just a satellite’s capability in order to ultimately sell Mbps. Satellite operators must sell what’s on the ground, too; the quality, security and reliability of the ground infrastructure are significant. The ground elements are a critical part of the overall network architecture. Therefore, satellite operators will be responsible for the entire network if they are selling Mbps via a managed service model.

Could The VNO Model Be A Stepping Stone?

Satellite operators can control how their capacity comes to market by choosing one of four business models:

  • Vertically Integrated Model – (Mbps)
  • Managed Services Model – (Mbps)
  • Virtual Network Operator Model – (MHz)
  • Hub Co-location Model – (MHz)

Although all four business models are in use today, I made the case in my last blog that satellite operators that are selling MHz will gradually transition to a managed service model based on selling Mbps. However, the VNO model could serve as transition point for some. Read More

Preparing for a Network 2020 Environment: The Industry Responds

Cisco_Watko_Hi_RezOver the past two weeks Eric Watko, iDirect’s vice president, telecoms and space systems, has helped set the framework for satellite’s ultimate role in the broader converged end-to-end network. And the industry is responding in a positive manner.

Presenting at VSAT 2014 on the topic ‘Preparing for a Network 2020 Environment’, along with a follow-up webinar hosted by Via Satellite last week, Watko outlined the opportunity for satellite playing a broader role in the converged end-to-end network. As communication demands continue to evolve and the need for every access technology to work together within the network becomes more apparent, satellite provides the global reach, resiliency and specialized services necessary for achieving this global IP connectivity.

Watko addressed the technical details associated with gaps that exist with regards to helping satellite become part of this core network, including the need for this industry to embrace modern IP networking standards, among others.

Following the webinar Watko fielded a series of questions related to the topic. Attendees were interested in a wide range of topics, including what this will ultimately mean for the future of the value chain, new markets and enabling technologies. Here is a sample of this dialogue with the market, post webinar:

The role of the satellite service provider: When asked how the role of the satellite service provider will change in this new environment of the converged end-to-end network, Watko outlined a landscape where they become more aggressive with the ability to discover new opportunities. Whereas in the past the terrestrial service provider would be in position to leverage more opportunities, he sees the satellite service provider being able to move up the value chain, expand their influence and offer additional services. Read More

Honeywell and Thales Partner on GX-based In-Flight Connectivity

From Satellite Today

Honeywell Aerospace announced a collaborative initiative with Thales to create a joint In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) service using Ka-band Global Xpress (GX) capacity. The companies plan to integrate Honeywell JetWave hardware into Thales cabin network solutions, starting with the Airbus A350XWB and expanding to other aircraft.

Honeywell intends to provide up to 50 Mbps broadband speeds through Thales cabin network solutions starting in 2015. Thales will also offer the option of including Honeywell’s JetWave hardware in new and existing Airbus aircraft. Honeywell has the right to manufacture onboard hardware that connects to the GX Aviation network through an exclusive 2012 agreement with Inmarsat.