Category Archives: HTS

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

Satellite 2014: Latin America-An Emerging Region Emerges

Latin America remains a region of both opportunity and challenge for satellite communication. The coming of HTS is providing excitement around the idea of delivering great capacity at lower costs in order to help meet customer demands, yet government regulations remain a hot topic that all satellite companies need to monitor closely.

A panel discussion at Satellite 2014 addressed such topics, touching on the ways in which such factors will influence this region’s ability to maintain its moniker as “emerging” for years to come.

The Value Chain Change: Could we see a shift in the way the typical value chain is constructed? Russell Ribeiro, Regional Vice President Latin America, Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd., believes this could indeed be the case, citing demand from customers to provide a full solution and new pricing levels for customers. While HTS will deliver huge capacity, he also expects a sharp drop on the price of capacity and believes new platforms will help create opportunities to deliver new services at lower costs.

He anticipates more vertical partnerships being created in the coming years in order to provide a complete solution targeted at specific markets. That could, however, create certain challenges if such partnerships compete with existing customers of the companies involved.

Overall, this potential change in the way value chains are assembled speaks to a an emerging trend in the region: demand for total cost of ownership of the entire communications infrastructure, says Carmen Gonzalez-Sanfeliu, RVP, Latin America and Caribbean Sales, Intelsat. This all revolves around providing better cost efficiencies to the customer. Read More

Satellite 2014: What’s Next in HTS

One of the most widely anticipated sessions at Satellite 2014 was “What’s Next in HTS.” NSR president Christopher Baugh moderated a panel of industry leaders who shared their insights on how HTS will propel satellite communications forward and how best to manage this critical inflection point.

Defining HTS 

The session opened with an attempt to define HTS. The answer isn’t an easy one, though. As several panelists suggested, you can argue when the first High Throughput Satellite launched or whether to define HTS by throughput, architecture, beam size, payload or all of the above. But the panelists all agreed on this: HTS represents an increasingly rapid improvement in capacity, throughput and pricing.

Mike Cook, senior vice president with Hughes, outlined the exponential leap in throughput on a Hughes satellite, surging from 10 Gbps in 2008 to more than 150 Gbps today. iDirect CTO Dave Bettinger shared NSR’s projection that HTS capacity will soon exceed 2.6 Tbps.

John Zlogar, vice president of commercial networks at ViaSat, highlighted the massive increase in HTS launches and the significant improvement in the cost of capacity per bit. And Ashok Rao, O3B Networks vice president of product development, shared his company’s bullish growth plans, which included an elliptical orbit fleet, higher throughput rates and new target markets.

Maximizing HTS Opportunity 

Certainly, the numbers are strong, Baugh suggested, before setting up the day’s key question: How can the industry best monetize all this new capacity? Are all the business cases in place, or could this be another version of the satellite industry placing a risky 20-year bet on an uncertain future? Read More

Power to Scale to HTS Networks

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

In my last blog, I discussed how ground infrastructure providers like iDirect have a tricky job keeping their technology at the pace of change of developments in space.  Much has been said about the exciting changes in the VSAT industry, not least with the many High Throughput Satellites (HTS) launched or planned.

The reality is that there is no common way to build an HTS satellite. O3B is exceptionally different from the other constellations, but we have also seen many other differences in terms of numbers of beams, size of transponders, polarization, onboard process and many other factors. I talked about some of the different business models here.

One thing they have in common is that HTS brings many more beams to cover a similar geographical area. For example, a typical Ku satellite beam could cover Europe, but with an HTS Ka satellite, you may require 30 or more beams.  This multi-beam frequency reuse is obviously one of the key advantages of an HTS architecture, but I will not talk about that here. Intelsat do a very good job on the “teach in video” you can view:

Let’s consider how this change impacts the ground vendors or service providers using a TDMA platform like iDirect.  With a non-HTS Ku satellite, from a design perspective, we would assume for Europe wide coverage that a single DVB-S2 outbound would sufficiently cover the continent,  up to a limited amount of total IP traffic, and we can run some sophisticated modeling to work out numbers of terminals contention ratios, SLA, rain fade with resultant ACM impact. Easy! Read More

What to Look for at SATELLITE 2014: The Debate about HTS Business Models

From Via Satellite

High Throughput Satellites (HTS) is undoubtedly one of the industry’s hottest topics, no longer confined to a few geographies. As HTS “globalizes,” new questions arise such as how platforms will tend to evolve worldwide; what challenges and opportunities are expected from the emergence of empowering service architectures; and the business models and technologies behind them. With the entire satellite industry gradually transitioning to HTS, these are important debate topics. They affect all stakeholders in the satellite broadband, backhaul and trunking ecosystems including manufacturers, satellite operators, telcos/MNOs, service providers, broadcasters, technology vendors and — most importantly — end users.

Central to the HTS debate is the topic of the business models and, in particular, the pros and cons of the so-called “closed” and “open” network architectures. This is subject to further exploration, debate and clarification during Satellite 2014.

“Closed” HTS Models

The number one goal through this architecture is achieving the lowest possible operational cost per bit on the satellites. This usually pushes HTS architectures toward some degree of vertical integration; such as when the roles of the satellite operator, network infrastructure and IP service are integrated and managed by a single player. Prime examples of this model are HughesNet and ViaSat exede in the U.S. and Eutelsat tooway (KASAT) in Europe. Continue>