Category Archives: HTS

Coming Down from Space, Part 1 of 2

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

Satellite operators need to change their business model.

A lot is written about the benefits and advancements of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and the impact they will have on the satellite market. However, satellite operators will find it more difficult to sell megahertz (MHz) in a hub co-location model, as described here,  and instead will sell megabits per second (Mbps) and in a managed service model due to the increased infrastructure requirements created by multi spot beam satellites.

This change not only affects satellite operators, but also causes dramatic changes throughout the whole value chain. Let’s consider what is driving this change.

A couple of years ago, I talked with a CTO from a satellite service provider (SP) and he said that the company could not build a business case to enable the core iDirect infrastructure on a soon-to-be launched HTS. I realized we had the same problem with a second SP and on the same satellite.

So what was going on?

It turns out both satellite SPs planned to use a new HTS with really focused and powerful beams. However, they needed to use eight spot beams rather than one wide beam in order to cover the same geographic service area.  This meant that they needed to expand their iDirect infrastructure to handle 8X more outbound capability, which would be considerably more expensive. The issue is that the number of remote terminals in the network did not increase; the business case changed from 100 terminals on a single beam to 100 terminals on eight beams. So, the cost of the infrastructure was not viable to get the return on the satellite SPs’ investment.

Fortunately, iDirect solved the problem by working with the satellite operator to build the infrastructure and shared this with different SPs. Thus, the infrastructure costs were able to be shared across multiple business plans. Read More

HTS: A (Business) Model for Success

Greg Quiggle-BlogBy Greg Quiggle, Vice President, Product Management

High Throughput Satellites (HTS) encompass multi spot beams with varying sizes, throughputs and functional capabilities. Compared to traditional widebeam satellites, these new satellite architectures change the way capacity is brought to market.

The architecture of these new satellites will impact how satellite operators and service providers create services for the end customers. Successfully capturing new opportunities being presented by HTS will require a mix of traditional business models and new business models.

This HTS info graphic provides a snapshot of four different business models we are seeing that will be available with HTS. Each business model presents core benefits for both satellite operators and service providers, which have been highlighted in order to provide direction on delivering services.

The key for both satellite operators and service providers will be flexibility to adapt to various models based on changing market opportunities. iDirect’s platform is built to provide exactly that, supporting all business models, helping you minimize risk and move with ease and speed, based on varying market dynamics.

Download iDirect’s HTS Business Models Infographic by clicking on the below image.


iDirect Partner Perspective: Telesat

Nigel-GibsonNigel Gibson, Telesat’s Vice President of International Sales, offers his perspective on high throughput satellites (HTS), the company’s key initiatives and why it’s an exciting time to be involved in the satellite communications industry. 

iDirect: Please give a bit of background on who Telesat is as a company and what makes it unique.

Gibson: What makes Telesat unique, according to our many broadcast, telecom, corporate and government clients, is our ability to deliver superior technical innovations along with industry leading customer service. Telesat creates real competitive advantages for customers by combining our size, resources and satellite expertise with the rapid response and high levels of service that have become critical for success in today’s business world. We are a global satellite operator that is recognized within our industry as one of the Big Four FSS (fixed satellite services) companies. Telesat had its best year ever in 2013 with strong growth in both revenue and EBITDA and we are well positioned for continued success.

iDirect: You’ve mentioned Telesat innovations. Please give some examples.

Gibson: There are several over the last few years that continue to be felt across our industry. When we launched Anik F2, it was the first satellite to successfully commercialize consumer Ka broadband services. This satellite really started the global boom in Ka-band by validating demand for consumer broadband and this, in turn, has led to the wave of HTS we are seeing today. When Telesat’s Telstar 11N launched in 2009 it was the first satellite to provide Ku-band coverage of the Atlantic Ocean from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Telstar 11N, along with Telstar 14R launched two years later, have spurred demand for satellite broadband across the oceans, which is one of the most exciting developments in our industry. Wireless broadband is now becoming as available on planes and ships crossing the oceans as it is at your local coffee house. This is due to many factors including iDirect innovations, but it is also due to the coverage and performance over the Atlantic demonstrated by Telstar 11N. Read More

The Battle of the Bands Continues at the GVF HTS Round Table

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

It never was a battle, really, but sometimes it can be an emotional discussion about which band is most suited to High Throughput Satellite (HTS) deployments. There was certainly a strong response on the “Battle of the Bands” blog piece I wrote, with over 300 votes in our online poll.

I enjoy social media because it gives me an opportunity to interact with partners across the globe and hear their views. Sometimes, people even talk to me. If you prefer that quirky way to communicate, I will be speaking at the GVF HTS Round Table on June 23, 2-2:30 p.m., in Washington D.C.:  “Engineering the HTS Solution.”

You never know what folks will ask when you sit on one of these panels, but some of the feedback I have received on recent blogs gives me some idea.  Also, the results of some of the polls below give me some insights on a couple of topics. It’s always nice to be prepared.

Which band do you think is better suited to HTS?

72% of people think Ka is a better option.

In my view it’s difficult to say one is any better than the other.  As satellite operators who need to make these hard choices repeatedly point out, it’s not only a matter of frequency but also depends on the planned bandwidth allocated to the multi-spot beams, bandwidth efficiency tradeoffs, frequency reuse scheme and the architecture that determine the high throughput. Intelsat and Eutelsat are just two that are placing their bets on high-throughput Ku payloads. Read More

What I learned at Posidonia2014: Roaming in Neptune’s Grass

By Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System EngineeringDenis Sutherland

I took my daughter’s iPad to a round table event at Posidonia2014 in Greece. She is only three, and I thought she would not miss it for a few days as it is important that we stay connected.  Nowhere is that more true than at sea; it must be tough for maritime crew to be away from their friends and family for long periods. I am glad to be part of the changes that are happening within satellite communications. Our technology is not only connecting people, but also driving business productivity.

