Author Archives: Denis Sutherland

Aero Service Levels are Measured in More than Megabytes

Denis SutherlandIn-flight connectivity is becoming a standard expectation of modern air travel. From passengers watching live television and pilots checking weather patterns to crewmembers swiping credit cards and monitoring fuel levels, VSAT networks are driving loyalty, revenue and productivity.

Recently I presented at the GVF AERO Connect 2016 conference it was not a surprise that everyone wants more. And that more is going to come from HTS capacity translated into networks that can run at hundreds of Mbps. NSR reports that 18,000 aircraft will be powered by capacity from High Throughput Satellites by 2025, accounting for $2.8 billion in revenue.

But here’s the catch. High-quality airline connectivity cannot be boiled down simply to the speed of a satellite router. At iDirect, we believe that the ultimate guarantee of service performance depends a complete solution that will meet the demanding expectations of in-flight connectivity.

We heard from leading satellite operator that the key challenge is managing complex SLAs across a large coverage area that spans multiple spot beams. Think of hundreds of airlines all needing different bandwidth levels as they soar across spot beams and dish out bandwidth to diverse users onboard running dynamic applications. That’s incredibly difficult. And if not done well, it doesn’t matter how many megabytes a router can handle. Read More

Does Satellite Have a Role in IoT?

denis-mediumBy Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

One of my first experiences with satellite communications was 22 years ago connecting weather sensors to a central sever. Today, such a project would fall under the broad category of Internet of Things. But at the time, it was simply just using the right technology for the project—and that technology was VSAT.

Why did we use VSAT? You see, the weather sensors were located in war-torn Bosnia, where telecoms infrastructure was sparse. The task at hand involved collecting wind speed, rainfall, and other measurement data, which needed to be sent back to the Met Office in the UK for processing with other relevant data. From there, it was delivered back to the Bosnia headquarters in the form of weather forecast products for the RAF mission planners and pilots, allowing flights to be conducted safely.

This was indeed an early example of VSAT being used to collect data from “things” for purposes of making better decisions. And today, while the debate around whether satellite has a role in the Internet of Things continues to heat up, I look back on this as an early proof point that it certainly has a role—and a very valuable one at that.

The Answer to Satellite IoT

Recently I spoke the GVF Connectivity Conference, The question I asked at the recent GVF Connectivity conference was: “Is there a role for VSAT in IoT?”

One of the audience members asked a question about low powered radio networks on land. This limits the amount of opportunity for satellite on land to be aggregation points. However, that is not the whole story. In fact, the opportunity for the telecommunications industry is substantial. Read More

Full Speed Ahead: HTS Spurs Change in Maritime

From Gottlieb’s Satellite Mobility World

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development

Consider the following findings from the fourth edition of the COMSYS Maritime VSAT Report:

  • Between 2012 and 2013, VSAT installations increased by 25% and service revenues grew by 15%
  • By 2018, there will likely be 44,242 vessels with VSAT, which is more than double COMSYS’ last recorded number in 2013
  • VSAT data rates in some segments have increased from 10Mb in 2007 to 100Mb in 2013
  • Commercial freight service VSAT revenues are likely to reach $506 million in 2018, accounting for roughly one-third of the total maritime market
  • VSAT service revenues for oil rigs and oil and gas maritime vessels are projected to reach $498 million by 2018
  • Cruise market service revenues have a projected value of $135 million by 2018

The Challenge: Meeting Increasing Demand

Upshot of all this growth is that as the maritime industry booms, the demand for sufficient bandwidth is rising precipitously. This is true across various segments of the maritime market. Continue>

GVF HTS Round Table Event

Denis SutherlandExcitement levels surrounding High Throughput Satellites (HTS) deployments remain high throughout the globe, as confirmed last week with a very impressive turnout at the GVF HTS 2015 London Roundtable.

The theme of the event was High Throughput SatellitesGame-Changer or New Game? The event explored a range of issues relating to the growth opportunities in the market for satellite-based broadband solutions.

Many conversations focused on a look forward to such future satellite constellations and large-scale satellites as:

  • Inmarsat GX: A seamless global platform for high-speed Ka-band satellite services, covering virtually everywhere on Earth and targeted at both the mobility and fixed markets.
  • IntelsatOne Flex: A high-performance wholesale Mbps managed service on Intelsat EPIC as well as wide-beam Ku-Band capacities. Service providers will be able to control their networks across multiple spot beams through customization of their own service plans and QoS prioritizations.
  • Telenor THOR 7: This will deliver a Ka-band HTS payload of up to nine Gbps of throughput across 25 spot beams over the North, Mediterranean and Baltic Seas.

