Author Archives: Denis Sutherland

Insights for Improving the ROI of VSAT Networks

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Vice President, Business Development, VT iDirect

First, let me congratulate Integrasys for winning the 2017 VSAT Stellar Award for Best Ground Segment Technology.

During the VSAT Global show, I had the pleasure of representing iDirect and joining the World Teleport Association (WTA) and Integrasys on a panel to discuss important considerations on how to cost-effectively deploy and maintain VSAT networks. When thinking about improving the return on investment (ROI) for VSAT networks, the cost of equipment and space segment is just the tip of the iceberg. Operators should consider the more hidden costs of optimizing the installation and commissioning process, which can represent a significant portion of network costs.

These costs can include:

  • Hiring a professional VSAT installer
  • Traveling to a remote location
  • Using a satellite phone for back-channel communications
  • Coordinating with hub support staff
  • Redeploying personnel for any post-install issues

The iDirect Remote Commissioning Solution is based on Satmotion Pocket by Integrasys and it empowers the field technician to autonomously and accurately install a VSAT terminal, thereby saving time and resources. Accuracy is important to maximize the performance and efficiency of the network by minimizing adjacent satellite interference. To learn more, listen to the webinar recording or you can also purchase and download the full report from the WTA website. Read More

Engaging with Others to Make Satellite 5G a Reality

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Vice President of Business Development, VT iDirect

Today, I’m chairing the Satellite Terminal Working Group’s (STWG) special meeting Satellite Communications and their Role in 5G and presenting on the topic of “Bringing 5G to VSAT Terminals.”

The STWG is part of the Innovative UK Knowledge Transfer Network, which seeks to link together business and universities to share ideas and the latest discoveries. We’re holding the meeting at the University of Surrey, located just a bit southwest of London, in their 5G Innovation Centre, a top-rate research centre dedicated to the development of the next generation of mobile and wireless communications.

5G is a perfect topic for the STWG to explore, as it has major implications for satellite communications and cross-industry collaboration will be essential if VSAT is to take advantage of future opportunities in cellular backhaul, connected vehicles, and the Internet of Things. Satellite terminals have to adapt to service new applications, so this will likely require unique form factors, much smaller sizes, and dual cellular/VSAT capabilities.

We want VSAT to be accessible as an extension of 5G networks, to achieve “plug-and-play” functionality and bring coverage to places where traditional terrestrial struggles. This will require adding greater programmability to VSAT networks, incorporating industry standard 5G interfaces to both terminals and hub-side components, and harmonizing the management plane to seamlessly transfer services between VSAT and 5G access points. Read More

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