The Year in HTS: Market Debates and Program Debuts

By Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System EngineeringDenis Sutherland

As we begin looking ahead to 2015, I cannot help but first look back at the major progress that has been made on the High Throughput Satellite (HTS) front during 2014. These past 12 months have been particularly enlightening for me, as I’ve had the opportunity to engage in some thorough and thought-provoking dialogue with the industry about both the challenges and opportunities associated with HTS.

First things first: HTS satellites have launched. This year we moved closer to the reality of several HTS programs focused on the enterprise market. The launch of Inmarsat’s first Global Xpress satellite was a great step forward . As we look forward to 2015, the anticipation is that satellite launches will quicken, led by major programs like Intelsat EPIC.

Certainly the launch of these HTS programs presents a major milestone. They signal a new era for the industry. However, we must continue to focus on preparing enterprise markets for the impact that comes with HTS; most notably how we design networks, offer services and manage operations.

These very subjects were the topic of much discussion on the blog this past year. I posed some thoughts, encouraged the industry to respond—and heard back with some great insight. And before we look ahead to what 2015 will hold for HTS, let’s quickly recap what we’ve discovered over this past year. Read More

MSC begins iDirect upgrade

From Digitial Ship

MSC Cruises has become the first cruise line in the world to begin to roll out the latest iDX 3.2 software and X7 modem from iDirect, with the aim of optimising its VSAT communications with higher throughput and improved functionality.
Following successful tests of the new iDirect X7 modem in August 2014, MSC’s VSAT provider Marlink began the rollout of the new technology across the 12 ships in the MSC Cruises fleet in October 2014.

“Staying connected is increasingly important to our guests, so MSC Cruises wanted to enhance the onboard Wi-Fi experience by ensuring that more guests can get online at the same time,” said Emilio La Scala, general manager, MSC Cruises Technical Department.

“The iDirect X7 and Marlink C-band VSAT solution secures the bandwidth and performance to provide stable services for both guests and crew.”

The Marlink Global C-band iDirect service has been operational since spring 2014 on the new generation iDirect software, iDX 3.2, which the company says is a pre-requisite for the introduction of the new X7 modem.

All MSC Cruises services using C-band, such as company headquarters and public telephony, GSM voice and data, and ship management LAN communications, will now be routed over the X7 modem, which Marlink says allows for Adaptive TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) to enhance return channel performance and increase network availability on vessels suffering rain fade and satellite link degradation.

“Since we started with the first VSAT for MSC Cruises in 2003, MSC has always been an early adopter, committed to continuously improving the communications user experience for crew and passengers,” said Antoine Lisse, key account manager, Marlink.

“Together we have introduced the latest technology and capabilities, and with iDirect X7 on the C-band service, they will have one of the most advanced VSAT solutions in the market today.” Continue >

iDX 3.2.3.5 Patch Release and New Tech Bulletins Available

The iDX 3.2.3.5 remote-only patch release is now available.

This patch resolves issues reported from the field. The issues concern:

  • Resolving the ability to SSH between iDirect remotes and other network devices
  • Resolving issues related to remotes being commanded offline in 3.2.x.x releases
  • Resolving the issue related to 27 MHz being enabled by default on X7 remotes

Details are now available in the 3.2.3.x release notes located on our Partner Technical Assistance Center (TAC).

Three new technical bulletins available

iDirect TAC has three tech bulletins now available:

  • CPU usage increase when performing SSH
  • Process crash when processing specific  type of IGMP packets
  • X7 remotes have 27 MHz signal enabled by default in some 3.2.x. releases

Further details are included in the bulletins located on our Partner Technical Assistance Center (TAC).

If you have any questions, please contact the TAC at +1-703-648-8151 or contact tac@idirect.net.

iDirect at Africacom: Cell Backhaul on the Horizon

By Toni Lee Rudnicki, Chief Marketing Officer, iDirect

As mobile operators continue transforming their network architecture to take advantage ofTL small cells and carrier Wi-Fi, high throughput satellite (HTS) capacity remains well positioned to create new opportunities for providing backhaul in remote and rural locations. This is a trend that is certainly playing out across Africa; a reason why it was no surprise that cell backhaul was the focal point of most discussions at Africacom.