These exciting programs represent the first global deployments of iDirect Velocity, which is designed to enable the global delivery of high-performance capacity over spot-beam satellites. We’ve addressed new HTS challenges such as spot-beam architecture, high-speed mobility, global coverage, higher throughput performance and carrier-class redundancy. Read More

5 Reasons HTS Networks Need To Be More Resilient

By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

It has always been critical to ensure that satellite communications infrastructure remain online, and operational. High Throughput Satellites (HTS) introduce many reasons for redundancy and resiliency—five reasons, to be exact. Let’s take a look.

HTS 5 reasons final

1)      Gateway Architecture

One of the critical factors that impact satellite operators and service providers is the architecture of a high throughput satellite. Centrally located hub infrastructure accessing a gateway beam, a feeder link, leads to an increased amount of traffic generated from a single teleport, which equates to greater risk of network failure or service impact from uplink degradation. This is particularly relevant in the case of Ka-band, as its frequency has a higher susceptibility to rain fade compared to Ku-band and C-band. Since Ka-band frequencies are particularly prone to rain fade, a network must also leverage adaptive modulation techniques, such as Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) and Adaptive TDMA, to achieve the maximum data throughput and optimized traffic in changing weather conditions.

In many cases satellite operators that are managing the teleport will make provision for service degradation such as for weather so severe that ACM can’t protect the link, or for a failure in the teleport. This will also drive operators to consider smarter gateway diversity, ensuring that failure in one gateway, will be backed up in a different location. This is the case with Telenor’s Thor 7, as explained here, which has two uplinks in Norway to achieve carrier-grade availability.

2)      Scale of Networks

In a previous blog I considered how HTS networks will increase in scale. There will be additional network infrastructure with HTS, due to increased numbers of beams, more terminals, and higher data rates. As the networks grows the need for reliable network infrastructure increases. Read More

HTS Bandwidth Management: Can A Satellite Change Its Spots?

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

Having the right amount of satellite capacity available in the right place is critical to the success of Service Providers and Satellite Operators leveraging High Throughput Satellites (HTS).

As discussed in previous blogs, I expect to see Service Providers deploy a blended portfolio of different business models. That means they will use managed services in some geographical regions, but then also deploy their own infrastructure on other satellites. At the same time we will see satellite operators coming down from space, and offering Mbps service due to the economics of multi-spot beam HTS. Service Providers will leverage these products as well, with terminals roaming from their own network infrastructure onto the satellite operator networks based on the geographical locations the services require.

Managing Bandwidth Across Multiple Spot Beams

Maintaining Service Level Agreements (SLAs) across the entire customer network requires managing the combined bandwidth from the multiple spot beams dedicated to that service as one single bandwidth pool. In traditional wide-beam satellites, a regional network was often covered by a single beam. In a multi spot-beam environment, however, covering a similar region means managing bandwidth across multiple spot beams and networks.

Mobility

HTS planning issues become acute when you have mobile terminals. Imagine you want to cover a large geographic area, for example, North America; some HTS satellites need 50 spot beams to cover such an area. Now consider a service provider that offers an SLA to provide 1 Mbps to each terminal over this region; as terminals move around from beam-to-beam some spot beams could be empty, while others would have many terminals. Read More

Scaling To New Heights With HTS

By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

Denis SutherlandStaying in sync with the exciting innovation in space is one of our primary objectives at iDirect. When developing products and solutions, we consider the current and future environments in which they will operate, along with the challenges our operators may face.

Here’s what we are seeing:

High throughput satellite (HTS) services will be delivered through a technology ecosystem where all the elements are being challenged in terms of scale. Satellites are rapidly growing in terms size and capability, thus the ground infrastructure needs to be scalable. Consider the recent announcements from satellite operators SES, Telenor, Telesat, among the examples. Looking in particular at the Intelsat EpicNG platform, it will provide three- to-five times more capacity than Intelsat Broadbeam satellites. The expected throughput is 25-60 Gbps, typically 10 times more than traditional Ku-band GEO satellites.

It’s useful to analyze HTS characteristics that are increasing in scale in greater detail, and the impact it has on VSAT ground infrastructure requirements.

Larger Transponder Sizes
Not so long ago, 36 or 72Mhz transponders were so common on satellites that industry consultants used this as a standard unit to measure the growth in capacity available in the market. Now we are seeing satellites with transponders from 100MHz all the way up to 500MHz!  Satellite operators see gains in terms of the power being used to enable larger amounts of spectrum. This increases the demand on the inbound line cards to support higher symbol rates, and number of carriers. It also drives the need for capabilities to support awider ranges of frequencies. On the outbound, from hub to terminals, it means much larger symbol rate carriers are requested.

