By Nikola Kromer, Senior Director Product Marketing, iDirect
These days, in-flight connectivity (IFC) rules the skies. This idea was clearly evident, and among my key takeaways from attending the Global Connected Aircraft Summit in Chantilly, Virginia, last week. At the event, a ton of great applications and use cases were discussed, all showcasing the rapidly growing relevance of IFC for commercial aero.
Here’s a fact: Every major airline today is either actively deploying or planning to roll out IFC. So what that means is that the differentiating factor is becoming less about the connection and more about what airlines are doing with that connection. And the key question at the conference, of course, was how airlines make money on it. At the conference’s first Airline Roundtable panelists from major airlines were discussing exactly that.
If passengers expect in-flight entertainment to cost little or even come free, the question becomes: How do airlines make a business case around adding connectivity?
It’s important to look at the various applications that in-flight connectivity provides besides entertainment and passenger Wi-Fi. I highlighted some of the main uses for IFC in my previous blog, including crew communication, measurement of key flight data and cockpit applications like Electronic Flight Bags (EFB).
In fact, Andrew Kemmetmueller, Vice President of Operational Applications at GoGo, referenced an excellent white paper that points to the four areas of connected aircraft: In-flight services, flight operations, maintenance and aircraft systems. Let’s examine a few that emerged during the conference as “killer apps”. Read More
By Terry Neumann, Director of Market Strategy
A team from iDirect just finished up a positive week in London at the Small Cells World Summit. This annual event brings together mobile operators and technology vendors to discuss the latest industry trends in this combination conference and tradeshow.
According to Mobile Experts, the total number of small cells deployed has now passed 11 million units and has experienced 32% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for year-over-year shipment growth. Over 77 mobile operators have deployed some form of small cell in their network to help them address specific business challenges.
A number of presentations at the conference addressed various trends and drivers that will enable connectivity in mobile networks moving forward. Ericsson presented on 5G, highlighting increasing throughput speeds up to 1Gb and reducing latency to enable applications for expanding consumer services like personalized video services, as well as for enabling business-focused connectivity to empower markets like the Internet of Things.
Much discussion also took place about virtualization and how it can impact network deployment. This involves bringing intelligence into the network, finding ways to make the most of capacity and being able to move it to where it is needed. Read More
By Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe
A good friend of mine is an artist and has a passion for science fiction. He’s produced some incredible artwork based on franchises such as Star Wars, Terminator, Firefly and Alien. A recent piece features the Aliens Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) that takes pride of place over my desk at work. It was while looking at this piece recently that I started to realise that we’re not that far away from this sci-fi vehicle becoming reality.
In the film, an all-connected squad of colonial marines are kept informed of what’s coming their way with a range of sensors and live communications links. The APC then acts as a mobile HQ, linking the marines to their mothership and chain of command. We’re starting to see this now on the modern battlefield, with APCs not only delivering troops, but then acting as ad-hoc mobile command centres.
Reading through the latest AFCEA journal, gives the reader a good sense of how technology now dominates the battlefield. So much of this technology relies on connectivity; much of it is autonomous, but most of it is bandwidth-hungry with sensors, cameras, tracking devices, etc. Soldiers and Marines on the ground are now more connected than ever with sensors and biometric collection devices commonplace. The devices are becoming ever more sophisticated and more autonomous, with a strong trend towards pushing more data back to central command points.
At the forward edge of battle most of this connectivity still uses short-range technology, such as Wave Relay, but it then needs to be collated and relayed back to a central point, normally over satellite. As the number of users increase and the throughput demands become more intensive, there is a drive towards higher throughput satellites. This central point could be an APC, as in the film, but also could be a static VSAT in a Forward Operating Base (FOB), or an aircraft: either manned, or an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Read More
By Nikola Kromer, Senior Director Product Marketing, iDirect
Earlier this week, NSR’s Claude Rousseau authored a great piece for the iDirect blog that sized up the market for satellite-based connections aboard commercial aircrafts over the next decade. He anticipates that this market will reach $3.9 billion by 2024, with roughly $2.1 billion for in-flight connectivity. And as he points out, there is still ‘leg room’ to grow.
On that note, let’s hone in on growth for higher bandwidth applications in particular. Consider the fact that today about 47,500 in-service satcom units in aero are supporting low data rate applications. As high-throughput satellites (HTS) fulfill the demand for higher bandwidth, we can look to a range of uses for VSAT aboard commercial aircraft going forward.
The Connected Aircraft
Today, nearly every major airline is rolling out or planning to deploy in-flight connectivity. For passengers, this means video streaming, voice connections and Wi-Fi. For the airline, it means a range of operational efficiencies, including:
- Optimizing crew utilization
- Improving on-time performance and charting
- Measurement of key data such as speed and fuel consumption
More and more, the airline industry is embracing VSAT to support all such capabilities. With VSAT, airlines are able to offer higher data rates, with continual coverage for both domestic and international routes. And the advent of HTS is dramatically improving capacity economics, which addresses the traditional challenge of higher operational expenses based on the cost of satellite bandwidth. Read More
By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect
Trade 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
The Small Cells World Summit kicks off next week in London, and with it comes a focus on the solutions that help mobile operators deliver the best quality user experience in the most cost-efficient manner. In the case of satellite technology, when combined with small cells, it can help shift the cost dynamics and deployment methodology for connecting remote and rural areas.
iDirect remains at the center of such discussions. Visit booth 81 where our product experts will introduce you to iDirect SatHaul. This TDMA-based solution provides an efficient satellite transport for small cells using traditional broad beam or High Throughput Satellites, along with advanced optimization capabilities that reduce the amount of bandwidth needed for voice or data.