Overall, this year’s Africacom event was bustling with positivity despite many attendees characterizing 2014 as being a bit of a tough year. The optimism that attendees expressed was the fact that they saw many opportunities on the horizon. For example, the enterprise market remains on a steady uptick. Banking and education were two such markets garnering significant attention. But again, every conversation ultimately centered on the topic of cell backhaul.

iDirect hosted a series of small cell demos at the event, all of which turned out very positive results. It was fun to watch as the attendees took the cell phones and walked across the tradeshow floor to experience the demo. Most were pleasantly surprised. In general, HTS and small cells were seen as an opportunity. It is another area in which satellite communications is able to flex its unique muscle in the network.

For iDirect, this further reinforces our acquisition earlier this year of the some of the software assets of Altobridge. Attendees definitely noticed and on more than one occasion I received positive feedback on the move. As we build the Altobridge technology into our satellite platform we will be able to offer cellular customers a cost-efficient and fully integrated solution focused on the needs of backhaul. Read More

IsoTropic Networks Renews its iDirect Support Commitment for 3 years of Premium Support

IsoTropic Networks will extend iDirect iSupport Premium Package to enhance and maximize commitment, support, and availability to clients

IsoTropic Networks announced its extension of iDirect’s iSupport Premium Package for three years.

IsoTropic will take advantage of the Premium iSupport options in an ongoing effort to strengthen the organization through a manageable TCO benchmark, maintain continuity through iDirect’s “spare in the air” program, along with comprehensive training and a dedicated iDirect Technical Account Manager. This will greatly enhance IsoTropic’s efficiency and effectiveness in providing iDirect VNOs, Hub Hosting, and iDirect Hub sales.

“Our growth in both end user VSAT sites and hosted iDirect platforms has caused us to hire additional support staff. These new hires go through a rigorous internal training program, which includes the iDirect suite of courses,” said Hank Zbierski, Chief Catalyst at IsoTropic.

The extension of IsoTropic Networks iSupport Premium package came in response to IsoTropic’s continuing growth in the maritime and  oil and gas, market sectors, advancements and innovations in their solution platforms, and their long term commitment to the iDirect technology offering.

“We are proud IsoTropic Networks has selected the iDirect platform and is continuing to see demand and growth from its established customer base.  This is a reflection of the strong customer support by the company; an aspect in which iDirect is proud to play a critical role.” Rob Kilroy, regional vice president, sales Americas at iDirect.

Essential Network Management

We recently sat down with Chris Burdick, iDirect’s Vice President, Product Management, NMS, to better understand the importance of the Network Management System (NMS) as the critical “glue” that binds all parts of a satellite communications platform together.

iDirect:  What is a Network Management System (NMS)?

Chris:  A Network Management System controls and manages the components of a communications network. We call all the separate components of hardware in a network, such as satellite routers, “network elements.” An NMS controls all these interconnected elements, similar to the way an operating system controls the services on a computer.

iDirect:  What are the key functions the NMS provides?

Chris:  At its core, an NMS provides configuration, control, monitoring, and reporting capabilities. Configuration allows users to define the operating parameters of all network elements, and ensures that the configuration is consistent across all the parts of the network so network communication is properly maintained. Control refers to the process of making specific configurations operational on the network elements, and also ensures the correct version of software/firmware is applied to those elements.

Monitoring allows users to examine the performance of elements, detects any anomalous conditions that may raise alarms, and offers real-time debugging tools to investigate those alarms and resolve them. The NMS also provides longer-term reporting capabilities, allowing for trend analysis, usage based accounting, and other types of historical reporting on how network elements have behaved over time. Read More

TSBc to Reinforce Maritime & Offshore Market with Thor 7

From Via Satellite

Telenor Satellite Broadcasting (TSBc), a major satellite operator in Europe, has seen a steady increase in revenue coming from the maritime market. The company has been providing maritime and offshore VSAT services to Northern Europe for a considerable amount of time from its 1 degree west orbital location. But changing consumer patterns requiring access to broadband at sea is leading to more satellite system installations, according to TSBc CEO and VP Morten Tengs. The growing desire to have connectivity speeds at sea similar to those on land has become a powerful trend, so much so that TSBc now expects this vertical to have a defining impact on its upcoming satellite Thor 7.