Frequency Re-use (Multi Spot)
As we know, HTS delivers higher aggregate throughput for the same amount of allocated frequency in orbit. This frequency re-use is the process of using the same spectrum across multiple beams within a network – resulting in the ground infrastructure needing to enable many more carriers. For every spot beam, an outbound modulator and multiple inbound carriers are needed. To do this, the hub infrastructure must be scalable, in terms of number of carriers enabled as the satellite fills. This increase is much higher than a traditional satellite: if you have 10 times more capacity roughly 10 times more infrastructure is needed to enable it. Read More

High Throughput On The High Seas: Observations From Nor-Shipping 2015

By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

Denis SutherlandTrade show panels always make for lively market discussions. So when I was asked to join “What’s New in Maritime Satellite Communications: A look at the Coming Advancements in Technology” at the Nor-Shipping event in Oslo this past week, I jumped aboard—no pun intended.

The hot topic of the panel, hosted by Gottlieb International and sponsored by Speedcast, was High Throughput Satellites (HTS). More specifically, how to prepare service providers for delivering high-speed services to the maritime market. You can find my presentation from the panel here.

For those who aren’t quite convinced that maritime is a growing market for high-speed voice and data services, take a look at what the experts have been saying lately:

  • NSR hones in on significant growth projections in its latest Satcom Markets Report, indicating capacity (both HTS and FSS) driving annual revenues past the $5 billion market by 2024.
  • According to the COMSYS Maritime market report, we’re entering a new phase of growth and the defining factors include rising end user adoption and service diversification.

I believe that the advent of HTS has huge implications for the shipping industry. Here’s a taste of what that demand in which COMSYS is describing looks like today:

  • VSAT broadband networks are providing higher bandwidth applications to improve operations, productivity and crew welfare. Applications like route planning, engine diagnostics and weather applications are in high demand.
  • When it comes to cruise, passengers want to stay connected using their personal wireless devices for social media, video and mobile calling services.

And all such opportunities are indeed real. Speaking on the panel, Simon Gatty-Saunt from SES gave a glimpse into some of the exciting HTS plans for the company. This involves three satellites planned for launch in 2017. Read More

Bringing HTS to Market

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect

The advent of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) technology means that the VSAT industry is poised to enter a new era of innovation and possibility. Challenges associated with quality, reliability and cost have been addressed, positioning satellite communication for exponential growth and mass adoption.

At the most fundamental level, HTS represents a major advance in satellite architecture design.

Compared with a traditional broad-beam satellite, HTS can be defined by three primary characteristics, as depicted in the diagram below:

iDirect HTS

The use of multiple spot beams changes where infrastructure must be located and how it will be deployed and managed. With an HTS feeder link design, an operator can no longer place hubs anywhere under a beam. Instead, the entire hub infrastructure must be located within a feeder link managed by a single network operator. Read More

Preparing Oil and Gas for HTS

From OffComm News

It is predicted by NSR that by 2023 10% of connected O&G sites will be for exploration and production, and 12% of those sites will utilize HTS capacity.Denis Sutherland

The past year has brought steady progress on the High Throughput Satellite (HTS) front. For the oil and gas market, writes Denis Sutherland at iDirect, VSAT continues to play a large role in helping to send large data files and support greater use of video for multiple applications.

The industry is moving closer to the reality of HTS, with 2014 bringing the planned launch of several programs focused on the enterprise space. But most of all, the market is addressing critical questions that will set the framework for the next step forward.

Preparing the oil and gas market for HTS in the year ahead involves two evaluations: network design and business model.

Network Design
Frequency will have a direct impact across the ecosystem. The decision between Ka-band satellite and Ku-band satellite seems to garner much debate amongst the satellite community. But the reality is that one is not better than the other. Satellite operators continue to stand by the notion that it is not only a matter of frequency, but it also is dependent on the planned bandwidth allocated to the multi-spot beams, bandwidth efficiency tradeoffs, frequency reuse scheme and the architecture that determine the high throughput.

Business Model
Multi-spot beam architectures of HTS have a direct impact on the ground infrastructure and thus are changing the business models of satellite operators. They can no longer just focus just on space, but also need to consider how to build out cost effective ground infrastructure across a multi-spot beam architecture.

Satellite operators will change their business models to sell Mbps rather than MHz, due mostly to the fact that they will no longer be able to depend on service providers to build their own infrastructure. With this new focus service providers will be able to cost effectively access HTS via a managed service model. Continue >