By Thomas Bopp, Director, Sales System Engineering, VT iDirect
The maritime satellite communication and shipping industries convened this week in Bergen, Norway for the Digital Ship Conference. Prior to the kickoff of this event was the Marlink VIP Customer Update and Dinner, during which many important discussions unfolded related to advancements in maritime communication and the various ways in which shipping companies can leverage these advancements.
Broadband VSAT has become business-critical for the maritime sector. That being said, the limits of reach, availability and throughput are continuously being pushed further. This ultimately begs the fundamental question for the user:
Will the technological innovations prove disruptive or will they transparently integrate and introduce efficiency gains so that the user experience is enhanced?
This was the topic of my presentation at the Marlink event. In some ways, this particular discussion starts with the debate between bands. Here are a few key takeaways to this debate:
- Ku-band is now dominating maritime VSAT service delivery with C-band still holding on to its market spot.
- Ka-band has entered the market with a larger and higher frequency range, and the promise of additional capacity and higher throughput, smaller antennas and the use of more efficient modulation and error codes.
- Challenges facing Ka-band include the higher susceptibility to rain fade and phase noise and the entry cost of any new technology at the beginning of a product cycle.
- The satellite industry has responded with well-proven carrier adaptivity, maximizing spectral efficiency and availability, and hub diversity and advanced quality of service (QoS) to protect service-level agreements (SLAs) during fade conditions. Antenna vendors bring to market cost-effective solutions that integrate satellite routers based on the OpenAMIP standard.
The Ka-band vs. Ku-band discussion feels like a déjà vu of the older Ku-band vs. C-band discussion a few years ago. As the dust begins to settle, it becomes clearer that the choice will be less technical and driven more by such factors as market and value. Ultimately, it is safe to say that the frequency ranges will coexist for the foreseeable future. Read More
We recently sat down with Chris Burdick, VT iDirect’s Vice President, Product Management, Network Management System (NMS), to better understand the importance of the NMS as the critical “glue” that binds all parts of a satellite communications platform together.
VT iDirect: Why is VT iDirect developing a new NMS?
Chris: We’ve seen a lot of changes in the satellite industry in recent years, such as the launch of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) payloads, improvements in technology and the implementation of new service models. Satellite communication services have also evolved, and we needed to reflect that in our management system. So in our new NMS, we’ve focused on facilitating greater scale, improving reliability and security, and making it much easier to integrate with back office systems and terrestrial networks.
VT iDirect: What is the name of the new NMS and why?
Chris: It’s called iDirect Pulse®, and we believe the term “pulse” captures the true essence of what we’re creating. Since the NMS is a system that touches every aspect of a customer’s business, our new NMS denotes the pulse of a vibrant industry, the pulse of a particular network element, and keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your business.
VT iDirect: How long has iDirect Pulse been in development?
Chris: First of all, we had to start from the ground up to account for the new requirements in the industry and aim for the future VT iDirect envisions; this is not an easy task. We looked at every aspect of the design of iVantage– both the things that are very good and the things that can be limiting. Building on the success of iVantage, we wanted to introduce a solid architecture that will last for at least the next decade. Read More
By Thomas Bopp, Systems Engineering Director, EMEA, iDirect
The topic of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) providing additional capacity to areas out of the typical range of coverage remained a hot topic throughout the year. This is true even in some of the largest countries in the world like Russia, which relies on satellite to connect remote locations, many of which can only be reached with this access technology.
The topic was front and center at the Space and Information Technology Conference in Russia this past November. The event was organized by iDirect partner KB ISKRA, a telco provider that recently launched such mobile antenna solutions as its driveway antenna integrating iDirect’s satellite router technology along with OpenAMIP and GLONASS support. GLONASS is the Russian satellite system that provides worldwide geo-location services, which is mandatory for many Russian government and civilian networks.
Coming away from the event, three key trends driving the growth of VSAT in Russia were confirmed to me:
- Russia has a strong fleet of satellites, but organizations are also using a great deal of international capacity, which is often strained due to currency fluctuations
- Strong interest in HTS satellite capacity over Russia during the coming years is evident. The trend is for spot beams, but there is a continued need for global beams due to organizational topologies
- Growing demand exists for broadband-hungry applications across government, defense, oil and gas, cellular backhaul, enterprise, mobility, and the consumer markets
I had the pleasure of participating in this inaugural event, which attracted 80 participants from all areas of the IT world. I took part in both an industry roundtable discussion, as well as hosted a session on maximizing bandwidth efficiency. Read More
By Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering
The dust has settled on yet another GVF HTS round table in London. For me, it was my fifth and final panel of 2014. That includes three GVF panels, one at Posidonia and one at the maritime event SMM. All have included lively debate and countless engagements with vendors, satellite operators, consultants and end customers.
Last week we took a look back at the year in HTS. As I alluded to in that blog, 2015 will be a year in which we continue to see more developments on the HTS front. Based on my participation in various conferences and other industry events, I have come away with five distinct things to watch as we prepare for 2015.
1. The Inflection Point
Analyst projections show that HTS is just getting started as a great deal of capacity is coming online. The numbers paint an encouraging picture for the future.
For example, a report released earlier this year from NSR shows that leased HTS capacity increased by 25.6% in the last year and the wholesale revenue equivalent derived from the global HTS market in 2013 was estimated to be nearly $ 246.3 million, up 14.6% compared to 2012.
But the global market for HTS is still emerging. HTS demand growth rate is expected to rise above 30% annually with broadband access services to be the mainstay of demand. Overall, NSR forecasts that HTS capacity demand will surpass 1,000 Gbps by 2023. Read More
As 2014 comes to close, the satellite industry can reflect back on a year of great opportunity and working transition.
Front-and-center throughout the year was the topic of high throughput satellite (HTS). But HTS remains a long-term endeavor. Looking ahead, much work will focus on how HTS changes the ways in which networks are designed, services are offered and operations are managed.
Aside from HTS, this past year brought forth continued growth within key satellite markets, as well as increased demand for high bandwidth networks across many traditional markets. Markets like cellular backhaul and mobility present ample opportunity for satellite to display its unique set of value propositions.
Mary Cotton, CEO of iDirect, expounds on both topics and more in a featured satellite year-in-review article published by SatMagazine. Click here to read this exclusive piece.
By Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering
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
By Toni Lee Rudnicki, Chief Marketing Officer, iDirect
As mobile operators continue transforming their network architecture to take advantage of 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