“Once Thor 7 is launched, TSBc’s network and data services will undertake a business shift, focusing further on increasing our market share in the maritime and offshore sector. The Thor 7 [High Throughput Satellite] HTS Ka band has been specifically designed for the mobility VSAT market and adds vital growth capacity for our long standing maritime and oil and gas customers who are currently using our Ku-band payloads,” Tengs told Via Satellite.

From 1 degree west, TSBc provides high-powered Ku-band capacity in key regions from Greenland to the Persian Gulf. The company’s top markets are Europe, the Middle East and Africa. To keep up with maritime growth, TSBc has been using third party capacity from Telesat to deliver iDirect services to top maritime and shipping routes across the globe. This capacity helps TSBc extend its service offering beyond its core European market to the Caribbean and larger swaths of the Atlantic. Read More

OilComm 2014: The Answer to the Increasing Demand for Capacity

By Gloria Kinney, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, iDirect

Unprecedented bandwidth demand within the Oil & Gas industry is driven by the use of video monitoring and real-time data exchange for improved operations, security, and training. While the emergence of high throughput satellite (HTS) will play a prominent role in providing much of that additional capacity, there is a key role for other communications technologies – Wi-Fi, WiMAX, 4G, and fiber – within the larger ecosystem. This hybrid network infrastructure approach was the key theme throughout the OilComm 2014 conference that took place in Houston, TX, Nov. 5-7.

OilComm2014-1

OilComm 2014

Satellite connectivity still remains the primary source for offshore, mobility, and back-up applications particularly in remote locations. The advent of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) will drastically improve data throughput and capacity at more affordable prices. In addition to HTS, various Oilcomm sessions explored how other terrestrial and wireless communications technologies can complement the existing satellite infrastructure.

The new pre-conference Tech Workshops were designed to facilitate discussions with existing industry challenges such as key considerations for effective mobile application development for the oilfield. Also new this year was the Exhibitor Showcase Theater where companies had 30 minutes to promote the latest in cutting edge technology including subsea optical communication systems, virtual private radio networks, and dynamic wireless microwave networking solutions. Read More

Inmarsat Completes Global Xpress Ground Network

From Via Satellite

Inmarsat has completed construction of the final four Satellite Access Stations (SAS) for its Global Xpress (GX) fleet. This represents a significant milestone in the rollout of GX, Inmarsat’s global high-speed broadband Ka-band network, which is scheduled for global commercial service introduction early in the second half of 2015.

The new GX stations are located in Lino Lakes, Minn.; Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada; with two sites near Auckland, New Zealand. Two further stations — in Fucino, Italy and Nemea, Greece — are already operational. All six GX SAS will act as gateways between the broadband traffic routed via the three Inmarsat 5 (I-5) satellites and terrestrial fixed networks. Each SAS delivers full ground segment redundancy for GX services, providing high quality resiliency, reliability and availability, for example at times of adverse weather, and offering a powerful differentiator to traditional regional Ku-band networks.

GX will deliver high-throughput broadband connectivity on land, at sea and in the air; provided by a single operator with seamless access anywhere in the world. It will also offer a worldwide commercial satellite network that is interoperable with government military satellite communications (milsatcom) Ka-band systems. Continue>

The ARC to Success

Dave DavisDave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe 

The recent Global MilSatcom conference was a roaring success.

For the uninitiated, Global MilSatcom is THE annual catch up on all things military and Satcom. As always, there are generic themes that weave their way through the conference and this year was no exception, with notable mentions going to Comms-on-the-Move (COTM), Aero platforms, the additional requirements for training and welfare, SWaP, and of course UAS.

However, there are constant themes that reappear on an annual basis and this is summed up using the acronym ARC, or Affordability, Resilience and Capability. Some even suggested we should start a drinking game and every time a speaker mentions one of these three, we all sip from a glass of our chosen tipple. If we did do this, I doubt many people would make it to day two of the conference.

Affordability-Resilience-Capability

Affordability is absolutely key in today’s constrained budgets. I, for one, was surprised to see the figures on the declining percentage of GDP spent on military communications. Don’t get me wrong, a smaller percentage of an increasing amount is still very, very significant, but it’s an indicator of the economic times and even the mighty BRICS still have to be frugal and get the most bang for their buck. Read More