When you package it all together, what you get is an efficient satellite backhaul solution that helps operators expand voice and data services into rural and remote regions more reliably and cost effectively than ever before. Read More
We are one week away from CommunicAsia 2015, one of the biggest events for communications in Asia Pacific. This is a region that, according to NSR, could become the largest two-way broadband VSAT market worldwide in the next decade.
Be sure to see iDirect at this year’s event. We will be in booth IP3-01, showcasing how our products are helping satellite operators and service providers meet market demands across Asia-Pacific.
Here is a closer look at how some of the biggest trends in the Asia-Pacific region intersect with the technology you can expect to see from iDirect at CommunicAsia 2015.
The Trend: According to NSR, in the next 10 years Asia Pacific will experience a spike in installed base growth due to the impending influx of new High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity. Much of this increase in capacity is driven by new technologies or services that will provide more capacity at lower cost.
The Solution: iDirect’s Evolution® Product Portfolio
Today, more than 350 satellite service providers are leveraging Evolution. The product line consists of a universal hub and network management system, a series of line cards, operating software and a portfolio of remotes to provide investment protection with the flexibility to upgrade to higher capabilities in the future. Read More
By Dave Davis, Sr. Systems Engineer, iDirect Europe
At the recent Counter Terror Expo (CT Expo) in London there was a lot of focus on the physical side of security, like barriers, fences, etc.; this is to be expected. Let’s face it, barriers and fences are the first things most people think of when they are trying to control access to an area.
The area that is being secured could be anything from a small perimeter of tens of metres, such as a forward operating base, all the way up to a national border spanning hundreds, maybe thousands, of kilometres.
There are obvious limitations to fences. They can be easily breached if they span across uninhabited areas. Quite often, by the time you realise they’ve been breached, the trespasser is long gone. The traditional solution to this problem is to have lookout points, or watchtowers, posted at regular intervals. These dramatically increase costs. Another solution is to have regular patrols up and down the fence. Patrols are cheaper, but less effective and over time it can be easy to avoid these patrols as they can become predictable. Any amateur that’s watched any movie that involves getting into or out of an area through some sort of fence knows to wait until the patrol has passed so they have the maximum time to breach the fence and make an escape before the breach is discovered.
One of the technologies on display at the CT Expo was a type of electronic watchtower. By installing remote sensing technology, movement or some other trigger can be used to start the transmission of live video or data to a central control point, and quick reaction forces can be used to intercept any potential intruders. These systems require the use of some form of backhaul technology to link these remote sensors to the central point, and because of the remote nature, satellite technology is the obvious solution. Read More
As data growth continues to expand, mobile operators must look to profitably extend their networks into remote and rural areas. iDirect helped to make the case for the use of satellite at the Small Cells Asia event that took place last week in Singapore.
The venue seemed fitting given the fact Asia is home to more small cells deployments than any other region. The use of small cells, along with the advancement of satellite ground infrastructure and the delivery of more high throughput capacity to the enterprise market with High Throughput Satellite (HTS), are helping to make the business case for satellite for backhaul.
This was a major point emphasized by Gerry Collins, iDirect’s director of business development, during his session ‘The Business Case for Satellite Backhaul 2G, 3G & 4G’ at Mobile Backhaul Asia—which was co-located with Small Cells Asia.
Collins emphasized iDirect’s proven track record in the area of mobile backhaul, and highlighted new opportunities for satellite with small cells. This includes:
- Rural locations, villages, isolated properties
- Remote industrial sites – mines, drilling rigs, and machine-to-machine (M2M)
- Mobility markets, including maritime ships, planes and trains
- Military and first responder drop-in networks
Among the key takeaways associated with 2G, 3G & 4G networks:
- 2G networks will remain the primary technology that connects billions of people in unconnected parts of the world. The availability and low cost of 2G handsets make it a logical choice for expanding into remote and rural locations.
- 3G networks remains a challenge for mobile operators if they don’t have a cost effective means for backhaul.
- 4G network interfaces that are better defined and allow for greater user-based optimization across a range of different products from different mobile infrastructure vendors. This remains vital as throughput requirements continue to elevate on mobile networks.
Many operators believe that small cells for urban will be integral to 4G given the growing data demand. This demand is projected to grow enormously in the coming years. By 2020, more than 55% of the data will be video by 2020 and 90% of all people over the age of six old will have mobile service. In addition, Cisco sees global mobile data traffic increasing nearly tenfold between, growing at a compound annual rate of 57%.
As mobile networks continue growing at a rapid pace, cellular backhaul remains a high-growth market with tremendous upside for satellite.