By Josh Cohen, Director, Sales Business Development
iDirect’s Director, Sales Business Development, Joshua Cohen, who has been with iDirect for over 13 years, recently sat down with Jack Waters, the President and CEO of partner XipLink to discuss the company’s latest venture with iDirect, the XipLink-X7 Xtreme Bundle Solution.
This is the first in a series of the conversation.
Josh: Thank you for joining us here today Jack. To start with, can you share some brief background history on XipLink – when you were founded and how many on the team?
Jack: In July 2007, XipLink was spun-off from the aerospace company Xiphos Technologies and new capital was invested into the company.
Xiphos focused largely on custom-designed engineering projects at the time, so I guess you could say it was a “project” company rather than a “product” company. One project their team worked on for a customer was the development of SCPS, commonly called “skips” or Space Communications Protocol Specification, acceleration solution. This turned into a separate project, and eventually into its own TCP Acceleration product. At that point, Xiphos decided to spin XipLink off as a separate company, and that’s when I came on board as CEO. We initially started off selling iDirect acceleration software for the SkyCelerator product line, and then over the following few years we have evolved into selling appliances as well. XipLink has about 30 people on our team, split between our head office in Montreal and Africa field personnel worldwide.
Josh: At a high level, could you tell us what XipLink provides and what is your value proposition to the satellite industry and iDirect’s customers in particular? Read More
By Dave Bettinger, CTO
The goal for operators of spot-beam High Throughput Satellite (HTS) is clear: to improve the economics of satellite communications by increasing the supply and efficiency of capacity. However, the very nature of spot-beam architectures introduces a challenge to achieving this goal.
Achieving a high utilization rate
Here’s the issue: Launching a satellite is a 20-year bet on where customer demand will be located and how big that demand will be. With a traditional wide-beam satellite, the geographic target could be set fairly large. There was broad flexibility to allocate bandwidth to where it was needed on the ground as demand changed over time. And satellite operators could commonly maintain a capacity utilization rate of 90%.
Capacity allocation is much less flexible with a spot-beam satellite. Operators need to determine beam how much bandwidth and power is required for each and where each beam should be pointed. Once an operator has designed the beam pattern, it cannot easily be adjusted. As a result, operators lose much of the flexibility to sell out capacity in the ways they are used to with wide-beam satellites. And the risk is much greater that an operator could underestimate or overestimate demand on the ground.
Any cost equation is a factor of both supply and demand. While spot-beam satellites will add abundant new capacity to the sky, selling out that capacity is the key to better economics. The cost of HTS capacity will likely not come down until it matches utilization rates of fixed satellites. If capacity is locked up in the wrong beams, an operator would only be able to monetize a lower portion. And that would keep costs high. Read More
by Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe
At the recent Mobile Deployable Communications Conference in Amsterdam, the main themes were no surprise. The requirements of the defence and security community continue to be very much focused on contingency operations. As a result, adaptability, agility and scalability are the key requirements. In addition, ever tightening budgets across the board continue to bite, but there is still an extant requirement for bandwidth and interoperability.
However, one other constant theme that struck a chord with me was the necessity to drive down the Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements of mobile terminals, particularly those carried on the backs of soldiers. These three key elements of terminal design are often the critical deciding factors in the choice of terminal.
It was pointed out at the conference that the weight carried by soldiers on patrols hasn’t changed that much in the last 40 years, but what has changed significantly is the amount of specialist modern electronic equipment, such as PDAs, cameras, personal radios, blue force tracking kit and tactical and strategic satellite communications (Satcom). Satcom kit was once the preserve of headquarters elements; for use as strategic out of theatre backhauls. Now, these terminals are often extended to the section level for the patrols on the ground and for insertion into patrol bases, operating well away from regular logistic and operational support.
So what used to be carried instead of modern electronics? For every kilogram of electronic kit carried, the modern soldier is sacrificing carrying the key thing that dictates the length of time they can operate: ammunition (and to a certain extent, water). By reducing the SWaP characteristics of equipment, manufacturers are often simply increasing the amount of ammo that can be carried. In a firefight those extra rounds of ammunition can prove vital. Read More