By Denis Sutherland, Director of Business Development, iDirect
Staying 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
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
SYNTELIX has just launched uSAIL®, a broadband service for the maritime sector.
Based on its own proprietary technological development using a cloud ecosystem on an iDirect® Evolution VSAT platform operated by Hispasat, and with a flexible user-oriented commercial approach, the service is perfectly adapted to the seasonal nature and specific demands of the nautical market. uSAIL offers unlimited, on demand, high-quality connectivity.
Oriented toward the Western European market with Ku-band capacity using the Hispasat 1E satellite, located at the 30 degrees West, the uSAIL® broadband Internet access service connects all types of ships and boats and provides different qualities of service, according to user profiles. These services range from a basic connection for crew to maximum quality connections for IPTV reception—always a la carte and on demand. Also included is an IP telephone service at very affordable rates, combined with specific solutions for crew welfare and maritime streaming, making it a turnkey offer that covers all clients’ needs in this sector.
“The confidence and the effort HISPASAT has put into this project not only make us proud and confident, but also provide a soundness that clients and actors in this sector highly value. There has been a very positive reception,” said SYNTELIX cofounder and CEO, Carlos Derqui.
HISPASAT marketing manager, Ester Fernández, said, “Extending satellite broadband services to the maritime segment of the mobility market is a fundamental goal for the HISPASAT Group”.
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
Claude Rousseau, Research Director, NSR
The growth in the market for in-flight connectivity (IFC) is driven in no small part by passengers boarding aircrafts with their own personal electronics devices (PEDs). Whether they are using them for entertainment, work or to update social media, an increasing number of PEDs require connectivity. All of this is leading to an increased usage of satellite-based communication to and from an aircraft.
NSR’s Aeronautical Satcom Markets, 3rd Edition report found that having access to data and Wi-Fi services in the air is no longer seen as a luxury, but as a necessity for many passengers who use their time onboard to stay connected with those on the ground. This in-turn feeds airlines’ installation on wide-body and narrow-body airplanes of satellite antennas that offer increasingly higher bandwidth to serve a demanding set of passengers.
As a result, the NSR forecast for satellite-based commercial aircraft connectivity is set to grow to $3.9 billion by 2024, of which about $2.1 billion will be for in-flight connectivity, reinforced by a clear trend towards higher bandwidth demand being delivered by high-throughput satellites (HTS). NSR has also noted that many service providers in the IFC market understand this trend and all the major players such as Panasonic, GEE, GoGo and SITA OnAir have HTS capacity deals to meet this rising demand from passengers.
And there is still a lot of ‘leg room’ to grow for satellite-based services aboard aircrafts if we consider that of the more than 100,000 aircrafts that could be outfitted with a satcom solution, only about 47,500 in-service satcom units are deployed but mainly to support low data rate applications. Most of these units are in smaller airplanes and used for voice and basic data communications. 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