With that said, I was very excited to be invited by Orange Business Services (OBS) and Gottlieb International to come and speak to 100 experts in Maritime IT at the recent Posidonia2014 event. This is important to me because there is a very healthy but heated debate concerning the future of High-Throughput Satellites (HTS), and maritime shipping is at the center of it.

Some questions need answers: Which band is best? Is global or regional coverage needed? How can satellite connectivity lose the perception that it is costly, to a tool that will save shipping companies money? How can we support business applications?

Nowhere is the future of broadband satellite connectivity more discussed than in the shipping community. Probably because they have gone through a lot of change, from a market dominated by L Band, then to wide-beam C and Ku. And now, there are interesting new HTS satellites coming into orbit. Read More

Hub Side Fade

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

In the last blog, we left off discussing about rain fade and the possibility it could hit on the hub side.

Adaptive will help mitigate rain fade on the hub side of things, but from a hub reliability and redundancy standpoint these are becoming even more critical. The centralized nature of having all of your hub equipment in a single feeder link, typically at a single teleport or multiple teleports in different feeder links, leads to larger network sizes, and the need to have a lot more redundancy and reliability of the link, in general.

Hub Side Fade

Utilizing Ka band as their uplink frequencies from the feeder links, this provides a challenge in being able to handle rain fades on the hub side. iDirect is introducing a feature that actually will allow a complete hub switchover from one hub to another hub located at a different location, seamlessly, that will allow the ability to overcome Ka band rain fade on the feeder links. Read More

Antenna Size: Does it Matter?

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering

In the last blog, we left off discussing how satellite operators can best utilize spectrum. Now we’ll talk about antenna size.

One key question that customers of satellite service providers will ask is if Ka band allows them to use smaller terminals, or higher data rates from a reflector of the same size. This is a very attractive proposition to most satellite users, especially if size or weight is a consideration, usually for many military applications.

The reflector will be smaller because of the nature and physics of satellite communications. For an equivalent performance, Ka Band typically would require a smaller reflector due to smaller wavelengths and can be used by bands of a higher frequency. Many equipment manufacturers have been developing smaller Ka band terminals. Kymeta is one company that is pushing on with flat panel development with some exciting plans.

The next part of the diagram represents the ODU, or mainly the BUC.


I hear some people say a terminal is more than a reflector; the other antenna components are more complex like filters and that Ka filter component is newerand thus not as small as KU, where years of development may have resulted in miniaturization. Read More

Ku vs Ka: Battle of the Bands

Denis SutherlandBy Denis Sutherland, Sr. Manager, Sales System Engineering 

Much has been said about the Ku v Ka band, but as we pivot to High Throughput Satellites (HTS), let’s consider how frequency will impact the ecosystem.

First we had the Ka revolution, where the VSAT industry entered a new era of satellite communications, dedicated to delivering data services. Then there was the battle of the bands where the VSAT community debated if it really was a Ka play, or could the same architecture be delivered with KU.

NSR coined the term “HTS” to encompass this model, whether with KU or Ka, but which band do you think is better suited to HTS?

Do you want to know the answer? … it depends on a few factors, but new entrants without access to Ku spectrum will more than likely look to Ka. Incumbent satellite operators with vested interest in Ku will likely use the spectrum they have. L and C will not be going away, but it’s unlikely they will be used in a HTS model, let’s consider why.

Satellite services are delivered on a range of spectrum as shown in the diagram below. I have tried to give a rough idea of the impact that the frequency band has on a variety of characteristics. So in general usually a L band based service would have lower throughput than a C Band. Ka band on the other hand has potential to offer much higher speeds. This is mainly due to the amount of spectrum available. It is always surprising to me, just how little spectrum is allocated to L Band. It requires much less spectrum than Ka, so if you look at the services provided here they are providing much less aggregate throughout at the IP layer regardless of the technology used. Read More

Intelligent Payloads: The Key to Ensuring Greater Return on HTS

DavidBettingerBy 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

iDirect Poised for Big Moves

Straight from the show floor at Satellite 2014 Greg Quiggle, iDirect’s vice president of product development, sat down with Mark Holmes, editorial director of Via Satellite to discuss the latest trends and biggest happenings with iDirect at the show.

A primary focus on the discussion was around iDirect’s release of iDX 3.2 and the excitement that continues to circulate around High Throughput Satellites. Check out a snap shot of the high points below and then access the full video interview here.

An “Energetic Time” – HTS

  • Quiggle characterized the market as in an “energetic time” with regards to HTS through increase in capacity that drives better beam performance
  • What this means for the satellite industry in general is opening up more market opportunities than ever
  • For iDirect in particular, HTS will create new opportunities in the ground segment and with new satellite operators

iDX 3.2

  • The latest release on the Evolution platform debuted at Satellite 2014
  • He believes partners in all markets will benefit from the Adaptive TDMA on the return channels and reduced roll off featured by this latest release. In particular, verticals focused on high throughput applications, such as offshore drilling and mining, stand to benefit most immediately
  • Mobility networks are an exciting opportunity for this latest release. As the remote continues to move from the edge to the center of beam, the RF characteristics of that remote continue to change, thus the Adaptive TDMA allows for peak efficiency throughout the movement.
  • A major highlight is new high performance X7 remote built to handle the performance iDirect is pushing through the network

Read More